Video Above: A Conversation with Peter Huessy, Senior Warrior Maven Nuclear Weapons Analyst
When it comes to the possible use of nuclear weapons or a pressing, highly-dangerous need to defend against incoming nuclear weapons and respond to an attack, it is tough to envision anything more significant than the need for robust communications networks able to securely transmit vital information accurately and quickly.
Nuclear Command, Control and Communications
This somewhat self-evident reality is likely a part of the reason why the Air Force is massively upgrading its Nuclear Command, Control and Communications systems to implement paradigm-changing new technologies.
The breakthrough system, which represents the largest upgrade to nuclear command and control in 30 years, is called the Global Aircrew Strategic Network Terminal. An Air Force report describes it as an “innovative NC3 system that provides assured, survivable, fixed and transportable communications to wing command posts, munitions support squadrons and mobile support teams.”
The service report goes on to say that the new system provides built-in redundancy to ensure delivery of information in the event that a channel is compromised, disabled or attacked and incorporates a reliable “two-way” communications path to ensure sustained connectivity from otherwise disparate or disconnected areas.
Senior Master Sgt. Katrina Strother, 2nd Bomb Wing Command Post senior enlisted leader explains it as something which “... virtually provides commanders a standardized ‘command post in a box,’ replacing a single use system with a multi-use communication package that can talk on a multitude of networks and provides a modular design for future upgrades as opposed to costly replacements.”
The Global ASNT is also hardened to the point where it can withstand Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosives; and High-altitude Electromagnetic Pulse environments, the service report explained.
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This kind of a technology would seem quite significant in a modern threat environment wherein adversaries are in possession of anti-satellite weapons to destroy satellites delivering GPS connectivity and electronic warfare jamming applications designed to “blind” a force or render it unable to communicate.
Video Above: Peter Huessy and Kris Osborn discuss the nuclear threat, modernization, deterrence, Putin and more
In the event of some kind of nuclear attack, commanders, decision makers and the President himself, simply will not have much time with which to counterattack, defend or fashion some kind of response. Therefore, should communication be compromised, a nuclear-armed stealth bomber, ballistic missile submarine or ground-based ICBM silo would most likely to paralyzed and unable to act.
This could of course leave the US much more vulnerable. The faster and more securely information reaches decision-makers, the wider the realm of possibilities in terms of deterrence or even intercepting an incoming enemy ICBM in space during its mid-course phase of flight.
The specific technologies with which the Global ASNT achieves its security and connectivity are likely not available for security reasons, the ability to safeguard highly sensitive data amid a fast-unfolding war scenario is naturally of vital importance. The new technology is now being refined and implemented, yet it is not yet fully clear as to when it might become operational.
Certainly the hope or goal of the system is likely geared toward enabling multi-domain information sharing wherein an air platform could be able to exchange surveillance and targeting data with submarines, other aircraft and ground-based command and control nodes. The earlier a nuclear attack can be detected, the better the possibility of being intercepted, a scenario which translates into the reality that fewer lives may be lost.
Kris Osborn is the President of Warrior Maven - Center for Military Modernization and the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.