WASHINGTON: The Air Force’s space command and control system, the Joint Mission System, faces “critical deficiencies” and needs beefier cyber defenses, according to the Pentagon’s annual Operational Test and Evaluation report.
“That OT&E report on JMS Increment 2 is not really surprising, and it’s not good,” Brian Weeden, a national security space expert with the Secure World Foundation, writes in an email. “Nearly a decade after it started, JMS is still struggling to deliver what it was supposed to do.”
Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center is the lead contractor on this program, with Analytical Graphics of Exton, Penn., Artificial Intelligence Solutions of Lanham, Md. and Omitron of Beltsville, Md. serving as its subcontractors.
Add in a possible delay due to slower than expected testing for Increment 2 of JMS, and this could raise questions about the delivery of what some are calling JMS Increment 3, which is slated to be the system used by the National Space Defense Center (NSDC), the new and highly classified interagency space command center. That would, of course, affect the NRO and other intelligence agencies and put a crimp in what has seemed to be a pretty smooth rollout of the new space warfighting command and control center formerly known as JICSPOC.
JMS is not the only system affected by these delays, Robert Behler, director of OTE, writes. A key issue could be that, “while some interoperability testing has occurred, delays in the JMS Increment 2 delivery increase the risk of late discovery of integration deficiencies between JMS and Space Fence Increment 1.” Space Fence is a new ground radar system Lockheed Martin is building on Kwajalein Atoll that will allow the US find and track orbital debris the size of a marble and up.
“Critical deficiencies” may change “change the scope and timing” of some of the Increment 2 operational testing. “DOT&E expects operational testing for SP9 to begin no earlier than February 2018,” Behler writes. Those delays “increase the risk of late discovery of integration deficiencies between JMS and Space Fence Increment 1.”
So what does DOTE think the Air Force should do? First, they need to “develop an acquisition strategy” for what we’re calling Increment 3, and the official National Space Defense Center program.
Finally, the service needs to make sure operators can “detect cyber attacks and mitigate their operational impacts” and test it all. Oh, and make sure JMS and Space Fence can work together.