Space force

Space Force ‘reverse industry day’ to close detection and tracking gaps

WASHINGTON — US Space Force acquisition officials are meeting with companies this week to discuss capabilities that could help the service as it plans to take on a new mission: tracking ground targets with space sensors.

The service, in coordination with the Air Force, has been studying options for future space-based tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities over the past year and plans to complete a year-long review this spring. As part of this work, the service meets with industry to better understand what sensors and data analysis tools are available on the market.

Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein, head of Space Systems Command, told a Center for Strategic and International Studies event in Washington that the service will host a “reverse industry day” on ISR this week. tactic to connect program managers and business leaders. The format is different from a typical industry day, where the government informs companies of its plans for a particular program or mission. Instead, the service invites industry to provide details about the capabilities they are developing.

“We will have the [program executive officers] and PMs in a room and industry can now come and tell us what they can deliver in the area of ​​tactical ISR,” Guetlein said at the May 18 event. “It allows us to learn more about what’s out there that we might not see.”

The National Reconnaissance Office and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency have traditionally taken the lead in intelligence gathering and image processing from space. The growing demand for tactical ISR products coupled with the reduction in satellite production and launch costs has changed this paradigm.

Lt. Gen. Chance Saltzman, the Space Force’s deputy chief of space, cyber and nuclear operations, told reporters May 19 that engagement with industry as well as the wider intelligence community is a key element. key to defining the scope of any future tactical ISR program.

“You’d be stupid if you didn’t ask the industry, ‘Hey, what do you have that could fill in some of these gaps? What do you have that could add those capabilities,” Saltzman said at a Defense Writers Group event. “It is imperative that we collaborate at all levels.”

To further this coordination, Space Force has also established an Integrated Process Team that works with the other military services to better understand the tactical requirements of ISR and provide options to meet them.

Saltzman said the team’s work is ongoing, so he was not informed of any results. There are some capacity gaps, which he is confident will be addressed as the process progresses. The first is to balance the need for data security and classification with transparency.

“There are things that need to be classified, and that’s mainly because it’s perishable information and we want to protect it for as long as possible,” Saltzman said. “It’s not going to go away. But with whom can we share and how can we share with them and what can we bring to them? It will definitely come out as a gap.

Another capability gap is data mining and processing, Saltzman said, noting that the amount of information these sensors can collect can overwhelm operators and the systems in place to manage them.

“Exploring artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation to help manage this flow of data – I would be shocked if tactical ISR did not consider this element,” he said.