The Pentagon is taking a closer look at its nuclear command, control and communications needs as it fleshes out what technologies it plans to buy.
Existing systems are aging. The last major upgrade of the architecture took place in the 1980s, noted a recent report by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies titled, "Modernizing U.S. Nuclear Command, Control and Communications."
These capabilities include air-, land- and space-based sensors and platforms, communications networks and other technologies that enable the military to detect incoming attacks, report false alarms, securely communicate with senior leaders and command the use of strategic weapons.
"Modernizing NC3 is an open-ended process that is likely to intensify over the next decade," the report said.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that operating and modernizing these systems could cost $77 billion from fiscal years 2019 to 2028.
Maj. Gen. Stephen Davis, director of global operations at U.S. Strategic Command, said the Defense Department is setting up a new nuclear C3 enterprise center to refine operating concepts and future capability requirements that account for evolving threats and technologies. The organization is expected to be up and running in April.
"We know that our next NC3 system will be very different, but we don't exactly know what it will look like," he said at a recent conference on Capitol Hill. "We're looking for a framework for a flexible, continuously evolving ... set of capabilities," he added.
The Pentagon will...