This fireside chat recap is from Day 1 of FreightWaves’ Global Supply Chain Week. Day 1 focuses on the military, aerospace and manufacturing.
FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: National defense strategy from World War II to space
DETAILS: A look at the Arnold Engineering Development Complex’s (AEDC) focus on the national defense strategy, which includes developing and testing technology for missile defense and hypersonic weapon systems as well as the nation’s nuclear modernization plan. The chat also discusses the commercialization of space and how the U.S. defends its space assets.
SPEAKER: Jason Coker is the vice director of the AEDC.
BIO: Coker is the vice director of the AEDC, headquartered at Arnold Air Force Base in Tennessee. The complex employs more than 3,000 people and comprises over 68 aerospace test facilities across eight states, offering a suite of test capabilities to simulate speed, temperature, pressure and other parameters to meet the needs of aerospace systems developers.
Coker began his civil service career in 1999 after spending 13 years in the Department of Defense, supporting developmental testing and evaluation of numerous weapons programs across the Air Force and Missile Defense Agency. He has more than 20 years of ground test experience and has served in multiple leadership roles from flight chief to squadron director. Prior to his current assignment, he served as the joint staff, J5, deputy division director for Space and Missile Defense Policy, responsible for providing military Advice for U.S. and DoD policies and strategies.
KEY QUOTES FROM COKER:
On the biggest struggles and challenges his group faces: “We have systems that are operating at Arnold that were brought over in World War II from Germany. They are still operating today — 70, 80 years later. When it comes to making replacements and upgrading those facilities, it is a real challenge and it’s also expensive. These ground test facilities are expensive. We are in a constant battle of trying to keep up, replace old parts.”
On space commercialization: “There’s really been a renaissance in [the] commercial space industry. You’ve got things like SpaceX that actually has the U.S. back able to launch men into space again. We haven’t been able to do that for years now since the shuttle program ended. We’ve been relying on Russia to be able to get our people up into space.”
On the need for space traffic management: “We’ve got universities sending their own satellites up, these little ‘cube sats.’ They’re not much bigger than a gallon jug. But you get those up there and they eventually become debris. How do you manage that? How do you operate in that environment?”