28 Apr 16. DoD looks toward future satellites and threats. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is in the process of developing multiple futuristic satellites, each at varying degrees of maturity, as the military’s experimental arm is charged with solving a multitude of space-communications issues. Between decreasing budgets, an evolving commercial and government satellite landscape, changing Defense Department missions that put troops in austere environments, and an increasingly crowded and volatile space domain, DARPA is looking to solve a number of problems. The first program targeting these issues — especially services to deployed troops — is SeeMe, a constellation of microsatellites set to begin launch in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to Jeremy Palmer, DARPA’s tactical technology office program manager. SeeMe will provide on-demand, beyond-line-of-site tactical information, including imagery, from space to service members deployed to remote locations. But that’s just the start, Palmer noted April 27 at the C4ISR & Networks Assured Communications breakfast in Arlington, Virginia.
“That is intended to deliver [services], with very little latency, to a handheld device in the field,” Palmer said. “And this trend is continuing…in addition to SeeMe, one thing we’ll be working on in the future is the latest trend in what new space is creating in terms of capability. We have these venture-backed new space startups that are fielding constellations of microsatellites. And they’re delivering anything from Internet to the globe to overhead imagery to communications services. We’re interested in determining how we can leverage these constellations to deliver more affordable and more effective services to the dismounted warfighter.”
Palmer said his goal is to deliver these capabilities directly to the Nett Warrior handset currently deployed by developing space innovation. He highlighted two projects, one near-term and just kicking off. Commercial Satellite Payloads is demonstrating secure voice-over-IP communications to troops on the ground, going to a vehicle-mounted terminal, he said.
The other, longer-term project is the Large In-situ Manufactured Apertures, or LIMA, which aims to shrink hosted payloads to the size of a cellphone, reduce costs and deliver services that are more effective with a smaller footprint.
But even as DoD sets its sights on futuristic satellite capabilities, it faces an increasingly contested and congested environment in space and a growing number and type of threats, including cyber threats.
“As we launch more and more infrastructure into orbit in a more crowded environment, traditionally we’ve had a dedicated ground station for every satellite and every constellation. That will become an unsustainable model in the future,” said Palmer, who added in the future those ground stations will migrate to the Internet, introducing cyber risks. “I think we’re going to see a lot more investment in the future, and it may not be in the areas we would traditionally expect.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
28 Apr 16. NIE to decide fate of mid-tier vehicular network. The Network Integration Evaluation slated to start Monday will decide the fate of the mid-tier vehicular network. At the NIE, satellite communications will be shut off. If all goes well, the data will be pushed seamlessly through the mid-tier network instead. The Joint Battle Command-Platform, the Army’s networked battle command information system that shows units, in near real-time, where friendly and enemy forces are on the battlefield through maps, graphics and messages, will support the MNVR testing at NIE. Normally the JBC-P uses the Blue Force tracking network through a satellite transceiver to send information to the platform, but the satellite connectivity will be shut down and automatically connect to the MNVR. The capability has been tested once before, and it was deemed highly successful. The soldiers didn’t know they’d lost th