As the US military shifts its focus to the Asia-Pacific region, one of the issues that has drawn the attention of officials with Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems and Global Solutions business area is the threat posed by emerging anti-access, area-denial capabilities to the long-range communications systems that are so crucial to US combat operations. “We’re looking a lot at A2AD, and how do you go into a non-permissive environment and be able to have command and control,” said Robert Smith, company vice president for C4ISR systems, at a company briefing in Arlington, Va., on Aug. 13. Much of the global or theater-wide flow of US communications and intelligence data depends on satellites, and China has demonstrated anti-satellite capabilities using rockets for ‘hard kill’ and electronic jamming for “soft kill.” Smith said Lockheed Martin is exploring a number of possible ways to overcome the loss of satellite access. Although he declined to specify due to security and proprietary reasons, he suggested the possibility of using aerostats, sophisticated tethered balloons, equipped with communications-relay systems and perched at several thousand feet in altitude to serve as substitute satellites. “[The Defense Department] is looking at that and we’re supporting DOD,” said Smith.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.