Air Force Upgrades Missile Systems SSD

The majority of tech users today may not even be familiar with floppy disks, much less think that a government entity would still be using them. The Air Force had been running their Strategic Automated Command and Control System (SACCS) on 8-inch floppy disks for the past 40 years.

The floppy disks, used with the Force’s IBM Series 1 computers, were developed in the 1970s. The Government Accountability Office report pointed out the obsolescence of the system in 2016. At the time, the Air Force responded that having an outdated computer is a cybersecurity advantage as it would keep hackers from being able to penetrate the device.

The computers are not even connected to the internet and were used strictly with the floppy disks that contain information for intercontinental ballistic missile command, control, and communications network. Lt. Col. Jason Rossi, commander of the Air Force’s 595th Strategic Communications Squadron, said that the system has finally switched to a highly secure and solid-state digital storage solution.

Staying Grounded in a World of Advancements

While the Air Force has switched their systems over to SSDs, the IBM computers are still being used. Air Force officials have stated that other network upgrades that increase speed and capacity have been implemented.

The GAO report in 2016 mentioned that the group had plans to update its data storage solutions, port expansion processors, portable and desktop terminals by the end of 2017. There has been no evidence that these plans for port expansion and terminal updates have been completed, or even at what stage the process is.

While the older machines may offer a layer of protection, especially because of their inability to connect to the internet, it is near impossible to find replacement parts. This means that the components must be repaired manually. Civilian Air Force employees with electronic experience perform the majority of repairs and the code for missile launches is written by enlisted Air Force programmers.

Benefits of Military-Grade Security

SSDs offer an advantage over traditional hard disk drives as they do not have moving parts that can break down. The Air Force took a step towards advancement by choosing this type of storage device, but may still be in the process of updating. While difficult, it is possible to introduce SSDs into age-old computers.

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