Winston Beauchamp, U.S. Air Force deputy undersecretary for space. Credit: SpaceNews video grab

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force’s traditional approach to replacing space systems just doesn’t cut it anymore, says Winston Beauchamp, the Air Force deputy undersecretary for space.

“The way we have acquired space systems for the past several decades was on the basis of something called ‘functional availability,’ which is a metric designed to estimate how long a space system will last so we can plan to inject its replacement right at the point of failure,” Beauchamp said. “That is an approach that might make sense in a benign environment but as you just laid out, that’s not the environment we find outselves in anymore.”

Beauchamp, speaking Dec. 15 at a Washington Space Business Roundtable panel discussion on the U.S. Defense Department’s pivot to commercial satellite communications, said the Pentagon is “moving away from ‘functional availability’ as an approach” for replacing space systems “to one where we account for the threat.

“To do that requires a different metric of success. So we are using something we are calling a ‘resiliency capacity,’ which includes a mission assurance component to it,” he said.

Beauchamp said resiliency can be achieved, in part, by relying on a”diversity” of government and commercial systems.

“There is a real convergence on the technology side. The key is to be able to get convergence on the policy side so we can operate more seemlelssy between military and commercial systems and provide a very complicated target scenario to any potential adversaries,” Beauchamp said. “What we’d like to do is complicate their picture and make it as difficult as possible.”


To hear more from Beauchamp on the paradigm shift underway among Air Force space planners, watch the short video above, which was produced with support from Intelsat General Corp.

To see more videos from the Dec. 15 WSBR panel discussion, click on the link below:

♦DoD’s Pivot to Commercial Satcom: Reality or Wishful Thinking?