Trio vying for encryption work

The National Security Agency recently selected three vendor teams to compete to develop Gigabit Ethernet encryptors (GigEE) supporting the secure exchange of top-secret information at speeds of at least 1 gigabit/sec over commercial Internet Protocol wide-area networks.

ViaSat Inc., L-3 Communications and General Dynamics C4 Systems recently were awarded 30-month, $10 million development contracts, and are all competing for future production awards, said Bruce Rowe, ViaSat's director of marketing and communications.

One gigabit/sec is the equivalent of about 48,000 typewritten pages per second, according to General Dynamics C4 Systems, a division of General Dynamics Corp.

All three companies are developing their tools in compliance with the NSA's High Assurance IP Interoperability Specification (HAIPIS), which will ensure interoperability with all future generations of IP encryptors developed for government agencies.

"This development is under the auspices of NSA for development of the technology and prototypes, which will then be available to any government military [service] or agency to use," Rowe said.

ViaSat's Type-1 IP In-line Network Encryptor (INE) will advance current static hardware products with a re-programmable architecture that enables the device to accept new features and upgrades in the future, said Jerry Goodwin, network systems director for ViaSat.

ViaSat's government systems division is the prime contractor, and its other team members include:

* BBN Technologies, which is providing advanced networking capabilities as well as advanced key management expertise.

* NAI Labs at Network Associates Inc., which is providing network management expertise.

General Dymanics' first GigEE prototype will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2004, and will carry forward the designs developed for General Dynamics' IP and ATM Taclane and Fastlane ATM Encryptors, said Dick Perreault, General Dynamics vice president and general manager for trusted network solutions.

Perreault said the GigEE program represents the evolution of high-assurance Type 1 encryption "to address the increasing speeds at which current and future networks transmit information."

L-3's solution was based upon the Camden, N.J.-based company's current product line of 100-megabits/sec high-assurance in-line encryptor products, said Gregory Roberts, president of L-3 Communication Systems — East.

The GigEE program provides for an expansion of two L-3 product lines: the Secure Terminal Equipment and OMNI families of secure communications products.

"With our own internal R&D funding in the GigEE program, L-3 plans to expand the capabilities of our product offerings in both features...[and] satisfy the increasing demand for classified bandwidth for the warfighter and their support infrastructure," Roberts said.

The NSA awarded all three contracts Aug. 26.

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