NMD/Pine Gap/Star Wars

Costs Mount for Full Spectrum Dominance

By Susan M. Menke, Government Computer News Staff. 2 March 04

The integrated space-air-land-sea battlespace envisioned by the Defense Department and industry will cost about $200 billion over the next decade, Boeing Co.'s Roger Roberts said today.

The price is based on the approximate $10 billion operating cost per satellite laid out in the Office of the Secretary of Defense's overarching vision, plus $100 billion or more for building next-generation tanks, robotic aircraft and other hardware, said Roberts.

The Boeing senior vice president, who is also chairman of subsidiary Boeing Satellite Systems International Inc. of El Segundo, Calif., spoke today at a Washington breakfast sponsored by Boeing.

"The power of net-centric defeats anything that can be done with a single platform," said Roberts. "The integrated battlespace can do persistent surveillance and dynamic tasking," whereas satellites now must have all their tasks predefined in advance.

The nation's first real network-centric system was the Ballistic Missile Defense System planned in the 1990s, Roberts said.

Powered flight has existed for a century, geosynchronous satellites for 40 years and the Web for about 10. Just as they have radically altered the world, net-centricity will force the military to change its ways, he said.

"The guy in the field will have better information than the general or admiral. He can change the operations. There will be new kinds of battle plans that we haven't even dreamed about," Roberts said. "The levels of networked information available must come from new rules of engagement" that the military must develop.

Within the next couple of years, he predicted, "we will have to sort all this out. Force transformation has begun. The Future Combat Systems decision has been made. Is transformation going to be far enough along that we can start to get rid of legacy systems? Or have we got to buy more legacy?"

Another looming decision, Roberts said, is "a difference of opinion on technology" for uplink-downlink satellite battlespace communications.

Contracts are well under way for the Global Information Grid, which is supposed to link all of DOD's terrestrial assets with huge optical-fiber bandwidth. Space-to-aircraft communications will use so-called wideband lasercom connectivity, he said, and several programs will use tactical wideband or narrowband communications.

But for space to land, the military disagrees about laser communications versus software-programmable radio, Roberts said. "The more conservative elements favor radio up and down," he said, although the military services use different radio waveforms that have yet to be made interoperable.

To make the terrestrial linkages at the bottom layer intrinsically secure, he said, Boeing and 15 other vendors have formed an industry consortium to promote open standards under nondisclosure agreements.

The other consortium members are Accenture Ltd.; BAE Systems North America of Rockville, Md; Cisco Systems Inc.; European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. of the Netherlands; EMC Corp. of Hopkinton, Mass.; General Dynamics Corp.; Hewlett-Packard Co.; IBM Corp.; L-3 Communications of New York; Northrop Grumman Corp.; Oracle Corp.; Raytheon Co.; Rockwell Collins Inc. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Saab USA of Norcross, Ga.; and Sun Microsystems Inc.