Draft legislation proposed by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) seeks to improve the Pentagon's ability to quickly develop and acquire process cyber warfare technologies.
The Electronic Warfare Enhancement Act (S. 2486), co-sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), would streamline the defense procurement process for cyber warfare technologies by including electronic warfare technologies within the Secretary of Defense's Rapid Acquisition Authority (RAA). The draft also proposes to create an exception to a requirement (Section 181, Title 10) that the defense secretary review acquisition programs.
The proposal comes as the U.S. struggles to play catch-up to Russia's growing cyber capabilities. The U.S. military, for example, lags behind the electronic attack, jamming communications, radar and command-and-control nets used by Russia in the Ukraine and Syria to jam drones and block battlefield communications. According to National Defense, the US Army is working on stronger jamming systems, expected to be available in 2023.
Last week, SCMagazineUK.com learned that Russia's Ministry of Defense is planning to spend $200 to $250 million per year to further improve its cyber-offensive capabilities.
The proposed legislation would provide the U.S. military with more options in response to situations such as dealings with Russia, wrote Robert Stasio, a Truman National Security Fellow and previously CEO of Ronin Analytics, LLC, in an email to SACMagazine.com. The bill could also expand non-lethal options, he noted.
Kirk, a first-term senator, is a military veteran who served as a Navy Reserve intelligence officer. On Friday, he visited a Northrop Grumman facility in Illinois – where he is currently running for re-election – to plug the proposed legislation. Northrop Grumman says it is the largest defense contractor in Illinois, employing over 2,200 workers at its locations in Rolling Meadows, Ill.
“It is critical that the United States military dominates the offensive and defensive ends of electronic warfare,” Kirk said, in a statement. “This bill will give DoD and industry leaders the tools to quickly develop critical electronic warfare technology for the warfighter.”