In a presentation that brought together the U.S. Navy, Department of Defense (DoD), U.S. Air Force Intelligence, OneWeb, and Iridium, the methodologies of watching and engaging enemies with a new technological structure was a key focus. Commercial space plays a significant role in not only operating that structure, but also in its further development by the armed forces.
That structure, the Joint All-Domain Command and Control — or JADC2 — was created to enable commanders to make better decisions by collecting data from numerous sensors, processing the data using artificial intelligence algorithms to identify targets, then recommending the optimal weapon. It is further defined as the warfighting capability to sense, make sense, and act at all levels and phases of war across all domains and with partners to deliver information advantages at the sp-eed of relevance.
Mike Dean, DoD satcom chief, kicked off the discussion, “The Role of Commercial Space in Army, Navy, Air Force JADC2 Programs,” at SATELLITE 2022 with a high-level overview of JADC2. “It's all about understanding whether you're in competition or conflict,” Dean said. “You have some adversaries out there that are getting better in terms of their command and control. We have to be able to speed up ours to match that.”
He explained that JADC2 has multiple lines of effort to it. One is data enterprise, which is all about moving, storing, and processing data and then forwarding the information across the JADC2 environment. “It's about the network,” Dean said. “You've got this digitizing environment where you have information flowing through wired and terrestrial, and space, and maritime on the ground, everywhere. How do you do that?” His office focuses on command, control, and communications, he said.
The DoD has an enterprise management control records architecture that was released a couple of years ago, he said, and they are working on implementing that. “How we do that transport is near and dear to our hearts,” Dean said. “Because the warfighter needs a global secure communications network. We can't have any single points of failure. You have to have multi-path and you have to have multi-level security.”
Brig. Gen. Steven Gorski, director of Intelligence at Langley Air Force Base, said that the Air Force has made some changes and continues to make changes to adapt to a new national defense strategy and to the JADC2 concept. Part of that is a shift to a more data-centric approach platform. “Commercial space continues to provide a whole wealth of information for JADC2, and specifically, for the warfighter,” Gorski said. “From a sensing standpoint, we get redundant and expanded coverage and multiple modalities for sensing whether that's electro-optical, multispectral, or radar. That allows us to do battlespace awareness, mission planning, and also speeds up our targeted efforts.”
He also commented on the data transport operations mentioned by Dean. “That data transport layer that [Dean] discussed is critical. As part of the Air Force, we're looking at agile combat deployment. Moving around is a key component [in deployment]. We're going to have to be agile, and we're going to have to use mission type orders so that our forward elements are able to still understand the environment they're in and prosecute their portion of the war.”
Gorski thinks that one of the key tenets of JADC2 today is going to be interoperability and the ability to work with joint partners, multinational partners, the intelligence community, and beyond in sharing that data. “I think industry is going to continue to be a great partner in that because generally it can move and adapt to market conditions faster than the government,” he said.
Jay Chapman, director of Government Solutions for Iridium Communications, talked about how current world geopolitical issues are providing insight into and opportunities with JADC2. “There's a lot of opportunity here, across commercial space, as we look to augment military space and military capability across what we're seeing on our televisions right now,” Chapman said. “It's really allowing us to apply that JADC2 model to see what we're learning in real time. We have a confluence of modern warfare happening while we have humanitarian assistance, disaster response, even search and rescue. It's a very interesting and a sad but opportunistic time for us all to look at the right blend of capabilities to support this.”
Dylan Browne, president of OneWeb Government, said that OneWeb continues to look at many opportunities, putting together puzzle pieces and then starting with a blank page to see what the customer will want and pay for. “We've actually opened up coverage a little bit earlier than planned in Eastern Europe for humanitarian efforts,” he said. “We've got a bunch of field trials starting.”
Chapman said that, when looking at some of the processes they’re using, there's opportunities for improvement — doing that analysis and trying to speed up that chain of moving and using data, and leveraging AI, for example. “We have a great opportunity with commercial space moving their orbits closer and having a low latency and high throughput satellites in order to do a lot of things in space that we weren't able to do before,” he said. “I would suggest we crank up the action.”
Browne said that, as he looks at the development of JADC2 more, there is another dimension to think about, time. “I think when we look at our satellite industry, it moves forward in decades cycles. That's too slow. We've got to keep the pace up.” VS