A rare launch window is giving the U.S. Defense Department a chance to plan its next generation of space-based communications systems around both innovation and interoperability. This launch window does not involve a single mission. Rather, it encompasses the entire family of military communications satellites now on the drawing board.
The U.S. Defense Department's new generation of military communications satellites will be both forward-looking and backward compatible. They will introduce state-of-the-art capabilities with flexibility for upgrades, and they will be able to interoperate seamlessly with existing Milstar satellites.
The ability of the United States to detect and track moving targets and strike with precision using stealthy platforms now is well-known. This operational advantage incorporates numerous cutting-edge technologies and has revolutionized the way the nation prosecutes the fight, shifting the national security paradigm and fueling our drive for the next steps in transformation. U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper, USAF, recently stated, "The day is coming when prompt global strike will be a reality, when the kill chain will be reliably and consistently compressed to minutes instead of hours or days." The nation will provide even quicker and more lethal response when called to action, enabled by technology and our ability to execute an essential Air Force core competency: technology to warfighting.
A U.S. Navy and Air Force program is aiming to place an experimental surveillance platform in the high ground of space at bargain basement prices. If all goes according to plan, a 20-inch-high satellite will be orbited early this year for a series of experiments that could change the way battlefield forces receive surveillance, reconnaissance and situational awareness data.