Appendix A
Global Presence

Global presence includes a full range of potential activities ranging from the physical interaction of military forces and targets to the "virtual interaction" between information systems envisioned by the "information warriors." We will explore the idea of global presence by discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the space systems which could yield "global space presence" in 2025. Key technologies will ultimately be identified that link global space presence to a global space-strike capability and to the integrated network of sensors, communications, and information processing required to collect data from any (and every) area of the planet and convert it into information and knowledge in a suitably short time frame. Along the way, we will emphasize the important synergy and interconnectedness between military and commercial space systems in 2025.

Figure A-1. Space Operations Missions

Figure A-1. Space Operations Missions

Some Important Definitions

Global space presence means providing military space capability, including non-belligerent applications and/or leveraging of information, to deter or compel an actor or affect a situation.148 Through global space reach and global space power, multiplied by global space awareness and backed up by sustainment and readiness, the Air Force can provide an unmatched power projection capability to America's joint force in 2025.149

Global space reach includes those activities conducted from space that improve the operational effectiveness of military forces operating in all mediums (space, air, land, sea, subsurface).

Global space power involves the application of the full spectrum of force, physical and virtual, from space on demand to an adversary's means of pursuing the conflict.

Global space awareness is achieved through the integrated, worldwide acquisition, transmission, storage, and processing of information through space to enhance the employment of all military forces.

Readiness and sustainment means providing the ability to mount and support continuous military operations.150

Global space presence is a vital capability that can only be achieved by a nation with global space reach, global space power, global space awareness, and a robust readiness and sustainment system. By 2025, a nation that hopes to reap the benefits of great power status must possess global space presence.

In 1996, military space operations are organized to perform four core missions.151 These mission areas are equally critical to the future success of US military operations at all levels-strategic, operational, and tactical. Space operations have already impacted the combat arms and the combat support elements of all branches of the US military through space reconnaissance, surveillance, and communication. The four core missions focus on enabling or supporting terrestrial (land, sea, air, and subsurface) military operations with assets operating from space (force enhancement); providing freedom of access to and operation in space for friendly forces while denying enemy access (space-control); applying force, both physical and virtual, to terrestrial military targets with weapon systems operating from space (force application); and conducting launch support and on-orbit military command and control for crucial military space assets (space support). Since these mission areas overlap, actual military space operations are broader than any one mission area.152

Appendix B
The System of Systems

All the systems of the force application system-of-systems must be integrated with all the other systems that interface with it. On board (guidance, maneuvering) and off board (surveillance, some processing) systems all work together as a distributed system-of-systems.


The surveillance, acquisition, and tracking/battle damage assessment(SAT/BDA) requirements fall into the general mission category of force enhancement. The impact of cost constraints and rapidly developing technologies on the Defense Department is moving the initiative in these areas toward the commercial sector. The global positioning system (GPS) is a prominent modern example, with commercial units being bought by the thousands to support Operation Desert Storm. It is very likely, therefore, that a significant amount of surveillance, acquisition, and tracking and battle damage assessment will depend on commercial concepts or commercial assets by 2025. This will be an important factor in two ways. First, a great amount of equipment will be available "off the shelf," and not just in America. Given their high cost, satellite assets will probably be shared, and not always by allies. Who will be in control?

One of the biggest questions in a multinational world, with multinational corporations, is whether we will have access to the information we need. If we do not wish to build duplicate military systems, we must in some way assure ourselves of access to commercial assets while retaining the capability to block an opponent's access. This might be done through treaties or binding business arrangements, but most likely we will need some built-in capability to literally seize control of the necessary portions of shared commercial satellite assets.

The global information network (GIN) of 2025 is the obvious and probably the only affordable place to perform most of the SAT/BDA function. If the military's relatively limited (a matter of funding, not ingenuity) computers, sensors, and dedicated communications are not linked to the GIN, it will be impossible to assemble an accurate "digital picture of the battlefield" in real time. Linkage to the GIN will also provide ready access to rich sources of information unavailable to the modern war fighter. From the perspective of a space-strike weapon system, the availability of multiple views in many sensory bands of each target is an irresistible advantage. This suggests most SAT/BDA functions in 2025 will be performed "off platform" for space-strike weapon systems, making the development of secure, jam-resistant communication links a top priority. Two possibilities have been suggested in this regard: redundant radio frequency (RF) links in many frequency bands, possibly including spread spectrum techniques, and ultrawideband optical communications.153

Figure B-2. Battlespace Awareness

Figure B-2. Battlespace Awareness


Surveillance can be defined as "systematic observation of aerospace, surface, or subsurface areas, places, persons or things by visual, electronic, photographic or other means."154 The requirement for this information seems critical today, but in the much faster world of 2025, real-time information will be an absolute imperative. The most survivable and effective way of obtaining real-time surveillance in 2025 will involve networking and fusing sensory data from a wide variety of military, civil, commercial, and even foreign (allied) assets. This exciting possibility awaits technical advances in wideband communications, wide-area networks, data fusion, and above all a far greater number of fielded sensors. That industry is already moving into the area of high-resolution remote sensing (and especially satellite remote sensing) is obvious from the many recent announcements of commercial satellite imaging systems with a spatial resolution approaching one meter.155

