Home >> April 2012 Edition >> COMMAND CENTER: Dave Madden
Director, MILSATCOM Systems, Space + Missile Systems Center, Air Force Space Command

maddenhead Mr. Madden entered the Air Force in 1980 after graduating from Virginia Military Institute. He has gained vast experience in systems engineering, technical intelligence, command and control and space systems requirements, development, fielding and operations. In addition, he has commanded a Space Operations Squadron, a Material Acquisition Group, and most recently, the Global Positioning Systems Wing. He retired from active duty in the rank of colonel and entered civil service in 2010.

MilsatMagazine (MSM)
Given your U.S. Air Force career, and your civilian career, would you please tell our audience how you came to be interested in satellite communications? How did that transition into the military segment of this crucial technology?

Dave Madden
I actually became interested in satellite communications while I was at Virginia Military Institute (VMI) obtaining my degree in electrical engineering. I received many opportunities while I was on active duty in the U.S. Air Force to work in acquisition, requirements, and in operations associated with satellite communication systems and hosted payloads. The toughest challenge associated with the transition from GPS to MILSATCOM was in getting acquainted, and in some cases, reacquainted with, key stakeholders and developers in the community. The good news is this is a great community (user, government, and contractor) and they have gone to great lengths to welcome my return into the community.

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With the need for superbly trained technicians and communications professionals in both the commercial and military/government worlds to support critical projects, and the realization that finding such candidates is becoming more challenging, how can military/government organizations help to promote and support STEM learning? What methods would you recommend to both entice and encourage high school and college students to delve into SATCOM careers?

Dave Madden
MILSATCOM’s involvement in satellite communications is developing state-of-the-art technology key to the ability to enable secure and highly reliable global military communications. Communication roles are ever increasing with today’s vast need for information at locations spanning the entire globe. MILSATCOM saves lives and enables both military combat operations as well as humanitarian operations. When one combines the need to operate in the harsh environment of space with the technology advances being made every day in the communication environment, added to the demanding needs of the warfighter, this is one of the most exciting areas for opportunities for learning, contributing, and belonging to an elite group of individuals.

In addition, one gets the opportunity to work with and support local and national organizations such as Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association (AFCEA), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) to promote education and learning within the space and engineering careers. This exciting work provides for challenges and opportunities to students excited about the opportunities that are available to them and the resounding impact they can have.

As the Director of MILSATCOM at the Space and Missile Systems at Los Angeles Air Force Base, and with a $40 billion overall systems portfolio, could you tell us of your duties? How are you able to juggle all of the various programs under your purview?

Dave Madden
As the Director of MILSATCOM, I am responsible for seven divisions and one branch, all of which are focused on developing, acquiring, deploying and sustaining space-enabled, global communications capabilities to support peacetime, contingency, homeland defense, humanitarian assistance, and wartime operations. Our portfolio is wide-ranging and diverse. Our assets include protected SATCOM products that provide the Department of Defense (DoD) with survivable, global, secure, jam-resistant communications for high-priority ground, sea and air assets. This division executes the AEHF program, and provides operations and sustainment support to the on-orbit Milstar constellation. The EPS is a hosted payload that is the polar adjunct to the AEHF system.

maddenfig2 Our Wideband SATCOM programs provide worldwide, high volume, voice and data communications. The MILSATCOM Command and Control branch directs the CCS-C program and is responsible for satellite command and control system development for all MILSATCOM systems. The GBS is a hosted payload that augments the wideband family of services. In addition, the program office acquires a family of receive suites (man-portable and in-garrison) that are fully rugged and designed for rapid deployment worldwide.

Our Terminal Program Office develops, acquires and operationally deploys communication terminals synchronized to support satellite weapon system operations and provides support for 16,000 aircraft, transportable and fixed site terminals.

We are also working toward the nation’s future SATCOM needs. The Advanced Concepts Division is responsible for defining next generation SATCOM capabilities to meet warfighting needs for the Joint Space Communications Layer. The division is developing options to evolve the AEHF and WGS systems through capability insertion programs, as well as leveraging innovative commercial SATCOM opportunities to augment and expand military systems.

We have many priorities each day—a few deal with laying out the future for our current programs of record. The first happens to be on the Air Force’s top five acquisitions for this year, the procurement of AEHF-5/6 focused on lowering system costs while maintaining high system mission assurance.

The second is our WGS program, where demand continues to increase. We’ve laid out a few upgrades that increase the satellites capabilities with minimal investments and the program keeps expanding, with the recent addition of a Five-Nation International Partnership on WGS–9 and the addition of WGS-10.

