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Pentagon solicits proposals for new hypersonic advanced warning system

The US Department of Defense (DoD) is soliciting industry proposals for the development and fielding of a new network of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, designed specifically to detect, track, and provide advanced warning against hypersonic weapons launched against US armed forces or allied targets.

The request for proposals (RFP) issued by the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency (SDA) to industry on 15 June is seeking programme proposals in support of the early warning LEO satellite network for advanced missile threats, known in agency parlance as the Tracking Layer. The Tracking Layer is only one element of the SDA’s multi-layer National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA) strategy to detect, identify, and deter potential terrestrial and space-based threats.

Those additional layers include the Battle Management Layer, which is designed to provide “architecture tasking”, mission command and control, and data dissemination to support “time-sensitive kill chain closures at campaign scales”, according to SDA documents. Agency officials envision the Navigation Layer to provide US armed forces alternative position, navigation, and timing (A-PNT) capabilities in GPS-denied environments, the documents stated.

The Deterrence Layer will foster platforms and technologies to “deter hostile action in deep space” beyond geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO), while space-based programmes developed under the Support Layer will “enable ground and launch segments” to provide overarching support to the SNA’s responsive space architecture, the documents said. The Transport Layer, as envisioned under the SDA strategy will provide space-based “assured, resilient, low-latency military data and connectivity” to US armed forces across the globe, SDA officials said in the documents. Finally, the Custody Layer will leverage LEO satellite networks to provide comprehensive “all-weather custody of time sensitive, left-of-launch” surface mobile targets, such as missile launchers, the documents added.

An informational graphic by the US Department of Defense’s Space Development Agency, detailing the multi-layer National Space Defense Architecture. (Department of Defense )

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