The first in a series of discussions on a DoD acquisition requirement
Early consideration of spectrum supportability in spectrum dependent (S-D) system acquisitions is a fundamental criterion that must be satisfied before the DoD develops and fields communications-electronics (CE) equipment and related weapons systems. Development or acquisition of systems that meet operational requirements, but fail to obtain spectrum supportability, means those systems will not be allowed to operate in the United States or in host nations or may not operate properly give permission to operate. These systems create a potential for severe mutual interference between themselves and other spectrum users, waste valuable time and resources, and delay fielding fully functional warfighting capabilities.
Spectrum access is fundamental to all DoD missions. On-demand access to the spectrum and electromagnetically compatible operations in the EM environment cannot be assumed. The first step is to realize that you need to plan and engineer this into your system or capability. Then you must make sure you have the resources on hand to deal with this. In the end, getting the experts involved early will save you money, time, and aggravation. There are many examples of how the failure to properly address spectrum supportability during the design, test and production processes have caused program impacts in the areas of schedules, missed Milestones, significant financial issues, and/or a system that was produced with significant operational constraints on its use. A major reason why it is so important to manage spectrum resources is because it is under constant and increasing pressure from commercial service providers through reallocation and auctions.
“Spectrum Supportability” can be defined as an assessment as to whether the electromagnetic spectrum necessary to support equipment is available for use by the system. The assessment requires, at a minimum, receipt of equipment spectrum certification, reasonable assurance of the availability of sufficient frequencies for operation from host nations (including the US), and a consideration of ElectroMagnetic Compatibility (EMC). Guidance for these requirements are found primarily in DoDI 4650.01, Policy and Procedures for Management and Use of the Electromagnetic Spectrum, and to a lesser extent in DoDI 3222.03, DoD Electromagnetic Environmental Effects (E3) Program. DoDI 4650.01 requires the submission of a Spectrum Supportability Risk Assessment (SSRA) at each program milestone.
So just what is an SSRA? It is an evaluation performed by DoD Components of all S-D systems to identify and assess EM spectrum and Electromagnetic Environmental Effect (E3) issues that can affect the required operational performance of the overall system based on the mission needs defined by the combat developer and/or Joint Staff in the capabilities development process.
It’s important to remember that the SSRA is about assessing risk. The Risk Management Guide (RMG) for DOD Acquisition defines Risk as a measure of the potential inability to achieve overall program objectives within defined cost, schedule, and performance/technical constraints and has two components: (1) the probability/likelihood of failing to achieve a particular outcome, and (2) the consequences/impacts of failing to achieve that outcome.
We’ll get into the specifics starting with the next post….