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Developing cyber defense capabilities for military aircraft

An airborne Apache helicopter flies through a cloudy sky. Computer code is seen in the clouds in the background.
BAE Systems is developing cyber defense capabilities to help aircraft detect and mitigate cyber attacks in real time.

BAE Systems, a leader in advanced threat management solutions, is developing cyber defense capabilities to help aircraft detect and mitigate cyberattacks in real time. The new capabilities — including system analysis, reverse engineering, and intrusion detection — will build upon the company’s state-of-the-art threat management solutions and help protect warfighters and aircraft from a variety of cyber threats.

While future platforms are designed with cybersecurity in mind, the current fleet of military aircraft was not always, and may be vulnerable to cyberattacks. These fixed- and rotary-wing platforms were developed to be in service for decades and need periodic upgrades. They are complex systems packed with processors, computers, networks, and data links, creating an interconnected digital environment that may expose warfighters to cyber threats.

“We understand how the threats to military aircraft are evolving, and we’re focused on developing technology that protects warfighters from current and emerging cyber threats,” said Cheryl Paradis, director of Threat Management Solutions at BAE Systems. “This work will help provide them with the tools they need to successfully complete their missions.”

The company’s new threat management capabilities include automated vulnerability assessment, subsystem hardening, and malicious system behavior identification. The versatile cyber defense technology can be implemented on existing threat warning systems or as a stand-alone solution. This approach builds on the company’s commitment to providing more mission capabilities to warfighters without burdening their aircraft with excessive size, weight, and power demands.

These cyber defense capabilities expand the company’s threat management portfolio, including the recently announced 3-Dimensional Advanced Warning System (3DAWS) product suite, which is designed to protect aircraft from first-encounter kinetic threats with layered countermeasures.

Based on more than 40 years of experience, BAE Systems’ threat management solutions have saved hundreds of lives in the field. The modular suite offers reliable and versatile survivability technology for airborne, ground, and maritime platforms that automatically senses, processes, and responds to a wide variety of threats, enabling warfighters to execute their missions in hostile environments and return home safely.

Ref. No.  /2017