C4ISR: The Foundation of Security
Usually, when you hear people talk about national security, you think about the tanks and planes, ships, and soldiers. Underneath that more visible layer is an even more fundamental layer: C4ISR.
What is it?
It stands for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance. It’s what underpins every aspect of not only our military, intelligence, and security, but every other country as well.
You may have heard of the “networked battlefield.” Well, this is it, and where only a couple decades ago this was just a theoretical vision of what was to come, today it exists at a level far beyond those visions.
Intel That Looks Down…and Out
There are a couple significant levels to C4ISR. The first is networking the battlefield. For example, you have a soldier that launches a drone. That drone is connected to base command, which is connected to theater command, which is connected to operational command, which is connected to the Pentagon.
Everyone from the soldier on the ground to the general halfway around the world is watching what’s happening in real time. Then there’s the information that’s also coming in simultaneously from other more persistent drones, as well as satellites that can read a license plate 5,000 miles above Earth.
All those eyes in the sky also need their own protection nowadays as well. While Earth has been carved up into spheres of influence, space has not. It’s a lot more difficult to claim any part of space as any particular country’s possession.
That’s where space based C4ISR gets tricky. The US may have a spy satellite that’s orbiting right next to a Chinese or Russian satellite, and no one can do anything about it.
At least, not yet.
Global Growth Potential Is Out of the World
Plus, as more and more countries develop space programs – whether to improve their communications, resources, intelligence, or commerce – they all have to be monitored. As launches start to proliferate from around the world, all of it needs to be tracked and assessed as well.
As you can see below, space based C4ISR systems are growing rapidly, and in the US, companies like L3Harris (NYSE: LHX), Leidos (NYSE: LEI), Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC), and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) are leaders in the field. Many other companies are coming online as well, including launch companies that specialize in sending small cargoes into space.
There’s already significant activity in this sector, and it will continue to grow globally. It will also complement other space programs that we’ve discussed in earlier articles, since C4ISR of the future won’t just be focused on Earth – but to the Moon and beyond!
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