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U.S. Space Superiority Threatened
The club of spacefaring nations is growing, the cost of entry is dropping and participation in space-based activities is becoming easier. These factors threaten U.S. space supremacy and the vital on-orbit U.S. assets that are counted on to support military operations worldwide, according to a U.S. Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) report. Titled “Challenges to U.S. Space Superiority,” the NASIC report notes that both the ability to exploit space against U.S. interests and to deny U.S. use of space-based assets soon will be within reach of even nonstate adversaries. Imagery satellites are likely to increase in number and in quality, which will make allied forces susceptible to surveillance by many potential foes. Several countries are improving signals intelligence capabilities that could detect allied force operations. The advent of small satellite capabilities has opened up space to inexpensive imaging, communications, navigation and even antisatellite weapon systems for countries previously excluded from the space club. Terrorists soon may be able to jam space-based communications and navigational systems as well as to attack vital groundstations. And, with the proliferation of previously limited technologies in orbit, many potential enemies—including nonstate adversaries—will be able to develop indigenously or to acquire from third parties the capabilities to deceive, disrupt, deny, degrade or destroy U.S. space systems or services.
Army Restructures FCS Program
The U.S. Army has altered the business aspects of its Future Combat Systems (FCS) program to tie the effort more closely with Army transformational planning and to provide additional oversight. The FCS program will be formally linked with the Army Modular Force Initiative through a future combat force strategy aimed at spiraling FCS technologies into the current modular force. The program’s current Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) with the lead system integrator Boeing/SAIC (www.boeing.com; www.saic.com) will become a Federal Acquisition Regulation-based contract. The Army secretary and the chief of staff will conduct an in-depth review of the program at least three times each year. The Army Audit Agency, the Army Science Board and an outside panel of advisers also will conduct periodic independent cost, schedule and technical viability assessments of the FCS program.
DARPA Strives for Automated Battlefield Medicine
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has committed $12 million to develop an automated battlefield trauma system. The two-year effort will employ robotic technology to perform a surgical procedure in an unmanned facility that can be transported by a ground or air vehicle. This unmanned trauma pod would be deployed on a battlefield to treat wounded soldiers in need of immediate medical attention. It would be operated by a human surgeon from a remote location connected by wireless links, and automated robotic systems would assist the surgeon and maintain life support for the patient. SRI International (www.sri.com) heads the trauma pod team, which includes other corporations, government laboratories and academia. The program is funded through the U.S. Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, or TATRC (SIGNAL Magazine, March 2005, page 55).
Navy Tabs Data Fusion System
A prototype sensor tracking and fusion system won a U.S. Navy competition to develop technologies for the upcoming DD(X) class of warships. Competing firms were invited to participate in an integrated tactical picture prototype trade study to evaluate technologies to fuse multi-source tactical and operational data generated by onboard and off board sensors. The competing systems were required to track aircraft, ships, submarines and land targets through a series of combat scenarios. The winner was selected based on quantitative measurements of data fusion performance across a range of tests incorporating data from five different sensor types. Lockheed Martin (www.lockheedmartin.com) developed the tracking and fusion system.
Missile Parries New Threats
The U.S. Navy’s Standard Missile-2 has successfully intercepted a variety of subsonic and supersonic threats in a littoral environment. Launched from the destroyer USS Momsen, the tests operated in conjunction with the new Aegis Weapon System Baseline 7 Phase 1 to simulate a variety of engagement scenarios such as the nearly simultaneous launch of two Standard Missiles (SM-2s) against two targets. The tests focused on the Block III, IIIA and IIIB variants of the SM-2s. Manufactured by the Raytheon Company (www.raytheon.com), the SM-2 is designed to provide warships with an area defense against aircraft and anti-ship missiles. The Navy also recently awarded Raytheon a $265.9 million contract for the production of 75 Block IIIB missiles and 79 alteration kits to upgrade older SM-2 missiles.
Satellite Communications Fly Higher
A commercial call-group push-to-talk voice and data satellite communications network that can support first responders will be deployed in the fourth quarter of this year. The worldwide service is being designed for both the public and private sectors and will allow single users to talk or transmit data to many users simultaneously. Iridium Satellite LLC (www.iridium.com) will provide the service, which will work alongside existing Iridium services such as short-burst data for real-time alerts. The system will feature end-to-end encryption for secure communications and allow the integration of terrestrial trucked radio systems. The Iridium constellation comprises 66 low-earth-orbit satellites that provide global pole-to-pole coverage.
Cutter Construction Underway
Production of the U.S. Coast Guard’s new National Security Cutter began in March with a keel-laying ceremony in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The 418-foot long ship will be the largest and most technically advanced class of cutter in the Coast Guard and will include helicopters, inflatable boats and secure communications. The first cutter will be complete in the spring of 2007. A second contract signed in January calls for eight additional ships. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (www.ss.northropgrumman.com) is producing the cutter, and Lockheed Martin Corporation (www.lockheedmartin.com) is developing the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities for the ship. The multimission cutter is part of the Coast Guard’s Integrated Deepwater System modernization and recapitalization program (SIGNAL Magazine, December 2002, page 39).
Radio Links Civil and Military Users
A new multiband radio will allow U.S. military aircraft and ground units to communicate with law enforcement agencies and first responders. The AN/ARC-210 is a multi-mode radio operating in the 400- to 512-megahertz range that is interoperable with public service/land mobile service systems. Manufactured by Rockwell Collins Incorporated (www.rockwellcollins.com), the AN/ARC-210 performs transmit and receive operations using channel spacing in the 25- to 12.5-kilohertz range; transit modulation in compliance with Federal Communications Commission bandwidth requirements; and private line encoding and decoding of continuous tone coded squelch system sub-audible tones.
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