Space Force plans late FY24 award for ‘Digital Bloodhound’ to sniff out cyber attacks

By Theresa Hitchens,
Published by Breaking Defense, 5 April 2023

Digital Bloodhound will develop tools such as the Manticore software suite that identifies cyber vulnerabilities, and the Kraken software that throws up real-time defenses against ongoing attacks.

WASHINGTON — The Space Force’s primary acquisition command today is wrapping up industry meetings with for its Digital Bloodhound program to improve detection of cyber threats, with a contract award expected late this year.

Digital Bloodhound, which is focused on cyber attacks against ground facilities such as satellite command and control stations, falls under the Space Force’s Defense Cyber Operations–Space (DCO-S) program. The service is seeking $76 million in its fiscal 2024 budget request for the program, up from $28 million in FY23. In addition, the Space Force has asked for an additional $43 million in its FY24 “unfunded priorities” list to top up the DCO-S effort.

Noting that “cyber defenses are critical” to protecting US space capabilities, Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman told House defense appropriators on March 28 that the service has asked for $700 million in fiscal 2024 to guard “networks associated with space operations.”

That same day, the White House National Cyber Director and the National Space Council convened a high-level forum on cybersecurity for space systems, with participants across the US government including Saltzman’s second in command, Gen. DT Thompson.

Space Development Agency Director Derek Tournear told the audience at the Sea Air Space conference that “common mode failures [such as cyber attacks] can take out all your satellites from the ground systems, then you can’t proliferate your way out of that—so that’s a major concern. We have a lot of protections in place, and that’s something that we put a lot of resources on to make sure that we’re hardened against cyber threats.”

In a Monday email to Breaking Defense, a spokesperson for SSC said that the command’s Space Domain and Combat Power Program Executive Office (SSC/SZ), led by Brig. Gen. Tim Sejba, was holding industry days Tuesday and today in Colorado Springs to discuss plans with interested vendors. The office expects to release a formal request for proposals (RFP) in the third quarter of the year (July 1 to September 30), and an award is “expected in 4QFY23,” the spokesperson added.

“Overall, the Digital Bloodhound contract will be the basis for developing and deploying the USSF DCO-S tool suite for the foreseeable future, including the capacity to surge and meet future demands. Additionally, the contract will consist of ground system protection and space vehicle data link protection capability development,” the SSC spokesperson explained.

These tools include the Manticore a suite of software tools that identify cyber vulnerabilities, and the Kraken software that throws up real-time cyber defenses against ongoing attacks.

SSC first asked industry for information about capabilities relevant to Digital Bloodhound in July 2022. At the time, SSC/SZ was planning an RFP for January 2023, to be followed by a single contract award in June under the One Acquisition for Single Integrated Services (OASIS) Small Business Pool 5B contracting vehicle for space & missile systems acquisition and engineering services run by the US General Services Administration.

The spokesperson provided no reason for the delay.

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