Air Force crafts $1B cybersecurity contract for small businesses

The Air Force's ACT 3 is coming. It's the third iteration of a cybersecurity technology contract vehicle, this time, limited solely to small businesses.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Trang Le)

The Air Force has decided to dedicate the third iteration of its “agile cyber technology (ACT)” contract vehicle completely to small businesses.

The Air Force Research Lab posted a pre-solicitation notice for the ACT 3 contract that could be worth nearly $1 billion for cybersecurity research and development.

“A review of the previous market research under ACT and ACT 2 in addition to the ongoing market research throughout the current contract has provided adequate justification for ACT 3 to be a total [small business set-aside],” the notice states.

In the $950 million contract, AFRL is looking fora wide-range of technologies to deliver cyber superiority, including cyber threat avoidance, full-spectrum cyber operations, network exploitation, and situational and mission awareness technologies. The deliverables can take the form of hardware, software, technical documentation and technical reports, according to the notice.


An initial draft request for proposals is expected to be posted in early August.

The Air Force has issued previous ACT contracts, which also reached nearly $1 billion in total value. Previous ACT vehicles were available for use by other agencies outside of the Department of Defense, including the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security. The Air Force has been outspoken about its push to advance cybersecurity technology both for its own force and to be able to better utilize the broader cyber workforce.

Other areas in which the Air Force is seeking technology to help it achieve mission success are cyber command and control, wargaming and cyber infrastructure. The Air Force anticipates roughly five years of work for the contract awardees. The ACT 2 contract was awarded to five small businesses.

“In order to receive from Industry the most novel and innovate approaches to solving user needs, it is anticipated that 4 to 6 Prime contractors are necessary under ACT 3,” the notice says. “Large Businesses are still encouraged to partner with SB.”

The notice includes thin details beyond the broad outline of the type of cyber defenses AFRL is seeking through the contract. It notes that contractors would need top-security clearances,

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