Four companies have been awarded contracts to develop initial prototypes for components to make up the Department of Defense’s comprehensive cyber training range.
They include ManTech, Simspace, Metova and Circadence.
The Persistent Cyber Training Environment, which the Army is managing on behalf of U.S. Cyber Command, will effectively be the module where cyberwarriors can conduct ongoing individual and collective training on par with rifle ranges for infantry troops and combat training centers for brigades.
Currently, no system exists for cyberwarriors to conduct ongoing training; typically, they test readiness in large-scale annual exercises.
Army budget documents outline how much the service is looking to spend on one of its top priorities: the Persistent Cyber Training Environment.
The PCTE is one of the major cyber acquisitions of this fiscal year. The Army is issuing awards for prototypes under five separate innovation challenges to help shape the larger program of record, Brett Barraclough, executive director of cyber and information solutions of the mission solutions and services group at ManTech, told Fifth Domain in an interview.
Using a rapid acquisition vehicle know as other transaction authority, the Army can get an interim solution to cyberwarriors faster, while also better informing the requirements document for the ultimate program, he added.
One of the most important components needed in the coming years by the cyber operations community within the Pentagon is its own cyber firing range.
Under this first stage of prototypes, ManTech will be providing planning networks, scheduling tools and deploying environments, Barraclough said.
Other industry partners under the award will provide capabilities including scenario design and actual execution of the training.
Given the immense need for a cyber training platform, the military is looking to rapid acquisition vehicles to field capability faster.
Right now, the government is acting as the integrator of all the disparate capabilities being provided by members of industry, Barraclough said.
Barraclough added the development of the PCTE will be an ongoing, agile process of building and feedback with the first training in the system occurring in August and feedback coming in September. Each month, partners will work with stakeholders to gain more and more feedback to improve the prototype.
Barraclough said the goal is to do larger-scale exercises in the January 2019 timeframe; in the meantime, the prototypes will shadow some of the larger exercises.
The timeline for the first request for proposals for the larger program is slated for fiscal 2019, by which time all five innovation challenges should have been completed and analyzed, Barraclough said.