The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Plan X program is working to help military cyber operators visualize the cyber battlespace and perform missions there based on an established cyber framework and a common operating picture. Plan X is a foundational cyberwarfare program whose engineers are developing platforms the Defense Department will use to plan for, conduct and assess cyberwarfare in a manner similar to that of kinetic warfare. | DARPA photo

A mix of extensive research and development and innovative hands-on testing and acquisition processes are set to deliver technology to the Army later this year that streamlines mission command for cyberspace operations.

The system, called Plan-X, helps move the cyber domain further away from the exclusive realm of network operators. Plan-X gives commanders a way to see and respond to key cyber terrain in the same way they react to actions on the physical battlefield, and enables synchronizing cyber effects with key related warfighting functions such as intelligence, signal, information operations and electronic warfare.

The system has been under development at DOD’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under a four-year, $120 million program. Later this year DARPA will hand it over to the Army’s Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS) — a major step closer to putting it into action on the battlefield.

The transition of Plan-X signifies that the system is showing promise for cyberspace operations, said Lt. Col. John Bushman, deputy chief of fires for U.S. Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER).

The “highly collaborative” system leverages standardized icons to provide a Common Operating Picture of the information environment that gives commanders, planners, analysts and cyber operators the ability to communicate in real time to address cyber requirements.

Army Cyber Command