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2006 Speeches
John Fuller

John Fuller

Vice President

Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems

"Space Perspectives and Lessons Learned in Recent Conflicts"

2006 Defence Space Seminar

Canberra, Australia

March 16, 2006

Thank you. It's a pleasure to join this conference and exchange ideas with so many distinguished military space experts. This is my first visit to Australia, and I'm enjoying it immensely. My goal here is to add value to the illuminating presentations that have characterized this gathering. I'll offer my thoughts on what I consider the value of space systems in the face of emerging requirements.

To understand how space assets can help military forces in a rapidly evolving environment, it's important to keep recent history foremost in mind, to underscore how far satellite capabilities have progressed in a fairly short time. I'll start with a personal anecdote that I hope offers some perspective. In the late 1970s, I was a U.S. Air Force major stationed at the Pentagon. One day my boss, a well-know AF general, summoned me to his office to talk about a new program, Navstar GPS. He said: Fuller, your job is to kill this program--GPS. It's a stupid program. We don't need it. We don't want to waste money on it--it has no warfighter value--and it probably won't work. Needless to say, I failed in that assignment. Today millions of people rely on GPS--military and commercial users, air traffic controllers, and search-and-rescue teams, among others. Now this was a very intelligent man, someone I consider a true visionary, but even someone that distinguished had trouble envisioning the central role that satellites would play in every aspect of daily life.

As recently as 25 years ago--and that's halfway through the Space Age era--few people thought space assets would play a direct role in ground military operations. The World Wide Web, taken for granted by millions of people in 2006, didn't even exist in the 1980s. But just a few years later, in the early 1990s, space systems in Operation Desert Storm helped coalition forces navigate, communicate, and gather intelligence. Today, the idea of space-based assets anchoring a powerful network that can collect, analyze, share, and act on information in real time, is universally accepted and moving forward.

Space enables everything we do: detect and assess threats; command and control forces; gather and disseminate intelligence; target weapons; navigate air, ground and sea assets. Moreover, space is an enormous force multiplier; it enhances air/land/sea operations, it enables precision strike, and--most important--it provides information superiority. This is the concept of network-centric operations, which enables existing and new platforms to interoperate and perform in a global network.

I view Industry's job is to promote this network concept by developing ways to help the U.S. and its allies give coalition forces unprecedented speed and precision in the face of diverse, unpredictable, mobile, and evolving security threats.

Although this conference focuses on the military implications of space systems, I think it's useful to bear in mind their stunning economic impact as well. In 40 years, the satellite industry has developed and deployed efficient and transparent satellite communications technology.

It has created and expanded commercial markets for business, personal and civil applications. Transmitting voice, facsimile, television, radio and data across continents, instantaneously, has become the norm. Consumers use satellites when they swipe a credit card at a gas station, withdraw cash at a bank, and watch TV.

In 1963 there was one geosynchronous communications satellite. Now there are well over 200. Now those revenues total around $3 billion. In 1965 a few million people watched television broadcast by satellite. Now, about four billion do.

In 1965, satellites had the capacity to transmit a few hundred simultaneous phone calls. Satellites today transmit up to 500 million simultaneous phone calls.

Looking at recent trends, more than 200 commercial communications satellites valued at 25 billion U.S. dollars will be deployed in GEO or MEO orbits over the next 10 years. The accuracy of five-day weather forecasts has almost doubled over the last 15 years, thanks largely to satellite systems, and it will get even better when the next-generation of weather monitoring systems is deployed.

Recently, the U.S. military has fulfilled up to 80 percent of its worldwide communications needs with commercial satellite communications services.

Looking to the future, we see continued growth in military space systems, homeland security and other government services, direct-to-user systems and broadband, direct video and audio broadcasting, Internet trunking, high-definition television, and mobile cell phone services. Airline high-speed Internet broadband providers are steadily adding new customers. Satellite radio is another high-growth area.

For example, the major U.S. satellite radio companies, XM and Sirius, totaled more than 4 million subscribers by the end of 2004. And in the 40 billion dollar satellite-to-consumer television market, DIRECTV and EchoStar delivered double-digit revenue and subscriber growth last year, and they continue to grow.

In consumer electronics, rapid advances in mobile computing, wireless connectivity and information downloading occur almost daily.

The new generation of consumer electronics is changing how information is created and distributed, and bringing increasingly sophisticated data and visual services to smaller, lighter equipment. People use portable computers, TVs and cell phones interchangeably for work, personal business, and entertainment, wherever they go.

In this fast-changing environment, satellite system providers can't just stand still, either from a business or technology standpoint. In the military and intelligence realm, the network I referred to isn't complete; legacy and new transformational space systems are not horizontally integrated. Military and intelligence space customers are not monolithic but have differing needs and priorities, leaving assets in space, in the air, at sea and on the ground largely stovepiped and certainly not integrated from a systems of systems perspective.

In recognition of this, the U.S. government is moving forward on several very important next-generation military space systems. The Pentagon is increasingly focusing on capabilities-driven solutions and systems that are interoperable and integrated across all branches of service.

The Transformational Communications Architecture is driving many emerging technologies, such as digital payloads, phased array antennas, bandwidth efficient modulation, and laser communications.

