Recent comments by General William Shelton, Commander of Air Force Space Command, are an encouraging sign that innovative approaches in space acquisition and architecture development are being considered at the highest military levels.
General Shelton spoke earlier this month and outlined ways to bolster the critical role satellites play to support U.S military operations in the 21st Century. To protect America’s superiority in space, our military must consider new approaches that ensure the delivery of these services.
One of these new approaches is disaggregation. Shelton is quoted as saying, “Distributing space payloads across multiple satellite platforms increases U.S. resiliency. At a minimum, it complicates our adversaries’ targeting calculus.”
To sustain this capability, he called on DoD to find architectural alternatives to some of its multi-mission, multi-payload platforms. Commercial satellites are a very attractive alternative as they already support DoD operations worldwide, most importantly for ISR which is central to how we protect and reinforce our national security.
We at Intelsat General and our commercial space brethren welcome the General’s remarks. We feel his comments are consistent with the better buying ideas offered last year by our industry and an important step in adding such alternatives to the architecture.
These concrete suggestions will support the goals of "affordability," "resiliency," and "portfolio optimization” we hear mentioned so often. Commercial providers have a proven track record of delivering value, and we hope we will get the chance to provide this in the near future by formally becoming part of the military space architecture.
In his remarks, General Shelton suggested that commercial providers could provide most if not all of the “standard wideband communication services” the military requires. We agree and support initiatives like SMC’s Pathfinder and multi-year contracting to provide both the incentives and the authorities to deliver this vision. General Shelton’s comments and SMC’s forward-looking approach should be commended.
The U.S. military and commercial satellite operators have worked together for over 20 years in space and provide space-based services no other country can match. General Shelton’s comments recognize that in an era of growing threats and shrinking budgets partnering with commercial providers using unique approaches is more critical than ever.