Winds of Change: Environmental Monitoring for an Era of Peer Competition

Arlington, VA | November 20, 2023 — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce a new entry in its Policy Paper series, Winds of Change: Environmental Monitoring for an Era of Peer Competition by Lt Col (Ret.) Tim Ryan, Senior Resident Fellow for Space Studies at the Mitchell Institute’s Spacepower Advantage Center of Excellence (MI-SPACE).

Weather has always played an important role in military operations and will prove even more vital in an era where Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control (CJADC2) transforms how missions are executed. Coordinating a highly networked force to facilitate real-time, dynamic, collaborative engagements demands robust environmental intelligence. Currently, the military environmental monitoring mission predominantly relies on a small number of satellites well past their design lives–the remains of the 60-year-old Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). A brittle and aging DMSP architecture increases the odds of campaign failure.

The current SBEM strategy to replace DMSP must be accelerated. This includes fielding the Electro-Optical/Infrared Weather Systems (EWS) and Weather Satellite Follow-on Microwave (WSF-M). It also involves establishing a defined SBEM program of record as soon as possible to define the long-term vector necessary to sustain this mission. This includes defining the number of satellites needed to deliver the quality and quantity of weather data required for modern operations against a peer competitor. This paper explores how architecture requirements must grow to meet future mission needs.

The Mitchell Institute Policy Papers is a series presenting new thinking and policy proposals to respond to the emerging security and aerospace power challenges of the 21st century. These papers are written for lawmakers and their staffs, policy professionals, business and industry, academics, journalists, and the informed public.

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