WASHINGTON — As the Pentagon modernizes its satellite communications enterprise, its first task will be to develop standards to improve data sharing among SATCOM networks, according to an enterprise-level strategy released this week.
U.S. Department of Defense Chief Information Officer John Sherman approved the Enterprise SATCOM Management and Control Implementation Plan in December and released it publicly Wednesday. The document provides guidance for DoD agencies that design, operate and develop space-based communications capabilities and lays out a phased approach to modernizing SATCOM capabilities to improve collaboration with partners and make systems more resilient against threats.
“The global threat landscape is constantly evolving and remaining competitive, and modernizing our digital environment is imperative for the Department of Defense to meet challenges not only from great powers and regional adversaries, but also from violent and criminal non-state actors and extremists,” the report states. “We must act now to secure our future.”
The strategy comes as the Space Force is crafting a plan for providing networked SATCOM capabilities, which are foundational to DoD’s vision for Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or more rapid, networked data sharing across the military services. That plan will consider how to better integrate SATCOM from commercial providers like SpaceX and international partners, and early findings will inform the service’s fiscal 2024 budget request.
The Space Force has a number of SATCOM modernization efforts underway, including the Protected Satellite Communications program, which aims to improve satellite anti-jam capabilities. The Space Development Agency is also developing a fleet of networked data transport satellites.
The DoD CIO plan features a three-phased implementation approach, starting in fiscal 2023 with improving data standards — a step aimed at enabling better information sharing. The second phase, which will start in fiscal 2024, is geared toward integrating DoD data and network management. The last stage involves delivering enterprise-level capabilities that automate certain tasks and bring together situational awareness data. That work will begin in fiscal 2026 and continue through fiscal 2029.
The document identifies U.S. Space Command as the lead global SATCOM operator and manager, the Space Force as the head of force design, the Defense Information Systems Agency as the service provider for the enterprise and the DoD CIO as the lead architect for SATCOM capabilities, providing oversight for implementation efforts.
Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET’s space and emerging technology reporter. She has covered the U.S. military since 2012, with a focus on the Air Force and Space Force. She has reported on some of the Defense Department’s most significant acquisition, budget and policy challenges.