By John Keller
SAN DIEGO, 11 March 2008. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Transformational Communications Satellite system (TSAT) should survive at close to what has been envisioned to date, despite industry speculation that the future DOD "Internet in the sky" could be in financial trouble, a top DOD executive reported today.
Dr. Ron Jost, the DOD's deputy assistant secretary of defense for C3, said the TSAT program may undergo some changes, but no major redesign, in a keynote address to the Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum (MAEF) conference and trade show in San Diego. The MAEF is sponsored by Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine.
"We will be evaluating if this [the TSAT system] is the right way forward," Jost told MAEF attendees. "It could change slightly, but I don't think we will redesign something that has taken hundreds of thousands of hours to design. We might trade some capabilities away, but that is for the 2010 (DOD) budget."
The TSAT program envisions a constellation of military communications satellites that use laser beams to exchange and forward data, which is intended to speed Internet-like military communications around the globe. No other system is capable of doing what TSAT will be able to do, Jost said.
Jost is in charge of command, control, and communications in the DOD's Office of the Assistant Defense Secretary for Networks and Information Integration.
Jost explained that DOD leaders over the past year have taken a new approach to bringing new weapons and capabilities to the warfighter, which should help them balance schedules, performance, and costs in several separate program "portfolios."
Each portfolio also takes into consideration the Pentagon's capability, resource, and acquisition needs, which will help leaders translate needs into capabilities that will help fighting forces enhance up-tempo operations, lethality, and survivability, Jost told MAEF attendees.
"Now we have a means of managing and putting all our programs in perspective," Jost said.