The UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) defence science and technology laboratory (Dstl) has awarded a contract to Airbus to develop and mature a virtual cyber centre of operations (VCCO).

Awarded as part of Dstl’s cyber situational awareness research project, the £1.4m cyber protection study contract will see Airbus Group Innovations UK develop a 3D virtual world to enable collaboration and shared situational awareness.

The VCCO project aims to demonstrate how virtual collaboration is likely to give commanders a better understanding of how they are targeted by cyber enemies on the battlefield.

Dstl cyber situational awareness capability adviser Ben Parish said: "Cyber technologies are constantly evolving and it’s crucial for the UK’s armed forces to keep abreast of these developments.

"The research into the VCCO concept contributes to MoD’s understanding of how to be resilient to cyber-attacks and be better able to protect our interests in cyberspace."

"Cyber technologies are constantly evolving and it’s crucial for the UK’s Armed Forces to keep abreast of these developments."

Airbus Group Innovations Newport cyber operations research team leader Dr Kevin Jones said: "This contract award follows four years of work with Dstl and the collaboration and cooperation of multiple stakeholders."

Working in collaboration with two small and medium-sized enterprises, MooD International and Xuvasi, Airbus will study how UK forces can stay ahead of the curve in an era when rising threat and sophistication of cyber-attacks are posing an increasing threat to military capability.

MooD International and Xuvasi will provide visual analytics and event correlation data respectively.

The VCCO concept is expected to enable military decision-makers to call on experts anywhere around the world to help deal with cyber situations in real-time.

In particular, the research will help in the design and development of a new generation of security operations centres that will provide forces with the ability to counter cyber threats when they are deployed.

Work under the contract is scheduled to run until March 2016, and will lead towards a deployed technology demonstrator.