DOD's Android effort begins to bear fruit

The Defense Department is working on a hardened version of the Android operating system that is expected to lead to broad use and even a military apps marketplace. How did such a seemingly consumer-oriented system for powering handheld devices find favor with the government's toughest customer?

It all started with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Work on the hardened Android kernel is a part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Transformative Apps program, which seeks to develop new DOD software applications through an innovative development and acquisition process, Mari Maeda, the program’s director, said at the IDGA Network Enabled Operations conference in Alexandria, Va., Jan. 25.

The program plans to create a military apps marketplace to encourage collaboration between the development community and users.

For the Android kernel, DARPA built a secure host system consisting of a customized version of the Android 2.2 operating system, Maeda said. Besides hardening the Android stack, the DARPA team also added data and data-at-rest authentication, and the ability for the software to check data integrity.

The work is beginning to pay off. The hardended version of the Android OS was evaluated at the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) during two events in the spring and fall of last year, held at Fort Bliss, Texas, and the nearby White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. Other military services and branches of the federal government are also considering deploying Android devices. And DARPA launched a pilot program in May 2011 to test mobile devices running on the Android OS in Afghanistan with the 3rd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division, Maeda said.

As a part of the pilot, DARPA developed a dozen applications for use by the 3rd Brigade’s troops. The entire brigade was equipped with mobile devices by mid-fall of 2011, Maeda said. The new applications allow soldiers to load imagery and data onto their handheld devices. She added that six Army brigade combat teams are requesting the capability.

Read the full report on DOD's use of Android at our sister site, GCN.com.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.