Army Leaders: Space Tech Crucial to Future Combat
(Source: US Army; issued June 10, 2019)
LONG BEACH, Calif. -- The Army plans to bring newer, more powerful satellites into its tactical network within 10 years, an Army official told industry partners Friday.
The service looks to leverage innovative programs, such as the Medium Earth Orbit and Low Earth Orbit satellite constellations, as the need for bandwidth and top application performance continues to grow. Some commercial companies already use MEO satellites and some LEO satellites have been launched into orbit.
Maj. Gen. David Bassett, Program Executive Officer for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, or PEO C3T, said the service expects initial experimentation by 2023 and could possibly field the technology around 2025-2027.
Creating a more resilient, secure network could be crucial to ensure the success of the Army's ambitious modernization goals, which include plans to spend $8.4 billion over the next five years to modernize its network.
"I think that we recognize that many of the operational concepts that are under consideration require the availability of what could be significant amounts of data and interconnectivity to enable those kinds of behaviors," Bassett said during the Association of the U.S. Army's Space and Network Symposium. "This notion of a shared, collaborative battlespace implies a certain degree of connectivity."
MEO satellites and Geostationary High Throughput Satellites supply high bandwidth connections, while LEO mega constellations provide broadband internet services. If the MEO and LEO satellites are successful, the Army will field communications terminals at commercial prices -- a lower cost solution.
"If I could have a solution in the future that could deliver multiple megabits of capability at the same price for terminal and bandwidth … make it as simple for our Soldiers to use, that's transformation," Bassett said. "That would change the way we fight with that much bandwidth across my formation. I think that's game-changing, but that's not here yet."
Bassett said the Army will follow the lead of the Air Force, which has been developing an Internet protocol service with greater standoff distance compared to current terminals used in warfighting.
Called Military Satellite Communications Systems, the $42 billion project creates a communications network of satellites, control stations and terminals for the Air Force's aircraft worldwide.
MILSATCOM allows the Air Force to provide reliable, secure satellite communications capabilities to warfighters. First, it plans to distribute the service over existing Wideband Global SATCOM by fiscal year 2023. Then it will add anti-jamming Protected Tactical Satellites, with the first prototype expected to be fielded by fiscal 2024.
Bassett said the Army will utilize both military and commercial technology to meet the communications needs of its formations.
The technology could provide an alternative to a service whose communications relies heavily on global-positioning satellites. Bassett said the service must move away from ubiquitous communication technology and find methods to deliver communications when the GPS system fails.
"When we talk about an Achilles' heel of our formations, it's this reliance on space -- reliance on GPS to provide position navigation, especially timing for our communication systems for our (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) systems," he said.
The Army's development of its Integrated Visual Augmentation System connects shared data to a limited amount of individuals using simulated 3-D images to help train Soldiers. Limited access can bode well when protecting communications from third parties as well as provide an independent network that continues to function when the grid crashes.
"It's that much more powerful," Bassett said. "But we want the base capability to continue to be useful in the absence of the connection. We need to design systems that are network-enabled, but not network-dependent, that in the absence of that robust network, they can continue to provide military capability."
Army Leaders Say Service Must Shore up its Space Defense
(Source: US Army; issued June 08, 2019)
LONG BEACH, Calif. --- Growing threats from U.S. adversaries in space could make the Army vulnerable in future conflicts, leaders said Friday.
"Our adversaries know that our military technologies depend on our assets in space," said Maj. Gen. John George, deputy director, Army Futures and Concepts Center. He spoke at an Association of the U.S. Army symposium in Southern California on space and the network.
As he saluted the heroism shown on D-Day, George also contrasted the physical scale of that operation with what we may be challenged with in the future operational environment. "Even on a tactical level, our Soldiers rely on capabilities from space and the (Army) network. China doesn't need 7,000 ships. Its ability to launch satellites which could disrupt our equipment or even destroy our satellites gives them the capability to move from the competition phase to conflict almost unnoticed."
A 2017 Russian cyberattack on an American construction company in Oregon showcased how easily a U.S. communications system could be attacked, George said. He added the U.S. has also suspected Russia of sending ships off course and disrupting military exercises.
"Space isn't the final frontier anymore," he said. "We're there. Russia is there. China is there. It's not just space; it's contested space."
"To defeat our adversaries' efforts to create standoff, the Army must continuously and rapidly integrate space and cyberspace capabilities into the fight," he said.
Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, commander of the U.S. Army Missile and Space Defense Command, cited two concerns as the Army tries to position itself for future space dominance in multi-domain operations: the first, emphasizing the importance of assured access to space capabilities and applications. And the second, how that access relates to the service's continually-evolving warfighting concept for growing adversarial threats.
Maj. Gen. David Bassett, Program Executive Officer for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, known as PEO C3T, said that the Army's growing dependence on GPS navigation for its communications and ISR systems could leave formations vulnerable should the GPS system fail. He said the service should consider developing alternative options to the satellite-based system.
"Our current dependence on GPS is so high, that a loss of confidence in that capability could be catastrophic," George added.
To help prepare for the growing threats in space, the Army recently stood up the first I2CEWS Battalion or Intelligence, Information, Cyber, Electronic Warfare and Space unit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
In addition to providing for defenses against offensive and defensive cyberattacks, the battalion conducts intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance by using special multi-domain sensors. I2CEWS also leverages joint and national assets that identify, detect and locate enemy communications and weapons systems.
The end result: I2CEWS' space capabilities provide greater maneuverability for U.S. forces and its allies while preventing adversaries from hacking into U.S. networks, Dickinson said. He added the Defense Department is "working to rapidly meet" President Trump's intention of establishing a space force should it receive Congressional approval.
"(The space force) will fundamentally transform our approach to space from a combat support function to a warfighting domain of competition and potential conflict," Dickinson said. "It will institutionally elevate space relative to its role in national security."
Should a space force become established as the sixth military branch, the Army will retain its space capabilities that directly support its ground combat forces, he said.
In March, the Pentagon established the Space Development Agency to develop next-generation space architecture that will enable U.S. military operations to build a technological advantage and accelerate space capabilities.
The establishment of the multi-domain operations concept has helped offset potential adversaries' ability to achieve standoff by covert means in space and cyberspace, Dickinson added.