SDA Launch To Shape JADC2 Communications

Credit: SDA

COLORADO SPRINGS—The Space Development Agency’s (SDA) upcoming Tranche 0 Transport Layer will be the military’s communications backbone, and the agency is planning a series of exercises with each service’s Joint All Domain Command and Control efforts, including the U.S. Navy’s highly secretive Project Overmatch.

The first Tranche 0 launch is 25 weeks away, SDA Director Derek Tournear says, and there are critical design reviews and tests underway to ensure the program is ready. These include an ongoing assembly integration test, with follow-on environmental tests scheduled for August. The program will also undergo licensing approval this summer before launch. 

There are still risks this late in the process, with SDA continuing to face supply chain issues, Tournear says. 

Tranche 0 will be made up of 28 satellites that will provide global networking for U.S. and allied forces, starting with the Link 16 datalink. This will be the “backbone” for all JADC2 programs in the U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy. 

Tranche 0 is SDA’s “warfighter immersion tranche, where we’ll be participating in exercises and that’s when we’ll be actually plugging them in to demonstrate that we can do it,” Tournear says. 

Specifically, this will include transporting data for the U.S. Navy through its Maritime Targeting Cell-Ashore and Maritime Targeting Cell-Expeditionary, using Ka-band or optical links as part of Project Overmatch. There will also be demonstrations with the Army’s Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node ground station under the service’s Project Convergence, and SDA is working with the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office on the service’s Advanced Battle Management System, including the service-developed RadioONE and ApertureONE nodes.

The demonstrations will focus on getting the data in a “packetized manner, so that we can then route it across our network. Once we get that, then essentially all three of the JADC2 networks are linked together and it should be transparent,” Tournear says.

Brian Everstine

Brian Everstine is the Pentagon Editor for Aviation Week, based in Washington, D.C. Before joining Aviation Week in August 2021, he covered the Pentagon for Air Force Magazine. Brian began covering defense aviation in 2011 as a reporter for Military Times.