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New satellites for the US Army: The US Army plans to use satellites to capture ground targets in the future. To confirm the concept, the US Army is currently testing three “Gunsmoke-J” satellites. The square satellites (Cube Sat) have been in low earth orbit at an altitude of around 500 kilometers since June 30th.

Blick nach Amerika
A US Army Gunsmoke-J satellite (Photo: US Army)

The initiative is related to the introduction of barrel and rocket artillery with very long ranges. Especially in the context of a war against a highly armed enemy of equal value, the army assumes that the opposing air defense will hinder the use of tactical reconnaissance aircraft in an early phase of the conflict. As a result, the Army is looking for autonomous target reconnaissance and fire conductance beyond the horizon of vision.

The concept was tested using commercial observation satellites back in autumn last year. Images were downloaded from the satellite in near real time; special software evaluated the images to identify potential targets; the coordinates of the recognized targets were fed into the fire control computer of the field artillery battery. The entire procedure took only 20 seconds.

The Gunsmoke program started five years ago. The three prototype satellites will be integrated into various deployment scenarios by the end of the year. The subsequent evaluation of the course of the test will determine whether series production of the satellites can be initiated.

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