There is no doubt that a new budgetary climate has taken hold for space operations, as discussed by IGC President Kay Sears last week. That said, there are also clear trends that point to bandwidth demands GROWING as American troops pull out of current engagements around the world, rather than decreasing. This will be due to a growing emphasis on special operations and more UAV flights, which consume huge amounts of SATCOM bandwidth.
The Wall Street Journal made the case plainly last week. The article “More Drones, Fewer Troops” lays out elements of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s budget plan:
“The plan, to be unveiled by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday and in budget documents next month, calls for a 30% increase in the U.S. fleet of armed unmanned aircraft in the coming years, defense officials said. It also foresees the deployment of more special-operations teams at a growing number of small "lily pad" bases across the globe where they can mentor local allies and launch missions.”
“The Air Force now operates 61 drone combat air patrols around the clock, with up to four drones in each patrol. Mr. Panetta's plan calls for the military to have enough drones to comfortably operate 65 combat air patrols constantly with the ability to temporarily surge to 85 combat air patrols, officials said.”
Last month GovConExec talked about a new kind of C4ISR emerging, powered by SATCOM and enabling unprecedented levels of agility and precision:
“Navy SEALS kill Bin Laden in precision mission. Intel surveillance aids Libyan rebels. Satellites monitor humanitarian crisis in Africa. Unmanned drone takes out terrorist leader. Mobile communications improve hurricane response.”
The article also talks about a growing convergence of defense and intelligence operations. These operations demand a different kind of military, and superior situational awareness. As the military makes some very hard budgetary decisions, SATCOM resources that provide this situational awareness must be given priority.
And as bandwidth demands continue to spiral upwards, commercial SATCOM grows even more attractive due to its superior speeds of procurement and deployment. Traditional military forces will contract, but IGC is excited to help our customers transition to a new C4ISR age.