Tournear Cites Cyber, Supply Chain Threats to SDA Transport Layer

The director of the Space Development Agency (SDA), Derek Turner, said on April 14 that he considered cyber threats and the supply chain of the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA) transport layer to be more significant than the ground-based direct ascent satellite (DA-ASAT). and laser weapons.

The NDSA will effectively be an optically connected Internet in space to provide tactical data – low latency communications and targeting information – to military forces in the field.

The SDA believes that projected hundreds of satellites at the transport layer level – less than $ 14 million each – will help deter DA-ASAT attacks, while satellites’ 1,000-kilometer polar orbit will help protect them from ground-based energy attacks.

“Cyber ​​and the supply chain are two of the threats I am concerned about,” Tournament told the Washington Space Business Table (WSBR) on April 14. “Cyber ​​and supply chain issues are common mode failures, so it doesn’t matter if I have one satellite or a thousand satellites, these [problems] may have the ability to pull them all out. So these are the threats I’m most focused on, because I think they can have the biggest and most devastating effect, while the other threats, I actually think, are spreading. [of satellites] gives us significant advantages. In fact, I would go so far as to say this [for] Tranche 1 and beyond, downloading a satellite will cost more than the satellite is actually placed there and working, so we’ve completely changed the equation for that. “

Due to anticipated threats to cyber and the supply chain for the transport layer, the SDA is committed to cybersecurity, and Tournear said on April 14 that it supports restricting suppliers of certain parts of the layer, such as flight computers, to local suppliers.

The SDA is focused on providing space targeting out of range of mobile missile systems, ships and modern missiles, including hypersonic ones, in seconds. The backbone of the NDSA, the Transport Layer, is to provide targeting to land and sea targets, while the Tracking Layer – the Next Generation’s Advanced Intelligence Constellation – is to establish effective targeting for modern missiles. In addition, the SDA is working to support future intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) satellites in the custody layer to integrate ISR tracking with the transport layer to develop the best targeting solution.

The SDA is to target 150 small-scale, weight-and-power laser communications satellites in Trench 1 of the Transport Layer by September 2024 and will send additional tranches every two years. Such network satellites should provide rapid targeting of ground and naval targets to military forces under Link 16. Optically linked satellites will also provide positioning, navigation and synchronization to US and Allied forces in a GPS-unavoidable environment.

Last August, the SDA awarded $ 281.5 million in fixed-price fixed contracts Lockheed Martin [LMT] and York Space Systems to build 10 Tranche O satellites per transport layer (Defense Daily, 1 September 2020).

The 20 satellites are scheduled to launch by September next year.

The 10 satellites that each company launches for the network consist of seven Class A and three Class B. A Class A satellite will have at least four optical cross-links to other satellites in the same or different orbit, while Class B Satellite there will be two optical cross-links to ensure constant communication between the other satellites in the transport layer and a Link 16 transmitter for communication with the front forces.

To connect to the transportation layer of the National Defense Space Architecture, the Advanced Battle Management System of the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Space Force must have a GatewayONE, R Wave Translatorsoftware-defined adioONE radio and ApertureONE common slot for communications and radar. The last three methods are to allow the dissemination of data to the military on the ground without connection 16 or other connection with the SDA transport layer.