1998 Congressional Hearings





March 11, 1998

SUBJECT: U.S. National Security Space Programs and Issues

STATEMENT OF: Mr. Keith R. Hall

Director, National Reconnaissance Office

Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Space)

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I am pleased to join General Estes in discussing our National Security Space programs. I would like to discuss our efforts to increase Air Force and National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) integration and highlight specific points you should be aware of in the

Fiscal Year (FY) 1999 National Reconnaissance Program (NRP).

Criticality of U.S. Space Capabilities

Today our U.S. space capabilities are the indispensable tools of global leadership. In the next century, this will be even more true. Our national and military leaders rely on overhead systems to provide global awareness of threats and to focus instantaneously on specific areas of crisis. They are accustomed to basing decisions on the remarkably solid, broad, and detailed foundation of information provided by satellite reconnaissance.

Our leadership in the field of space, particularly space reconnaissance, gives the U.S. a significant edge in any potential hostilities. Space systems provide global

communications, precision navigation, accurate meteorological data, early warning of missile launches, and near-real-time signals and imagery support to the commander in the field. The warfighting Commanders-in-Chief and the Joint Staff have repeatedly underscored the necessity of assured and continuous availability of these systems. They have stated requirements for, and we are providing, real time reporting on the operational status of our space systems. Joint Vision 2010 is predicated on the continued information dominance provided by our space capabilities.

Enhancing Cooperation and Integration of Black and White Space

As the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space and the Director of the NRO, I have worked to strengthen collaboration between the Air Force and the NRO to deliver a preeminent space capability, sooner, better, and cheaper. Let me review the steps I have taken over the past year to increase the integration of so-called black and white space:

First, we have made significant progress in building the framework for the oversight and management of defense and intelligence space programs. Based on the 1996 agreement between the NRO and the Department of Defense (DoD) to follow a "Two Architects, One Architecture" policy, we pursued several joint architecture efforts which produced new levels of cooperation and integration between the two communities. In collaboration with the DoD Space Architect we produced a joint space control protection architecture study. This groundbreaking effort was presented to the Joint Space Management Board last May. This year, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Defense Reform Initiative Number 11, "Reorganization of DoD Space Management Responsibilities," presents us with an opportunity to take that final step forward and integrate the NRO and DoD space functions into a single national security space architecture. That effort, when combined with new approached for streamlined oversight, should lead to more capable, integrated, and cost effective space systems.

We have moved aggressively to bring military insight to bear in every phase of the design, development, and construction of new satellite systems. There was a time when the NRO built systems for intelligence purposes, and then looked for military applications for those systems. Today, our systems are increasingly responsible to operational needs and the military is an integral partner and participant in our space mission. As we begin a revolutionary research and development (R&D) program and new acquisition efforts for Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Imagery Intelligence, our military partners are helping shape the next generation of satellites.

We have formed an Air Force-NRO Integration Planning Group, a small team which will search out new collaborative ventures that will enhance our capabilities, reduce the costs of space services, and improve our support to the military customer. This team will develop and promote new ideas and serve as the focal point for examining and coordinating innovative Air Force-NRO program integration concepts.

We continue to undertake new programs to educate and train military users in how to utilize space capabilities effectively. The NRO and U.S. Space Command Customer Support Teams in the field assist warfighters in integrating space systems data into their operations. The NRO Training and Exercise support project, a joint project of the NRO and the Defense Space Reconnaissance Program, uses simulations to ensure that military users understand and effectively employ NRO systems and products in real-world operations. This past year, the NRO supported over 80 exercises world-wide. These are just a few examples of our educational programs.

Our efforts to reduce the classification of our product means that much of our data is now available at the secret level for direct use by the warfighter--this has been a major factor in the military's revolution in information dominance.

We have continued the effort to improve dissemination concepts and the application of data collected from space. To give you just one example, we are developing a system of feeding

up-to-date imagery and targeting information directly into the cockpit as a pilot is en route to the target. This system has already been successfully tested in Bosnia.

We have undertaken joint technology demonstrations with the Air Force. Most notably, we have reached an agreement among the NRO, the Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to proceed with a space-based, ground moving target indicator (MTI) technology demonstration program in FY 1998. This demonstration will be jointly funded among the three participating organizations. While the resources we are devoting in FY 1999 are relatively modest, this effort will pay significant future dividends to both the NRO and the Air Force. It will not only enhance our ability to provide a quick and agile response to military requirements, it will provide experience that will serve us well in future joint ventures, and in the design of the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA).

