Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said at a June meeting that his service might consider using commercial satellites to assure connectivity with strategic nuclear forces. The basic idea is to have as many pathways for controlling the weapons as possible, so that command relationships are sustained even in the midst of a war. However, commercial satellites lack most of the features necessary to assure their survivability and security in executing the military’s most critical mission. They are not adequately configured to resist attacks in orbit or cyber intrusions on the ground. We can’t even be sure about the safety of their supply chains, since many use foreign components such as Russian in-orbit propulsion technology. Relying on such vulnerable conduits in a nuclear crisis sounds like a dangerous idea. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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