Components > Defense Blog

Military satellites increasing in importance, decreasing in size

by Asif Anwar | 10月 12, 2012

The use of space is increasing and becoming an essential component for infrastructure in communications, navigation and timing, agriculture and weather monitoring and disaster relief efforts. The importance of satellites in the military domain is going to continue to increase as nations typically associated with space power look to maintain and update capabilities and other nations look to establish themselves by taking advantage of technology and platform advances.

Military satellites have, for some time, formed the backbone of military communication, reconnaissance and navigation capabilities. This is a fundamental capability area in what is becoming a far more contested and congested area of operation. As military satellite platforms share development with commercial ventures and defense authorities look to alternative platform sizes, the utilization of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components will also increase in prominence. Technology enhancements at the component and system level will also include GaAs-based triple junction solar cells, GaN-based power amplifiers and the use of phased array antennas. The capabilities of Ka-band are also being actively examined for military satellite communications and will form an increasingly staple part of the military satellite communications portfolio over the coming years.

Advances in small satellite technology have elevated the status of small satellites from just being “military relevant” to “laptop in space” platforms that can offer capabilities and advantages over traditional platforms in certain operational environs. We will see more utilization as they complement traditional satellite platforms. From an operational perspective, small satellites will increasingly be used to provide added situational awareness to supplement the close-up view that can be provided with tactical UAVs.

The fiscally constrained environment will result in more cooperation between nations on developing and sharing capabilities although this will have to be balanced with maintaining sovereign capabilities. As well the pooling of resources, we will also see Public Private Partnership (PPP) schemes such as the UK’s Private Finance Initiative (PFI) being used to fund future capabilities in space and increasing use of dual-use strategies.

Clients of the ADS service can read the full report:

Military Satellite Trends and Outlook


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