There are a few others that we’re working on as well, such as the follow-on to our current Command and Control System —Consolidated (CCS-C) and the Control and Planning Segment (CAPS) for our polar system, EPS. A significant portion of work is also on the sustainment of the current constellations and capabilities. We find that our satellites are lasting longer than expected and the warfighter is really pleased about this news. However, the significant ground infrastructure involved on the terminals and command and control systems adds challenges as we deal with aging equipment on the ground and sustaining their operations.

maddenfig3 In order to maintain the program offices focus on these activities, I find myself primarily dealing with the externals (SMC, AFSPC, HAF, and OSD) to keep the Divisions and programs of records focused on mission execution with my guidance. To accomplish all of this relies on experienced leadership in my Divisions—establishing their responsibilities and giving them the guidance to execute and trust in their abilities to get it done.

As of this writing, just this past week, the Department of Defense revealed to the public the massive number of cuts to our Nation’s military, especially to the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. land-based forces. Prominently stated was that the offset for the lack of boots on the ground would be the finest technologies and equipment available to support the remaining forces. First, how will the budget cuts affect SMC and your command?

Dave Madden
SMC has taken the initiative to sustain critical capabilities by identifying and deriving efficiencies in the acquisition of programs of record such as AEHF and WGS. In addition, Air Force Space Command has formulated an investment plan based on national policy/strategy and two years of study and risk reduction efforts with traditional/non-traditional MILSATCOM contractors, the user community, DoD stakeholders, and FFRDC partners. The investment plan recommends targeted investments to enable a transition towards a more capable, resilient, and affordable MILSATCOM enterprise.

A key element of the investment plan is to focus on improving the affordability of protected communications for tactical forces across Services in a contested operational environment. The dissemination of such technology and capabilities to a larger base of tactical forces will be even more critical as changes occur in priorities and force structure.

Secondly, with MILSATCOM an advanced technology, and the statements from Defense Secretary Panetta, will this result in new funding and programs for your division to develop new and better communications and ISR capabilities?

maddenfig4 Dave Madden
Air Force Space Command and the MILSATCOM Systems Directorate are currently supporting efforts within the Air Force and DoD to assess parts of the ISR architecture and options for addressing future communications needs.

How does your MILSATCOM organization work with Space Command? What is the project flow from inception to development to deployment?

Dave Madden
Space Command is the “requirer” and SMC is the “acquirer”. In this capacity, Space Command leads the activities associated with capturing and documenting the warfighters’ requirements, getting those requirements approved through the Joint Capabilities Integration Development System, and ensuring that necessary resources (money and personnel) are available to acquire, operate and maintain the systems.

SMC is responsible for translating those warfighter requirements into acquisition documents, conducting the competitions to select system developers, awarding and executing the contracts, and fielding and sustaining the new systems and capabilities. This connectivity is not only a giver-receiver relationship but also a collaborative one between what the warfighter needs and the fielding of the necessary assets to meet these needs. Therefore, SMC and Space Command maintain a robust dialog between the "requirers" and the "acquirers" throughout this process. In the Directorate, we interface directly with Colonel Mike Lakos, who leads the MILSATCOM Capabilities Team at Air Force Space Command—our staffs collaborate extensively.

Would you please tell us about some of SMC’s most recent successes and their importance to our military and national defense?

Dave Madden
The Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) system is a joint service satellite communications system that provides survivable, global, secure, protect and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets. AEHF enables the National Security Council and Unified Combatant Commands to control their tactical and strategic forces at all levels of conflict through general nuclear war, and supports the attainment of information superiority. Recent successes and upcoming milestones include...

– AEHF-1 on-orbit and scheduled for turnover to operations

– AEHF-2 scheduled to launch 3Q, FY12

– AEHF-3 completes final integration and tests this summer and goes into storage awaiting launch

– AEHF-4 production contract awarded FY11

– AEHF 5/6 contract scheduled for award 3Q, FY12

– Upgraded ground system to support eXtended Data Rate (XDR) capability, 4Q, FY11

maddenfig5 The Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) system provides flexible, high-capacity communications for the Nation’s warfighters through procurement and operation of the satellite constellation and the associated control systems. With its first launch in October 2007, second launch in April 2009, and the third launch in December 2009, WGS Space Vehicles -1, -2, and -3 are the DoD’s highest capacity communications satellites. Recent successes and upcoming milestones include...

– WGS-4 operational 3Q, FY12

– WGS Block-II follow-on contract for WGS 7 – 9 awarded FY11. New firm fixed price contract strategy taking advantage of commercial business practices. Approach saved more than $350M

– WGS-9 international partnership agreements signed 2Q, FY12

– WGS-10 scheduled for award 3Q, FY12

The Terminal Program Office deploys communication terminals synchronized to support satellite weapon system operations and provides support for 16,000 aircraft, transportable and fixed site terminals. Recent successes and upcoming milestones include...

