It’s a complex system designed to stay ahead of threats.
Right now, contractors in the U.S. are busily building a defense system that will blanket our planet with satellites.
The Space Development Agency, part of the U.S. Space Force, has designed a complex system created in multiple layers.
It’s called the National Defense Space Architecture. (NDSA)
There are seven layers to this architecture, each with its own priorities.
- Transport Layer is the framework for the entire system.
- The Battle Management Layer provides command and control, and other tasks related to mission control.
- Tracking is a communications layer to identify and track and target threats including hypersonic missile systems.
- Custody provides support for the strategy of denying the enemy's first strike abilities.
- The Deterrence layer also called the Emerging Capabilities Cell will incubate new mission concepts.
- Navigation Layer will find different ways to navigate when GPS isn’t available.
- Support Layer is the communications infrastructure that will manage and host all communications as well as provide for general computing, networking, and storage capabilities.
Now that’s a lot to take in at once and some of isn’t entirely clear at first glance.
I’m not in the military, and I’m certainly not an engineer with experience in Space technology.
But I can understand ‘management-speak’ from years of working in large corporations. And Google is my friend.
Here’s my attempt at deciphering the defense department's lingo. I welcome your constructive comments.
This is the physical layer of satellites that are being launched right now.
These satellites will create a blanket around the globe, allowing Space Force to monitor activity on the surface and in space.
Battle Management Layer.
This is where the rubber meets the road.
In a battle, the soldier who can move from finding a target to eliminating the target is usually the winner.
This layer manages the mission using a system designed for efficiency.
It’s called the Kill Chain Cycle.
Find, Fix, Track, Target, Engage and Assess are the six stages.
Speed is of the essence here.
The Battle Management Layer uses high-quality optical data links to speed up the kill chain cycle.
Here’s an example.
- Take a Harrier pilot and an F16 pilot that has an early data link system.
- The Harrier pilot would find a target using a step-by-step process. They would confirm the sighting of a building, then communicate directions to the missile launcher. These directions might be ‘move 20 meters north.’ This method might take 10 minutes before the target would be acquired.
- The F-16 pilot would use the optical link to quickly acquire the target, with heading, distance, elevation, description, and location provided all at once. They could immediately send the data to the missile launcher.
This is a layer full of sensors that are watching and listening to the earth and the space around the planet, as well as deep space. It’s intended to ensure we aren’t caught unprepared.
The Custody Layer.
Takes care of targets that might launch nuclear ballistic weapons. It’s a preventative measure.
This technique is commonly called ‘Left-Of-Launch’.
The main strategy is to attack the electronic radar signatures of the target’s command and control systems before they launch.
If that doesn’t work, it can also attack the targeting systems of any missiles in the air.
This is where the future exists, and possibly aliens.
No, seriously, the deterrence layer looks at the area outside of earth’s Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO). That’s deep space, usually outside of where weather satellites are.
We only have satellites that look at lower orbits (LEO). The area between GEO and the moon is becoming an area of interest.
I’m not sure if they are considering another mesh of satellites outside of GEO or if this will be a series of shoot first, ask questions later missiles?
The idea is to detect and identify the source of any threats in deep space. If deterrence fails, this layer is to offer “techniques for mitigating” those threats.
When GPS is not available, this layer will figure out options for navigation. They might include optical crosslinks using satellites and ground imaging systems, signals using waveforms, and cryptographic systems for secure communications. Radio communications anyone?
It’s the human in the loop layer.
This is where the behind-the-scenes communications support and training exist.
This layer will manage all of the other layers, host software applications, manage communication gateways, and generally provide system networking and storage capabilities. In other words, it’s the mother of all hard drives.
That’s the U.S. National Defense Space Architecture.
Space Force recently met with senior government officials to give an update on their progress and revealed details of the threats posed by China and Russia in Space. More to come.
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