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WASHINGTON — Nearly 18 months after the Space Force awarded General Dynamics Information Technology an $18 million Other Transaction Authority (OTA) to develop Project Enigma, the company has built prototypes and successfully connected to an Impact Level (IL) 6 secure cloud environment, staying on par to potentially win a production contract in January 2025. 

Enigma is a program designed to create a single-cloud digital environment where industry, academia and the Defense Department can work together on a shared network with “anyone, anywhere, anytime” at varying security levels with the hope to “speed up the capabilities in our space world,” Travis Dawson, GDIT’s senior director of Enigma, told Breaking Defense. 

“The convenience of having both classifications on a single device and being remote, [that’s a] game changer, absolute game changer,” Dawson said.

Users can sit at home or in a hotel room when connecting to a classified network using Enigma, but they must still comply with all the routine safeguards. 

“The individual still has responsibilities. So, you can’t take [your device] to Starbucks, right? If you’re at home, you still have to be in your office, windows closed, no cell phones, etc. Same thing with your hotel room if you’re on travel. So, there’s still a lot of security requirements behind it,” Dawson explained. 

GDIT was awarded the OTA  by the Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC) in January 2023. It’s the only company developing prototypes for Enigma, Dawson said.

The need for Enigma derives from the fact that the Space Force currently lacks an efficient mission network that allows for collaboration between the government and industry partners at a classified level, according to a NSTXL release. Additionally, the Space Force’s legacy systems do not meet the operational, acquisition and training/test mission requirements. 

Related: Connect ‘anyone, anywhere, anytime’: SSC slated to test Enigma infrastructure in June

Successful Connection To Impact Level 6

During the SSC Cyber Expo at Los Angeles Air Force Base at the beginning of May, GDIT established secure connectivity, showcasing its digital engineering capabilities — including a software platform with DevSecOps pipelines and a remote IT service management desk — all while in a DoD IL6 Joint Warfighting Cloud Computing (JWCC) approved environment. 

Dawson said GDIT was also able to demonstrate its capability in using Enigma’s Commercial Solutions for Classified offering, which is how users can access classified networks either in the office or remotely. 

The showcase was GDIT’s second in-person demonstration where Enigma connected to an IL6 environment, following one in October 2023 after which the DoD gave GDIT the green light to continue development on a larger scale.

Then in March, the DoD signed off on the approval process for the lengthy authority to process (ATO) procedures process, granting GDIT interim authority to test status.

“We are progressing towards a full ATO which is expected by August of this year,” Dawson said. 

Originally given until July by the SSC to test Enigma’s functionality, GDIT now has until December 2024 to test its capabilities, when it plans to participate in a final demonstration where all the previous showcases will come together to create “a seamless user experience.” During which, a Space Force servicemember will sit down and demonstrate how to use the program, Dawson said. This last step will be the ultimate test of Enigma’s functionality. 

Dawson said GDIT is now working on granting Enigma access to industry partners and more commercial cloud providers, not just those affiliated with SSC, to create a multi-cloud environment. Enigma is currently a single cloud environment. 

While he couldn’t name which cloud service providers GDIT is working with, Dawson told Breaking Defense that only companies that can operate in an IL6 environment will be implemented into the Enigma project. Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft and Oracle are the current companies that can operate in an IL6 environment and are competing for task orders under the JWCC program.