Industry has been watching with keen interest for a Department of Defense study on the future of satellite communications, but a new National Defense Strategy could impact the satellite communications world as well.

“It’s about the war fighter. It’s about obtaining mission effectiveness and as the secretary who is the ultimate decision maker for us, has stated in the national [defense] strategy, it’s about lethality,” Norman Yarbrough, operations research analyst in the Office of the deputy assistant secretary of defense for C3, cyber, and business systems, said during a panel discussion March 14 at the Satellite 2018 conference in Washington, D.C.. “How much better can we hold targets at risk or hold the adversary at risk. How much readiness do we want to have … Ultimately, the use of SATCOM … is certainly going to feed into doing that.”

DoD is looking to work with industry on several metrics, including lethality, readiness and survivability of forces. Senior leaders also want to know how much better is the Defense Department positioned to fulfill its missions as it invests the dollars into this satellite communications capability, he added.

In the current analysis of alternative process, DoD is trying to better understand how specific satellite architectures would work, including what are the use cases, what are the warfighters who can best be served by the particular strengths of each of the concepts while paying homage to the weaknesses as well, Yarbrough said.

“It’s ultimately about a risk versus reward for the department as we go forward,” he said. “The trade space that we’re looking at is still wide open … [we’re] trying to understand how the range of alternatives the department could look at whether it’s purely purpose built … all the way to using purely commercial systems and the enterprises that go along with those commercial systems, they’re all still in play.”

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

More In Satellites