I would like to acknowledge the role of the Congress, the Defense Science Board, and DARPA in getting the MTI program defined and underway.

A Strong, Responsive National Reconnaissance Program

The NRO has just submitted to Congress its FY 1999 program budget proposal, which is, from top to bottom, a product of the debate over the future of our space systems. Contention over the use of smaller satellites, the nature of certain technology demonstrations, cross-collection synergy, and other critical elements of our space programs has generated innovative approaches to a host of challenges. The MTI is one of those solutions, there are many others on which I cannot elaborate in an unclassified setting. I would now like to provide the basic outlines of the FY 1999 NRP. The details are contained in our classified submissions to Congress.

The NRO continues to introduce and develop the collection architecture of the future that will ensure U.S. Information Superiority as called for in Joint Vision 2010. In designing this architecture, we accepted the challenge to build smaller, less expensive, and more capable satellites through a streamlined and more open acquisition process. We are on track to meet our objectives and we have the support of our product users, who have

been involved in all aspects of system architecture definition. I want to emphasize that the cold war inventory of satellites for our future programs to minimize the risk of outages and gaps in coverage.

In the area of imagery intelligence, we are completing the development of the Enhanced Imaging System in response to growing customer demands and large area imagery collection shortfalls. At the same time, we are developing FIA, which will capitalize on available small satellite technology to address the needs of tomorrow's customers in the most effective way possible. I would note that FIA responds to an exhaustive study of customer needs. General Estes and U.S. Space Command have played an instrumental role in ensuring warfighter needs are represented and prioritized.

In the area of SIGINT, we are introducing an Integrated Overhead SIGINT Architecture (IOSA) that will improve SIGINT performance and avoid costs by consolidating systems, utilizing medium lift launch vehicles wherever possible, and using new

satellite and data processing technologies. At the urging of Congress, we have initiated the study phase for the follow-on architecture, IOSA-2.

We are developing a Future Communications Architecture (FCA) that will be critical to the success of these future imagery and signals intelligence systems. The FCA will consist of a network of satellites and ground communications systems that will allow us to move and process large volumes of information from operational collection systems. It is the essential element in our emerging system-of-systems concept which will enable better integration of data from all intelligence sources, and ensure that collection architectures work together effectively.

To move these programs forward, we are undertaking "revolutionary" research initiatives that will allow the Air Force and the NRO to successfully support critical national security objectives in the next century. Major General Richard Paul, Director of the Air Force Research Laboratory, and I have agreed to coordinate our research and development programs, and

to rotate talented individuals in key assignments across both organizations. The NRO has stepped up to this commitment by increasing our R&D Budget to 8 percent of the total NRP in FY 1999, with a future goal of 10 percent. We have created an Advanced Systems and Technology Directorate to identify promising technologies and to push revolutionary concepts from the development stage into flight demonstration. Here, we are also supporting and leveraging advances in commercial space. I fully support commercial space initiatives, and believe they will enable enhanced national security capabilities and help reduce cost.

If our military forces are to accrue the full advantages of space, we must have a robust space architecture. I have great confidence that we have a balanced, affordable program that will provide such an architecture. With support from the Congress, it will give us space systems that are less costly and better able to serve our customers, both national and military, today and into the next century.

The Need for Budget Stability

As the U.S. dependence on space has grown, so have the risks--and potential costs--of an interruption in space services. If we are to deliver on the promise of the NRP, we must have budget stability. To close the FY 1998 program, we had to slip acquisition schedules, cut products that had been enthusiastically received by our customers, and reduce to near zero the margin of funding that we rely on to respond to the unforeseen problems that are a "given" in inherently risky development programs. Continued program instability could limit our ability to respond to crises, blunt the pursuit of revolutionary improvements in capabilities, and threaten the continuity of service in overhead intelligence collection.

If we cancel or re-plan an NRO program, it should be a conscious and considered opinion, with the risks to our national security carefully weighed. Without such an approach, the result will be increased risk to our national security with no savings in resources to the taxpayer.


In closing, Mr. Chairman, allow me to emphasize to this committee that our intelligence satellites are a truly extraordinary national resource; they have played a silent, but crucial role in making this the American Century. They are our daily workhorses which provide global access and data that ensures our information is superior to that of our adversaries.

I believe that our space capabilities will be not only essential to U.S. national security in the next century, they will be a tremendous boon to U.S. world leadership, technological robustness, and economic competitiveness. I ask that Congress support the NRP and provide the budget stability that will allow us to maintain stable and reliable support to our national and military customers.