Back

How Can DOD Accelerate Space Technologies for JADC2?

Modeling the Mission

Our support includes technical work to help establish the big picture. “We help with a lot of modeling and simulation activities for mission forecasting and planning,” says Ron Bitten, who leads Booz Allen teams innovating with clients such as the Space Force and U.S. Space Command. 

Being able to test varied scenarios helps speed the process and ensure that technology is aligned with mission needs, whether for an operator at a forward location or a senior leader who needs to make a decision at the speed of operational relevance. It also helps in implementing cybersecurity for space—once considered a pristine environment, but now a contested domain.

“Data Is Going to Reign”: The Need for Open Data Platforms

“There's an extremely good chance that any future conflict is going to be much more steeped in nonkinetic activities than it is in a shooting war. Therefore, data is going to reign,” Ron says. “Whoever has a resilient way to control that data, maintain that data, integrate that data, and apply that data—they’ll be on the victorious side of any conflict. And the ability to move and manage that data is going to be heavily dependent on space.” 

Many of the foundational capabilities needed begin with the data itself. Our technologists move initiatives ahead to help achieve information superiority, such as:

A strategic way to ensure connectivity and agility is to build the network on open data platforms, which allow for modular changes as mission needs evolve. Concepts can then be rapidly built, tested, refined, and scaled for operational use. Open data platforms also allow for more solutions providers to bring capabilities as technology evolves.

Learn more about open data platforms that transform data to action – Read now.

Agile Satellite Fleets for the JADC2 Network

One transformational change is the planned use of low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites for the satellite network that will integrate JADC2 communications. “There are multiple positive effects to using small satellites. One, we can build and launch them faster and cheaper. And with a fleet, you can build in redundancy. If one satellite is rendered inoperable, another can likely pick up its mission, adding improved resiliency,” says Ron.

He emphasized the revolutionary benefits of faster development. “In your traditional days of building satellites, it took 5 to 10 years on the low end to build a system and get it on orbit. In today’s environment, the threat—especially the cyber threat—is evolving so fast that by the time you launch it, it’s already vulnerable.” 

Digital engineering allows the military to develop, test, and manage technologies with seamless data integration. Ron notes that adding flexibility to acquisition processes would accelerate innovation, as requirements could be changed to address new threats as a program is developed. 

Connecting Space Data Across Domains

In addition to building and implementing the network itself, new satellites will need to connect with ground stations and devices as well as the command and control networks the services are building to connect with JADC2—the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), the Army’s Project Convergence, and the Navy’s Project Overmatch. 

Open data platforms running on truly open frameworks provide a flexible solution for connectivity. Government-owned application programming interfaces (API) allow the Department of Defense (DOD) to plug in any technology to test it rather than integrating it into a proprietary interface, reducing a process that could take weeks or months to mere seconds.

See principles for building secure, adaptable space systems – Read now.

Modernizing Legacy Satellite Systems

Relying on LEO satellite fleets is the path for the new network that will serve as the JADC2 satellite backbone, but modifying systems already on orbit is essential for the networks that will connect to that network.

“We’re moving to an era where a software-defined radio approach will essentially turn satellites into ‘smart satellites’ and will enable timely updates to onboard cyber defenses to address new threats and other near-real-time configuration updates on orbit,” Ron notes. As part of our digital engineering initiatives, Booz Allen is helping DOD innovate with technologies such as digital twins, which allows the military to find and mitigate vulnerabilities in existing systems as well as test new ones in development. 

We also invest in research and development such as our 5G labs, helping clients customize strategies for their mission while mitigating cybersecurity risk. 

 

AI Across the Mission

Although delivering data is essential for JADC2, analysis is just as important. “Data is only effective if you can apply knowledge to it. The human brain just doesn't have the capacity to go through the plethora of data we collect and decide quickly enough to respond to an imminent threat,” Ron says. 

Our technologists work to advance AI in a range of areas. Some projects are breakthroughs in human-machine teaming: We developed an algorithm for the U.S. Air Force to test as the U.S. military’s first AI copilot. Others are defensive, for example, leading research in adversarial AI to prevent an attacker from tricking our algorithms. We also help defense organizations scale AI throughout the enterprise through AI operations (AIOps).

Insights at the Edge

One of our most powerful AI capabilities is deployment of AI at the tactical edge to support low size, weight, and power scenarios. We integrate models into existing hardware and equip edge nodes to send pared-down outputs so a more robust computing environment can improve the models and upload them to cloud-based networks for broader situational awareness in addition to relaying information back to the warfighter.

We also use AI to transform space missions: tracking objects in space, working with DOD to improve command and control, analyzing satellite data faster using computer vision, and advancing AI for more complex tasks such as predictive analytics.

Speed, Cybersecurity, and Resiliency: DevSecOps for Integrated Development

Security is DOD’s #1 priority. Yet with threats continually evolving, how can cyber protection be kept up-to-date? We secure clients’ systems by combining industry-leading cybersecurity innovation and automated processes into our open-source DevSecOps software development practices.

As a leader in secure cloud development for defense and intelligence organizations, we offer approaches and tools that help clients modernize faster. And with features like advanced release strategies and automated compliance, we accelerate improvements to ensure systems can remain operational even after an attack. 

Resiliency is especially important for satellites. “A lot of the data we’re most interested in is found in denied territory,” Ron says. “Ensuring satellites can collect that data and that the military can download it is most important in areas where the stakes are the highest.”

Explore Platform One, the federal government’s first DevSecOps enterprise-level service – See features.

A Mission-Centric Partner for JADC2

Ron emphasizes that mission understanding needs to drive every solution—teams need a mindset not to develop “another widget,” but rather to deliver on JADC2 goals in support of Combatant Commander objectives. Our decades of partnership with DOD and focus on hiring veterans allow us to couple strategy with technology. He notes, “We’re helping in areas critically important for evolving the space capabilities and making them more joint—and therefore more operationally relevant.”

Sign Up for Space Insights