In 2025, surveillance systems operating from space will provide the war fighter with indispensable real-time, accurate, preprocessed information. Satellite systems will provide wide spectrum coverage, including visual, infrared, RF, and active radar, for fusing with air-, sea-, and land-based networks of distributed sensors.156 Fusion and dissemination of surveillance data will be handled by a distributed, wide-area network of computers (probably based on microprocessors in a parallel architecture) linked by the communications system described below in the section on "utilities." The war fighter and his weapon systems, whether air-, sea-, land-, or space-based, will be able to access this information on demand, probably in a graphically oriented format. The Spacecast 2020 study is correct in its claim that "a system and architecture must exist to provide a high resolution 'picture' of objects in space, in the air, on the surface, and below the surface-be they concealed, mobile or stationary, animate or inanimate."157 The real challenge will not be the collection of sufficient data, but its processing into useful, easily digested forms. This will be an ever greater challenge as the amount of types of available information grows between now and 2025.

Acquisition and Targeting

Today "sensors, computers, and communications jointly comprise the essence of targeting."158 America's main investment in these systems will be commercial by 2025, with a "sprinkling" of important, well-protected (hardening, stealth, CONUS basing, deception), military-only or military-priority assets. This dispersion of assets will be an advantage, since properly designed, distributed systems are much more survivable than centralized, dedicated systems, and because it may be impossible to determine which portion of which physical asset is being used by the military at any one time. Surveillance and acquisition functions can and should, therefore, be provided by "off platform" distributed systems.

Targeting is a more complex and specialized function. By 2025, automated target acquisition and identification will finally be a reality. The necessary databases and specialized information processing assets can be made available through the GIN, which will also be linked to any specialized military sensor data that might be required to deal with particularly difficult targets. Automated target acquisition and identification is the subject of intense research today, and many promising approaches are being investigated on conventional supercomputers and clever, proprietary combinations of electronic and optical computers.159 Commercial satellite remote-sensing systems are already in development with spatial resolutions good enough to identify aircraft, surface ships, land mines, and most smaller vehicles.160 The results of the primarily off platform acquisition and targeting functions will then be handed off to the weapon platform, which will provide the tracking and force-application functions.

The Spacecast 2020 special study discusses a similar approach. "With appropriate algorithms and beam selection, it is conceivable that the entire sensor constellation could be available for collection all the time. Fusing of the reflected data from a single "taste" [speaking metaphorically] would take place on a central platform, probably in geosynchronous orbit."161 By 2025, there will be no need for a vulnerable, central collection platform. With the continual miniaturization of computers and electronics, improved network hardware and software, and redundant wideband communication links (both optical and RF) these data collection and fusion can and should be shared among a variety of platforms, space and earth-based.162 This approach has the enormous advantage of eliminating critical nodes in the US military information system.

Battle Damage Assessment

"BDA has historically been a task of considerable difficulty because the wide range of munitions utilized, the target types attacked and the modes of attack have precluded the application of any single, reliable method."163 This problem is further complicated by our current strategy of pursuing parallel strategic attacks. By 2025, the solution to this problem will be evident in the "digital picture of the battlefield" assembled from the fused input of myriad sensors of many different types linked wirelessly to the GIN. The very system needed to survey and acquire targets will be used to assess battle damage. The advantages are obvious: cost effectiveness through elimination of redundant sensors and communications, nearly instant assessment of the need for restrike, and economy of force by avoiding the expenditure of unnecessary strikes. Additionally, accomplishing BDA through the GIN would provide instant, automatic feedback to the logistics system of the number and nature of resources expended.164


During Operation Desert Storm, American and allied forces relied heavily upon space-based systems for navigation, weather information, secure communications and surveillance support. These and other space assets played a key role in the successful prosecution of the Gulf War. The reliance of the American military on these systems will only grow with time.

The quantity and quality of information that can be gained from the vantage of space enhances the power of existing terrestrial forces, both conventional and unconventional, by providing more and better information ever more rapidly. This rapid movement of information, no matter what the source, will become increasingly essential to all aspects of military operations. The near-real-time capability in communication, navigation, and weather sensing offered by the proper utilization of space assets and the opportunities they present make these functions critical to the successful military exploitation of space. No space-strike weapon system can operate without the information provided by communications, navigation, and weather systems. That is why these functions are called "utilities" in this paper.