Transformational military force structures required to meet evolving threats demand lighter forces that are more mobile, and these mobile forces require network connectivity to perform their missions. Network connectivity and a modernized communications infrastructure are key to improving capacity and information exchanges among deployed warfighters.

Former U.S. defense official Peter Teets once said, "In the battlespace of tomorrow, victory may be won or lost in mere seconds--the seconds it takes to identify and strike a moving target, or the seconds it takes to make a critical decision." This illustrates the necessity of a network including space assets that operates seamlessly in real time. Our military customers have come to expect mature, rigorously tested technology that will ensure mission success in this networked environment.

In obtaining this technology, one of the benefits that military customers have is the ability to draw on the synergy that industry has developed between commercial and government space systems. Let me give a few examples of this government/commercial synergy within Boeing. For example, we migrated fixed and broadcast satellite systems used on the military UHF satellite series to such commercial systems as Anik and DIRECTV.

At the same time, we have leveraged wideband and fixed user technology on the commercial Spaceway series to the Wideband Gapfiller satellite system, which is a highly complex, high-capability communications system that will give commanders and troops tremendous capacity. Wideband Gapfiller System is the most complicated phased-array program ever done in space and will put more transponders in one antenna than has ever been done before. Just one Wideband Gapfiller satellite will provide more communications capacity than the entire nine-satellite defense communications constellation it is replacing.

Mobile phone capabilities we developed for the commercial Thuraya turnkey system, which reaches an area populated by more than two billion people, will help warfighters and commanders using the military MUOS system (Multi-User Objective System).

Another major military communications system that Boeing is heavily involved in is the Transformational Satellite Communications System. No other space asset being developed even comes close to meeting future bandwidth availability requirements. For example, TSAT can process a reconnaissance photo in less than a second, and instantly transmit it. TSAT will provide survivable and protected high-capacity, Internet-like connectivity. In network centric warfare, speed plus bandwidth availability translates to survival for deployed forces.

And what's the best way to provide these capabilities? With an integrated mix of dedicated, advanced U.S. government systems, supported by complementary commercial services.

Events like Hurricane Katrina generate a massive amount of traffic on cellular and landline systems that quickly become overwhelmed, but the satellite infrastructure continued to function. Commercial satellite communications and associated ground systems provided 45 percent of communications between the theater and the continental U.S. in Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, commercial satellites have provided 80 percent of communications, almost double the Desert Storm figure, and Iraqi Freedom forces had 40 times the bandwidth capability of Desert Storm just a dozen years earlier.

Our strategy of leveraging our investments across government and commercial programs takes advantage of economies of scale and common production lines.

Boeing has leveraged a wealth of experience and capability for the Wideband Gapfiller Satellite system, which is in production, including extensive investments in the digital signal processors, phased array antennas, and the Boeing 702 satellite bus.

Together, these capabilities enable the tremendous capacity and operational flexibility required by the U.S. and its allies.

We help military forces increase their capabilities by tapping existing mature commercial satellite technologies, programs, and practices. With low initial investment, government customers gain low-cost systems services and speedy implementation. We reconfigured such commercial satellite technologies as small spot beams, encryption technology, onboard routing, crosslinks, and steerable antennas, to serve military applications.

The Global Positioning System, which I was supposed to kill at one point in my career, is a fitting example of Boeing's commercial/government synergy, because no other existing space asset is more vital to both deployed forces and civilians. GPS was created by the DoD to enhance military warfighting capability; and now it's free of charge to anyone with a GPS receiver. The GPS fleet supports land, sea, and airborne navigation, and lets users instantaneously determine their position and velocity anywhere in the world.

GPS also supports surveying, mapping, vehicle location, aerial refueling and rendezvous, search-and-rescue operations, law enforcement, and military missions. Boeing's GPS heritage dates to 1974 and includes 40 satellites, with as many as 12 Block IIF model satellites on the way beginning in 2008.

These military needs are why Boeing is investing in satellites that can be reconfigured, both in terms of bandwidth and antenna patterns, and reused without the risks associated with launch. It's why Boeing offers a broad range of advanced, flight-proven analog and digital spacecraft.

The next-generation systems now in development will take that one step further in a measured and phased approach. Internet Protocol or packet-based switching will offer full-mesh connectivity and communications-on-the-move to all users. They will connect anyone to everyone. The right packet of data will be sent from the right satellite on the right antenna, to the intended user on the ground.

This will enable larger throughput for faster dissemination and ever better service to deployed military forces.

Electronically steered antennas can change coverage areas, enabling new missions. Flexible digital payload architecture allows more efficient production, shorter schedules, and on-orbit flexibility. Government needs that direct broadcasting technology has met include imagery, video, and broadband data for intelligence, surveillance, and weather forecasting, medical, and other uses.

Government requirements are frequently situation-dependent, so being able to accommodate changing requirement is increasingly important for those customers.

All these examples show that space assets are firmly entrenched as vital elements of secure communications, surveillance, early warning, navigation, and precision engagement. Recent conflicts have both validated the value of these assets, and underscored the challenges still needing to be met.

We at Boeing, the rest of industry and our international partners around the world, must dedicate ourselves to working with our military customers to meet those challenges. Nothing less than international security and warfighter lives are at stake.

Thank you very much.