Opinion

Ensuring space superiority in a digital environment

The 2020 Defense Space Strategy states: “The DoD desires a secure, stable and accessible space domain, whose use by the U.S. and our allies and partners is underpinned by comprehensive, sustained military strength. U.S. allies and partners are increasingly interested in collaborating in the development of space capabilities, sharing space-related information and intelligence and partnering in space operations to secure access to, and ensure freedom of action in space.”

Digital engineering environments, or DEE, as well as model-based systems engineering, or MBSE, will be critical in leveraging space capabilities and achieving the goals of the new United States Space Force. The significant demand for the integration and interoperability of mission systems and data across the Department of Defense, intelligence communities, our allies and partners is essential in supporting the Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept, or JADC2.

A collaborative DEE provides the ability to acquire, integrate and synthesize data from various sources in a secure, robust, resilient enterprise environment. DEE maximizes situational awareness across all domains by providing rapid access to data, enabling decisive and effective operations.

It is imperative for us to align and integrate existing, stovepiped space missions, capabilities, and infrastructure as we evolve to transformative cloud-based, modular open architectures with software-enabled, service-based and networked strategic capabilities. Analyzing and understanding the relationships, the gaps/seams, and evolution of our vast and diverse systems will be a challenge.

DEE and MBSE provide the tool set required to link critical people, processes, digital tools, data, missions and infrastructure, creating a secure enterprise environment able to deliver assured capabilities to ensure U.S. space dominance. In order to develop, enhance, manage and sustain JADC2 system of systems — including associated technologies, organizational roles, responsibilities and affordability — the U.S. Space Force needs a unified architectural approach that supports operational flexibility and adaptability for current systems while facilitating integration of the future at the system-of-systems level.

I have seen firsthand how MBSE has been employed to develop a DEE. MBSE provides the framework to understand a system’s physical, functional and behavioral parameters, supporting requirements development, cost-versus-capability trade-space exploration, design optimization, modeling/simulation/analysis, verification, and validation activities beginning in the conceptual design phase and continuing throughout development and later life-cycle phases into operations and sustainment.

Both organizational enterprise and weapon-system models are critical to the DEE. They enhance traditional engineering practices by incorporating modern tools and methods that link elements together with a digital thread, enabling more effective, efficient and comprehensive cost, schedule and performance analyses. This expedites day-to-day program management, engineering and integration tasks. Digital engineering not only aims to integrate all data related to a system across the entire life cycle — from inception to operations and sustainment — but also to bridge the business processes across all functional disciplines. This approach creates an unprecedented level of intradisciplinary collaboration and integration across the entire business enterprise.

More specifically, the “space superiority” DEE approach requires a comprehensive enterprise architecture, or EA. The EA is much broader than engineering tools and their interfaces. It includes the enterprise strategic vision, capabilities, operational concepts, organizations and material solutions required to achieve MBSE adoption to the benefit of the war-fighting systems.

The EA framework embodies the strategy to execute and document integration event planning, decision-making, and resulting program and operational impacts. It includes the organizations' key performance parameters, measures of effectiveness and quality of service essential for mission success.

An enterprise consists of much more than a collection of individual systems of interest. An enterprise consists of a network of interdependent resources (e.g., people, processes, organizations, supporting technologies and funding). These elements interact with each other to coordinate functions, share information, allocate funding, create workflows and make decisions to achieve business and operational goals through a complex web distributed across geography and time. Most importantly, the model-based EA captures the evolution of the enterprise over time.

In summary, an EA simplifies and makes explicit the complicated relationships within the enterprise organization that are necessary to complete highly complex operational missions.

In the “space control” realm, weaving in current space situational awareness — including “Red and Blue Order of Battle” space assets, technical capabilities, global coverage, and orbital domains — with future requirements and threat data will deliver a high-fidelity, single, integrated space picture into the all-domain advanced battle management architecture.

The ultimate goal: a formidable, cyber-secure DEE operating across air, land, sea and space elements, enabling both new and legacy data to be collected, integrated, assessed and rapidly delivered to appropriate decision-makers to quickly respond to war-fighter needs to save lives and successfully execute joint domain missions.

The new chief of staff of the Air Force, Gen. Charles Brown Jr., pledged to build upon Gen. David Goldfein’s top priority to create a JADC2 environment as well as work with industry to ensure space superiority. The chief of space operations, Gen. Jay Raymond, stated: “I want the [U.S. Space Force] to be the first digital service.”

Developing a robust DEE enterprise will realize these priorities and deliver superior war-fighting capability by enabling collaborations and integrating military space capabilities into national, joint and combined air operations.

Peter Trainer is vice president and general manager of BAE Systems' Air Force Solutions business. He served as a U.S. Air Force officer, with assignments in space operations and support as well as in the Air Force secretary’s legislative liaison staff. He retired as a colonel and at the time was working as senior individual mobilization augmentee to the director of the National Reconnaissance Office.

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