Lockheed Funds Satellites To Demo Joint All-Domain Operations

Credit: Lockheed Martin

COLORADO SPRINGS—Lockheed Martin plans to launch two self-funded satellites by 2023 that could be used in military exercises that year to demonstrate parts of the military’s vision for joint all-domain operations.

One, Pony Express II, is a cube satellite that would have a passive radio frequency sensor. It could be launched this year to test mesh networking in space with distributed processing. 

The other is a Tactical Infrared 5G.mil Communication small satellite that would launch in 2023 and demonstrate processing and communications capabilities, Paul Koether, director of Joint All Domain Operations at Lockheed, told reporters during an April 4 tour of its campus in Waterton, Colorado.

The company’s intent is to try to use a satellite as part of Indo Pacific Command’s Northern Edge exercise or the U.S. Army’s Project Convergence in the same way uncrewed air vehicles have been used to demonstrate capabilities in the past.

At an exercise like Northern Edge, Lockheed would want its satellites to help make sense of the environment and provide incoming information to a decision-maker that could task a fire control system to act on a target, Koether said.

Such a demonstration could show the Space Development Agency ways its communication network—which relies on the military’s Link 16 datalink as its backbone—could improve on its probability of intercept or probability of detection with other waveforms.

“I think our customers are changing from a ‘Show me a concept or PowerPoint,’ to ‘Show me something that has a little bit higher technology readiness level or proves out the concept,’” Koether said. “And if we can help them understand or prove out some of those concepts, I think we’ll have a leading edge to go provide that as a full-up capability.”

As part of its Joint All-Domain Operations efforts, Lockheed also is talking to commercial space companies to leverage their data on Earth observation or signals intelligence with Lockheed’s ability to process the data and task outcomes from it.

Jen DiMascio

Based in Washington, Jen previously managed Aviation Week’s worldwide defense, space and security coverage.