Professor, Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering


Director, Aerospace and Ocean Systems Laboratory

Hume Center for National Security and Technology

Co-Director, Center for Space Science and Engineering Research

Virginia Tech

Aerospace and Ocean Engineering
Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology


Center for Space Science and Engineering Resarch (Space@VT)


Hume Center Aerospace and Ocean Systems Laboratory

The nature of the threat to deployed US national security platforms is changing: as we pivot from a more permissive counterterrorism environment of the last decade to the denied areas of nation-states for the coming decades, we face new challenges in every domain of war, especially the electromagnetic spectrum. Specifically, the new adversary is technologically agile and poses a larger threat to US command and control infrastructure.


To overcome these constraints, the US needs flexible, autonomous platforms with more ability to locally process sensor data and make tactical decisions. These platforms must take advantage of the latest technological capabilities for airborne and spaceborne systems. Otherwise, as the number and complexity of adversary systems grows, the legacy one-for-one acquisition approach ‐ i.e. building a platform to counter a specific enemy platform ‐ and the reliance on high-bandwidth data links supporting remote sensor data processing and tactical decision making will prove fundamentally unsustainable.


Amidst these challenges, Moore’s law provides opportunities for not only greater resiliency and efficiency of deployed systems against the new adversary, but also a class of new RF-based capability for such systems in all domains. Efficiency is achieved at two scales: first at the engagement level by a single platform conducting a broad variety of missions, and second at the payload level by optimizing resources onboard according to mission priorities.