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Space


Overview

Communications is vital to the modern military establishment. Satellites permit direct communications with units on the battlefield. Light-weight mobile terminals can be erected in a matter of hours, keeping advancing troops in constant contact with higher authorities. Today the soldier in the field can use satellite links to establish direct and instantaneous communication with the National Command Authorities. The United States maintains several geostationary communications satellite networks, which were extensively used during the Operation Desert Storm.

The Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS), is used by all four military services and a number government agencies.(1) The nominal constellation includes five operational and two spare satellites.(2) Three DSCS II satellites, launched in the late 1970 and the 1980s, remain in service, along with four of the more capable and survivable DSCS III spacecraft launched in the 1980s. Beginning in 1991, DSCS III satellites would be launched singly on upgraded Atlas II boosters, with ten launches planned through 1997.(3)

The Navy uses a wide range of military communications satellites. The Gapfiller transponders on three Marisat satellites, in service since 1976, were finally taken our of service in 1990. The Fleet Satellite Communications (FLTSATCOM) constellation consists of three backup satellites, launched in 1978, 1979 and 1980, and FLTSATCOM 4, FLTSATCOM 6, and FLTSATCOM 7 launched in 1980, 1986 and 1989 respectively, in front line service. The Navy's other major system is the Leased Satellite (LEASAT) system, which consists of four Syncom IV spacecraft leased from Hughes, which is also the satellites manufacturer. The final launch of the LEASAT program was completed on 9 January by the Space Shuttle.(4) The Navy's new satellite project, the Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) Follow-On (UFO) program, would launch 10 satellites beginning in 1992.(5)

The two satellites of the Satellite Data System (SDS) support near-real time communications between low altitude photographic intelligence satellites and ground control stations, using highly elliptical semi-synchronous Molniya-type orbits, optimized for coverage of the North polar region. SDS F-5 and F-5A, launched in 1983 and 1984 respectively, probably remain in service. NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS), supports near-real time data transmission from the Lacrosse low altitude imaging intelligence satellites.(6)

The Milstar satellite system, which has been under development since the early 1980s to provide survivable and jam resistant Extremely High Frequency (EHF) communications to strategic and tactical users,(7) has experienced major cost and technical problems.(8) The program experienced a major reorientation in 1990, away from support of strategic nuclear warfighting with the Soviet Union,(9) toward support of conventional forces in the Third World.(10) The constellation would be limited to no more than 6 satellites, rather than the 10 originally planned,(11) and the system focused on support of tactical users.(12) First Milstar launch aboard a Titan 4 from the Eastern Test Range was anticipated in late 1992,(13) although subsequent flights would be delayed.(14)

The DoD Space Architect was established in the 27 September 1995 USD (A&T) memorandum to consolidate the responsibilities for space missions and system architecture development into a single organization.  The memorandum also directed that the immediate effort of the DoD Space Architect shall be to develop a future Military Satellite Communications architecture which encompasses core DoD capabilities; allied, civil, and commercial augmentation; and global broadcast capabilities.

 Several key factors contributed to the need for developing an objective MILSATCOM architecture.

  • The current fielded MILSATCOM systems would require replenishment in the first decade of the next century
  • The explosive growth in satellite communication technologies and services in the commercial sector merit exploitation of these capabilities for the warfighter
  • Warfighter needs and requirements for the coming decades are changing and growing

The DOD Space Architect's MILSATCOM Architecture Development Team (ADT) developed four architecture alternatives.  From the analysis of performance, utility, cost, and risk on the four alternatives, findings were made concerning terminals, frequency spectrum, the space segment, the commercial satellite communications industry, and military requirements and operations.  Several themes emerged concerning an objective MILSATCOM architecture.

FINDINGS: First, there is enormous potential for improved capability and lower unit cost over current systems.  Significant technology and many revolutionary commercial satellite communications systems would be demonstrated over the next five to ten years, including switched, crosslinked, and processed systems; large constellations of varied earth orbits; dynamic communications control; and low cost, low maintenance terminals.  Though new frequency spectrum allocations are unlikely, there is potential for commercial synergy in the Ka band.

 Second, future vision and doctrine would require more satellite communications service than a simple evolution of present systems would provide.  The force structures of 2003-2010 presume availability of the types of information and communications support in operation today, and depend critically on high performance MILSATCOM services such as protected, survivable, and netted mobile.  Additionally, bandwidth-intensive emerging capabilities, such as mobile-netted services and global broadcast, are not currently reflected in weapons system concept of operations.

 Third, changes to the ground segment of the architecture are as critical as changes to the space segment.  Over 100 types of terminals are fielded today, and they have not previously been treated as a variable in architecture or transition development.  Current operations and support costs for terminals are significant, yet not highly visible.

