A Space Architecture for a Future Battle Network

Delivering the right data means quickly collecting, analyzing, fusing, and sharing information. Battle networks must be able to fast-track the flow of useful information to enable troops to make effective and faster decisions.

FREMONT, CA: As data transforms all areas, including the battlefield, future battle networks are likely to rely more on space systems to ensure the network is adequately global, resilient, and responsive.

Though a battle network’s resilience is crucial, it means little if the network is not responsive. This is because a key characteristic of warfare in a digital era is how dependent contemporary militaries, specifically weapon systems, are on data. But more than raw or unrefined data, weapon systems and troops need refined data that is easy to act upon. Providing the correct data means quickly collecting, analyzing, fusing, and sharing information. Battle networks must be able to expedite the flow of helpful information to enable troops to make better and faster decisions.

Now, new space technologies—such as the internet from space, novel earth imagery, and AI—and lower implementation costs are essential elements of the emerging commercial space sector and future battle networks. Given the overlap between commercial and battle network requirements, commercial technology can supplement the military space sector in interesting ways. For instance, unlike a fighter aircraft or an aircraft carrier, which are purposely built for the military, many of the elements required in the space segment of a battle network could be commercial during peacetime but serve military purposes during periods of conflict.

Just as the U.S. used commercial imagery and weather forecasting to enable combat operations during the Gulf War, commercial satellite communication, imagery, data processing, and other capabilities critical to the future battle network could be utilized as a service when the US military needs them. The military will likely require some military-specific space segment assets, but commercial capabilities can offer a highly efficient way of augmenting military systems to provide a future battle network with the ideal reach, resilience, and responsiveness.

Weekly Brief