The US military has become more and more dependent on radio frequency (RF) communications since World War II. Currently, worldwide military communications depend on several constellations of RF communications satellites, including the high-frequency (HF) and ultrahigh frequency (UHF) Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS); the UHF, superhigh frequency (SHF), and extremely high-frequency (EHF) Fleet Satellite Communications (FLTSATCOM) and Ultrahigh Frequency Follow-On (UFO) Systems; and the secure, jam-resistant UHF, SHF, and EHF capable Milstar System.165 Submarine cables, fiber-optic lines, and microwave radio can compete with satellite communication systems only for geographically fixed, wideband service. Satellites are unchallenged in the area of wideband transmissions to mobile terminals, which is precisely the area of greatest need for the military.

During Operation Desert Storm, even the United States's apparently robust satellite communications architecture was overwhelmed-the coalition was forced to lease time on the INTELSAT and SKYNET systems, although the total capability was still "grossly inadequate." The total requirement for voice, data, and video links for the Gulf War ("only" a major regional contingency) was staggering. The worldwide network assembled for Operation Desert Storm involved practically every type of commercial, strategic, and tactical telecommunication equipment available. Unsurprisingly, network management and control was "a sub-optimized, manual process . . . improvised on the spot and under enormous pressure for instant results." It is now generally agreed that "a mix of military and commercial networks is the only way to provide adequate communications support in the future."166

The most likely military communications architecture in 2025 is a shared commercial satellite communications system. This system will be based on a large constellation (hundreds or thousands) of small satellites in low earth orbit. Each satellite will be cross-linked to every other satellite with a mixture of truly wideband solid-state laser communication links (digital data rates in excess of 10 gigabytes/second) and high-speed RF back-up links (60 Ghz or greater). Most downlinks will still involve RF technology, since it is simple and inexpensive, but the most demanding traffic will have to be handled optically. Ground stations will be simple and easily relocatable, since each satellite will carry its own formidable computer brain to manage the communications traffic redundantly (the inevitable consequence of the explosion in computer processing speed and capacity). Ground line communications will be nearly nonexistent (too expensive), except for emergency back-up systems and a few ultrasecure, jam-resistant communication systems (based on optical fiber as the only way to handle the load). In the world of 2025, every person could contact anyone, anywhere, at any time, if properly equipped.


The Navstar GPS satellite navigation system currently provides reliable three-dimensional position information with an accuracy and precision of 16 meters and time with an accuracy of 0.1 microseconds (uncorrupted version).167 Whenever enough satellites are in view, GPS can even provide velocity and acceleration information. Combined with inexpensive commercial receivers, GPS navigation was critical to the success of coalition forces in the Gulf War. This information is good enough to pilot cruise missiles hundreds of miles to large targets and to provide targeting coordinates for modern PGMs. It is not good enough for many of the space-strike weapons described earlier in this paper, which require extreme time and position accuracies (a few nanoseconds in time, centimeters in position) to be fully effective.

The Spacecast 2020 special study recognized the need for an improved navigation system in their Super GPS white paper.168 In 2025, such a system will be owned and controlled by civilian organizations-the Federal Aviation Agency is assuming greater control over the existing GPS constellation every day. The most likely candidates for control of the Super GPS system of 2025 are the Federal Aviation Agency (or more likely an internationalized successor) and one or more international commercial concerns. The system, based on a larger constellation of small satellites in LEO for increased coverage and on-orbit redundancy, will certainly be more accurate and precise. It is difficult to predict where the constantly evolving commercial demand for three-dimensional positioning information will be in 2025, but it is probably safe to forecast performance measured in feet (large fractions of a meter). Military demands in excess of this will be handled either by small military-owned payloads on the commercial satellites or by a small military-funded augmentation to the commercial constellation.


Military commanders have always needed timely, accurate weather information to mount successful campaigns. This need will be even more urgent in 2025, when optimal use of all forces will require real-time information on all battlefield conditions. Additionally, space-strike weapons need a mixture of space weather data and battlefield environmental data to be effective. Space-based HPMW beams can be disrupted by intense solar winds. Space-strike lasers are dispersed by water clouds and battlefield dust and smoke. Hypervelocity kinetic energy weapons must have good information concerning the state of the atmosphere to reach the proper spot on the target.

Industry is developing smaller and higher performance remote sensors with every passing day.169 Commercial demand and commercial funding is already out stripping the military's capabilities (everyone needs to know about the weather). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is already taking charge of what were once military-controlled weather satellites.170 These trends strongly suggest that long before 2025, weather-related remote sensing will be entirely controlled by industry. The commercially controlled weather monitoring and prediction system in 2025 will probably depend on a sophisticated suite of ultraminiaturized electronics and sensors operating as a secondary payload on a LEO satellite communications constellation, thereby taking advantage of existing down and cross-links. A few small weather satellites will still be parked at geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) to take advantage of its larger-scale view of earth and to monitor "space weather" at a distance from the less-placid LEO environment. While most requirements for weather-related information in a military theater of operations will be handled by this mix of LEO and GEO weather satellites, some detailed weapon system requirements for data on surface conditions will still have to be handled by a network of ground-based sensors connected to the global information network.

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Last updated: 11 December 1996

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