From stakeholder feedback on the four architecture alternatives, objectives of high performance with improved capacity, flexibility, and assured support emerged.  This led to the formation of a set of MILSATCOM Objectives for 2010-2025:

  • Provide the right communications to the right user at the right time by being information services driven
  • Be fully integrated with the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN)
  • Reduce the satellite communications 'footprint' of terminals, radios, antennas, RF signature, people, etc.
  • Be user friendly and interoperable

A transition approach to the objective was recommended to mitigate risk and reduce the cost in research and development.  The Transition Goals for 2003-2015 would help achieve the objective architecture in an affordable manner.  The Transition Goals are:

  • Ensure continuity of service through satellite replenishment, operations management, or risk trade-offs
  • Within limits of low or medium acquisition risk and acceptable funding, take significant steps towards the MILSATCOM Objectives, with no barriers to evolution
  • Enable evolution to new warfighting visions by facilitating demonstrations and operational use
  • Accelerate on going changes in terminal developments toward flexibility and systems efficiency
  • Fully integrate MILSATCOM into the overall communications architecture
  • Take advantage of international cooperative opportunities

The JSMB approved the objective architecture goals and strategy, in concept, with the understanding that long-term resource decisions would be predicated upon a cost constrained requirements analysis.  A Senior Warfighters Forum (SWarF)(flag level users from the CINCs, services, communications and acquisition communities) was started to balance capabilities versus future needs, available funding, and risk for the transition period.  The SWarF's recommendations were centered around funding for Wideband, Protected, and Narrowband SATCOM:

     Wideband

    • 3 or more Gapfiller satellites - 2004 launch
    • X-band/GBS (Ka)/2-Way Ka
    • Offload "fixed" users
    • Watch commercial market

     Protected

    • 4 Advanced EHF satellites
    • Polar - 24 hour coverage

    Narrowband

    • Understand UFO risks
    • Mitigate with hedges
    • Assess commercial systems
    • Look at objective system for 2007 and beyond
    • The SWarF's recommendations were approved by the JROC on 2 Oct 97.

All ships must have a minimum of 128 kilobits per second to be able to meet the fundamental requirements to support messaging and to maintain a common tactical picture. This core capability is needed to support traditional mission areas, as well as the new mission of theater missile defense for our crusiers and guided missile destroyers. IT 21 provides the core capability.

  • BUILD ONE: If high resolution imagery and collaborative planning are required as part of the ships mission, then additional bandwidth is required. This additional bandwidth typically would go to carriers, command ships and amphibious assault ships.
  • BUILD TWO: This would support the missions of precision engagement, joint task force commander, joint forces air component commander, and operational maneuver from the sea.
  • BUILD THREE: In order to support the area air defense coordinator mission on cruisers, they need the additional bandwidth required for collaborative planning.

Joint Vision 2010 utilized dispersed, well informed, connected forces to achieve massed effects. These forces would require more throughput and significantly improved information management. Today, the Navy achieves high throughput using large antennas. These antennas can't fit on all the Navy's smaller ships. Large antennas impact radar cross section, another factor for ships. Dispersed forces of the future would need to have the same throughput utilizing much smaller antennas.

1. Finney, A.T., "Tactical Uses of the DSCS III Communications System," in NATO AGARD (Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development), Tactical Applications of Space Systems, Avionics Panel Symposium 16-19 October 1989, (AGARD-CP-460, NTIS N90-27438).

2. "Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Years 1990 and 1991," Senate Armed Services Committee, 101st Congress 1st Session, part 6, page 141.

3. "General Dynamics Wins MLV II Competition," Aerospace Daily, 4 May 1988, p. 185.

4. "Shuttle-Deployed Syncom IV-5 Arrives on Station, Begins Testing," Aerospace Daily, 19 January 1990, page 110.

5. "Navy Satellites Approach Critical Replacement Stage," Aviation Week & Space Technology, 21 March 1988, pp 46, 51.

6. Charles, Dan, "Spy Satellites: Entering a New Era," Science, 24 March 1989, pages 1541-1543.

7. Smith, Jeffrey, "$40 Billion Satellite Project Symbolizes Hill Split Over Defense Needs," The Washington Post, 2 August 1990, page A9.

8. US Senate Armed Services Committee, Report on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1991, 101st Congress, 2nd Session, Report 101-384, 20 July 1990, pages 109-114 and 358-364 provide an authoritative review of these issues.

9. Kiernan, Vincent, "Officials: Changing World Heightens Demand for Milstar," Space News, 8 October 1990, page 8.

10. Kiernan, Vincent, "US Congress Slashes Milstar Funding, Orders Shift of System to Tactical Users," Space News, 22 October 1990, page 3, 37.

