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CHIPS Articles: NAVWAR Enterprise Launches Third Artificial Intelligence Prize Challenge in Series; Increases Award to $750K

NAVWAR Enterprise Launches Third Artificial Intelligence Prize Challenge in Series; Increases Award to $750K
By Kara McDermott, NAVWAR Public Affairs - December 18, 2020
Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) enterprise announced the launch of its third prize challenge in the Artificial Intelligence Applications to Autonomous Cybersecurity (AI ATAC) Challenge series, with the submission timeframe opening Dec. 10.

The prize challenge, managed by Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (PEO C4I) and Space Systems’ Cybersecurity Program Office (PMW 130), seeks to enhance the Security Operations Center (SOC) using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools to automate the detection and prevention of advanced persistent threats and other cybersecurity campaign activity.

Current SOC procedures require a tremendous amount of time and effort to triage alerts, link related logs, perform incident response, and document investigations. Through this AI ATAC Prize Challenge, PMW 130 is soliciting security orchestration and automated response (SOAR) tools that use AI and/or ML to enhance SOC effectiveness for competitive evaluation.

NAVWAR and PEO C4I and Space Systems have sponsored this prize challenge series to gather insight and participation from nontraditional defense vendors, teams, and individuals. The winning entry will win $750,000.

“We love prize challenges,” said NAVWAR Commander Rear Adm. Doug Small. “They’re a great tool to tap into some incredible diversity of talent, inject a little friendly competition, and learn a lot about solutions, and even problem-framing, we may have never imagined.”

The challenge is open to all U.S. citizens and those with permanent residence status. The open period for submissions is through Feb. 12, 2021, with an email indication of intent to participate sent to AIATAC.PRIZE.CHALLENGE@NAVY.MIL by Jan. 8, 2021. To be considered for the prize, entrants need to provide the following in accordance with the challenge rules:

  • Submission description whitepaper
  • Overview and demonstration videos
  • Corresponding SOAR technology
  • Setup guide

Similar to the last two challenges in this series, PMW 130 has partnered with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a Department of Energy laboratory in Tennessee, which will provide their Cybersecurity Operations Research Range facility and their expertise for evaluating the technical solutions.

“This is a critical challenge to improving our SOC operations,” said John T. Armantrout, PMW 130 program manager. “The key parts of SOAR are the orchestration and automation pieces - coordinated responses to solve problems, with minimal or no human oversight for each incident. If the tool can detect more quickly using AI or ML, or is smart enough to categorize an issue as benign or malicious without supervision, then the analyst’s abilities are enhanced and the systems are safer.”

This challenge will measure the performance of these tools based on specific SOAR capability criteria to determine how well they would provide improvements to U.S. Navy SOCs across the world. To learn more about this AI ATAC Challenge, including rules, criteria and eligibility requirements, visit

All questions regarding the challenge should be directed to AIATAC.PRIZE.CHALLENGE@NAVY.MIL.


NAVWAR identifies, develops, delivers and sustains information warfighting capabilities and services that enable naval, joint, coalition and other national missions operating in warfighting domains from seabed to space and through cyberspace. NAVWAR consists of more than 11,000 civilian, active duty and reserve professionals located around the world.

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