The US Space Force is collaborating with industry partners to design a new series of weather satellites that can “see” through snow, smoke, sand, heavy clouds, and other weather obscurants, considerably increasing the chances of military success and efficiency.

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems is working on a new spacecraft that will introduce paradigm-shifting technologies that will allow for previously unthinkable targeting and attack missions. The USSF Space Systems Command EWS (Electro-Optical Infrared Weather System) satellite project is being supported by GA-EMS.

In a statement, Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS, said, “The GA-EMS EWS spacecraft is going to now be able to deliver extended operations, direct broadcast of meteorological data to tactical users, and greater reliability to meet mission requirements.  The USSF’s trust in GA-EMS’ design to function as needed and ensuring the USSF can continue to transmit crucial weather information to military men and women around the world is demonstrated by this pivot from just an orbit sensor demonstration mission to now include residual operating capabilities.”

The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) is rapidly reaching its end of life, which is a critical setting.

“As the DMSP nears obsolescence and decommissioning, the GA-EMS EWS spacecraft is going to be ready to fill the gap of EO/IR sensor, while also offering the USSF with the next generation sophisticated weather satellite, sensor, and weather items for national security missions,” a senior official from GA-EMS’ Missile Defense and Space Systems said.

GA-EMS is leading an industry consortium to create the Enterprise Ground Station, which includes EOVista and Parsons Corporation. The program has been expanded from a one-year on-orbit sensor demo to a three-to-five-year prototype spacecraft with “residual operating capability,” according to the USSF.

While technical details about the exact services are unlikely to be revealed due to security concerns or active competition, it appears that this new satellite system is being created to take advantage of a new phase of technologies.

Higher-fidelity, longer-range cameras, and sensors could be among them. Perhaps most importantly, GA-EMS and its collaborators may be experimenting with AI-assisted data analysis. Incoming data is gathered, processed, structured, and then tailored for distribution to decision-makers, a process is known as PED (processing, exploitation, and dissemination). With as low latency as possible, the goal is to find the most important and pressing objects or even developments within large volumes of data.

By making comparisons of the incoming data against a massive database to make forecasts, evaluate new weather indications in relation to previous weather patterns and developments, and make educated, extremely detailed projections for the military decision-makers, a high-speed AI-powered computing system could intuitively massively speed up this process. Given the rate of progress in this field, it appears plausible that this type of data analysis as well as transmission tailored to tactical national security situations, as outlined by GA-EMS developers, will provide the genuinely unique capability.

The elements have thwarted military planners in every age of human history; yet, this may be changing. Industry innovators such as General Atomics are bringing new capabilities online that may forever change what military officers can and should anticipate seeing.

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