– Awarded Transportable Ground Receive Suites (TGRS) contract, 4Q, FY11

– Completed delivery of 126 GMTs, 1Q FY12

What new satellites and launches are scheduled for the not-too-distant future?

Dave Madden
We have many commitments in 2012 we’re looking forward to completing and it is more than just launching satellites.

– Expand international cooperation, in accordance with National Space Policy, and award International Partners buy of WGS-9

– Turnover AEHF-1 to operations and deliver AEHF-2 for launch in April 2012

– Award AEHF-5/6 contract

– Award EPS Control and Planning Segment (CAPS) contract

– Award WGS-10 contract

– Purchase 4 AF Wideband Enterprise Terminals

– Ensure no lapse of CCS-C production & sustainment capabilities by awarding the follow-on CPASC (CCS-C Production and Sustainment Contract)

– Expand MILSATCOM capabilities by awarding upgrade to WGS providing an additional 25 percent throughput capacity

– Expand MILSATCOM capabilities by awarding development of non-proprietary and unclassified protected tactical waveforms

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Given your experience as a Colonel in the U.S.A.F., and as the MILSATCOM Director, where do you see MILSATCOM developing over the next year or two?

Dave Madden
The MILSATCOM Systems Directorate will continue to deliver needed capabilities by launching additional AEHF and WGS satellites as planned. In parallel, we will develop modest, cost-effective enhancements to AEHF and WGS. Additional notable activities include the EPS Control and Planning Segment (CAPS), a BAA focused on improving the affordability of protected MILSATCOM, and a BAA focused on hosted payloads.

How concerned are you regarding launch capacity scheduling for your satellites?

Dave Madden
Our #1 priority in MILSATCOM is to ensure we’re delivering the capability our warfighters and decision makers need with respect to military satellite communications. We are also very mindful of the significant fiscal pressures our nation is under. We want to ensure we deliver capability when needed but not break the bank doing it.

We have robust processes in place to determine which satellites should be launched when based on satellite constellation health and capability need. Therefore, when capabilities are needed, we’re able to launch within the current launch capacity. We’ve worked hard to synchronize the delivery of satellites when they’re needed and when launch opportunities are available. However, this is challenging across all of our DoD programs. In the end, we’ve been able to deliver capability when needed, focusing on our #1 priority.

There has already been an SMC-involved hosted payload launch... what are your thoughts about hosted payloads as one RESPONDER to reducing costs, obtaining launch capacity, and speeding up orbital placement?

Dave Madden
Hosted payloads represent another option to deliver capabilities. In fact, we currently have several systems that are, in fact, hosted payloads (Interim Polar System, IPS; Global Broadcast Service, GBS; and Enhanced Polar System, EPS). Looking toward the future, several studies have been conducted and have identified a few issues that must be addressed before this option can be used more routinely. These issues include acquisition practices, information assurance, and DoD policies on contracts, frequency/orbital slot filings, and launch platforms.

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Are you looking at increased U.S.A.F. use of small satellites (nanos, micros, minis and so on)? If so, what are the main reasons for such?

Dave Madden
MILSATCOM Systems Directorate is supporting Air Force and DoD studies on a wide variety of options. We continue to support technical information exchanges with DARPA and NASA with respect to nano and micro satellites. Thus far, we have not found a good application for nano and micro satellites for MILSATCOM users.

As you recall all of your past duties, from your command of a Space Operations squadron, to your current command role, what programs and/or projects bring you the most satisfaction?

Dave Madden
I have to say I had an exciting 30 years as active duty in the Air Force. I got the opportunity to travel the world and learn and experience so much from many of our international allies, other services, and Air Force members. The Air Force gave me responsibility and the opportunity to succeed and to make a difference in saving lives and improving the quality of life for everyone on the planet (e.g., GPS).

I am always looking forward, so the programs that bring me the most satisfaction are the ones I am currently working. The challenge associated with meeting critical warfighter needs in this highly technical and unforgiving space environment within schedule and budget, maintaining systems on orbit that far exceed the planned operational life, and developing and implementing new architectures strategies that are significantly improving future new capabilities make every day exciting.

When I add to that the opportunity of working daily with some of the greatest, smartest and most dedicated individuals in the world (The Aerospace Corporation, MITRE Corporation, U.S. Air Force (military and civilians), and our Prime and sub contractor partners), I am truly in Heaven.

Thank you, Mr. Madden, for taking time away from your crucial responsibilities to expand on some specific issues with MilsatMagazine readers.