The US Air Force (USAF) has placed a low-rate initial production order with global communications company ViaSat for 1,000 Mini Crypto devices.

Certified by the National Security Agency, the Mini Crypto devices will be used by the USAF to enable forward-deployed troops to secure the small, tactical-edge systems in extremely adverse environments.

The Viasat devices have been designed to facilitate easy embedding on small form factor systems such as unmanned systems, emerging robotics applications, communications devices, and existing and emerging sensors used by the US Department of Defense.

This will help the USAF securely transmit ‘Secret and Below Information’ across the battlespace.

Once delivered, the Mini Crypto systems will ensure that tactical communications and data exchanges are carried out safely and securely, irrespective of the environment.

Viasat government systems president Ken Peterman said: “Cyber threats have created a new operational environment and have increased risk across the multi-domain battlespace.

“The Mini Crypto also brings exceptional ease-of-use to troops with innovations in low size, weight, and power, enabling longer operational periods and smaller payloads.”

“Our Mini Crypto will provide substantial operational cost savings to our customers through certificate-based tactical key management and non-controlled cryptographic item handling.

“The Mini Crypto also brings exceptional ease-of-use to the warfighter with innovations in low size, weight, and power, enabling longer operational periods and smaller payloads. Our patented software is upgradable even after deployment, enabling ongoing improvements without removing the system from the field.”

The small size and embedded operational use case of the device allows it to ensure high levels of security with minimal additional weight and power.

Mini Crypto is based on Viasat’s programmable and embeddable PSIAM cryptographic technology, which offers accredited cryptography for applications such as unmanned systems, handheld communications, weaponised platforms and high-speed Cloud computing.

First deliveries of the devices are expected to be carried out during the third quarter of the company’s fiscal year.

In December, the USAF and Viasat completed the production readiness review on the Mini Crypto programme.