11. Langberg, Mike, "Lockheed Fights for Milstar as Cold War Thaw Threatens," San Jose Mercury news, 14 January 1991, page 1C, 6C.

12. US House of Representatives, Conference Report Making Appropriations for the Department of Defense, 101st Congress, 2nd Session, Report 101-938, 24 October 1990, page 97.

13. Kiernan, Vincent, "Electrical Tests Bring Air Force Close to MILSTAR Deployment," Space News, 28 May 1990, page 10.

14. Foley, Theresa, "Slow Funding To Delay Second, Third Milstars," Space News, 17 December 1990, page 4, 21.

15. Department of the Army, Supporting Data Amended FY 1992 / FY 1993 Biennial Budget Estimate, Descriptive Summaries of the Research, Development, Test & Evaluation Army Appropriation, January 1992, page 47.

16. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), The Five Year Defense Program; Book 1 FYDP Program Structure, DoD 7045.7-H, August 1984, page 3-21.

17. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), The Five Year Defense Program; Book 1 FYDP Program Structure, DoD 7045.7-H, August 1984, page 3-26.

18. Department of the Navy, Amended FY 1992 / FY 1993 Biennial Budget Estimates, RDT&E Descriptive Summaries, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy, January 1992, page 111.

19. Department of the Navy, Amended FY 1992 / FY 1993 Biennial Budget Estimates, RDT&E Descriptive Summaries, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy, January 1992, page 145.

20. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), The Five Year Defense Program; Book 1 FYDP Program Structure, DoD 7045.7-H, August 1984, page 3-18.

21. Department of the Navy, Amended FY 1992 / FY 1993 Biennial Budget Estimates, RDT&E Descriptive Summaries, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy, January 1992, page 159.

22. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), The Five Year Defense Program; Book 1 FYDP Program Structure, DoD 7045.7-H, August 1984, page 3-28.

23. Department of the Navy, Amended FY 1992 / FY 1993 Biennial Budget Estimates, RDT&E Descriptive Summaries, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy, January 1992, page 723.

24. Department of the Air Force, Supporting Data for Fiscal Year 1994, Budget Estimate Submission: Descriptive Summaries, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, April 1993, page 103.

25. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), The Five Year Defense Program; Book 1 FYDP Program Structure, DoD 7045.7-H, August 1984, page 3-17.

26. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), The Five Year Defense Program; Book 1 FYDP Program Structure, DoD 7045.7-H, August 1984, page 3-21.

27. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), The Five Year Defense Program; Book 1 FYDP Program Structure, DoD 7045.7-H, August 1984, page 3-27.

28. Department of the Air Force, Supporting Data for Fiscal Year 1994, Budget Estimate Submission: Descriptive Summaries, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, April 1993, page 118.

29. Department of the Air Force, Supporting Data for Fiscal Year 1994, Budget Estimate Submission: Descriptive Summaries, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, April 1993, page 118.

30. Department of the Air Force, Supporting Data for Fiscal Year 1994, Budget Estimate Submission: Descriptive Summaries, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, April 1993, page 122.

31. Department of the Air Force, Supporting Data for Fiscal Year 1994, Budget Estimate Submission: Descriptive Summaries, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, April 1993, page 125.

32. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), The Five Year Defense Program; Book 1 FYDP Program Structure, DoD 7045.7-H, August 1984, page 3-26.

33. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), The Five Year Defense Program; Book 1 FYDP Program Structure, DoD 7045.7-H, August 1984, page 3-39.

34. Department of the Air Force, Supporting Data for Fiscal Year 1994, Budget Estimate Submission: Descriptive Summaries, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, April 1993, page 303.

35. Department of the Air Force, Supporting Data for Fiscal Year 1994, Budget Estimate Submission: Descriptive Summaries, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, April 1993, page 357.

36. Department of the Air Force, Supporting Data for Fiscal Year 1994, Budget Estimate Submission: Descriptive Summaries, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, April 1993, page 405.

37. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), The Five Year Defense Program; Book 1 FYDP Program Structure, DoD 7045.7-H, August 1984, page 6F-28.

38. Department of the Air Force, Supporting Data for Fiscal Year 1994, Budget Estimate Submission: Descriptive Summaries, Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, April 1993, page 469.

39. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), The Five Year Defense Program; Book 1 FYDP Program Structure, DoD 7045.7-H, August 1984, pages 3-19 & 3-20.

40. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), The Five Year Defense Program; Book 1 FYDP Program Structure, DoD 7045.7-H, August 1984, page 3-26.

41. Charles, Dan, "Spy Satellites: Entering a New Era," Science, 24 March 1989, pages 1541-1543.




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