Space force

Space Force budget gets big boost to $24.5 billion in FY23, focuses on resiliency

Space Force gets a big budget boost in FY23. (Greg Nash – Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON: Space Force’s fiscal year 2023 budget request for a whopping $24.5 billion reflects the service’s first real steps toward a more resilient force structure — including $1 billion planned to develop a new missile warning and tracking constellation with satellites in multiple orbits to complicate any adversary attack, according to senior Pentagon officials.

“On the Space Force side … you will see the significant investment as a Space Force pivots to a much more resilient, survivable, and defensible architecture,” Deputy Air Force Secretary Gina Ortiz Jones told reporters. journalists during a budget pre-briefing on March 25. .

The FY23 request is $7 billion more than the service’s FY22 request of $17.4 billion, said Maj. Gen. Jim Peccia, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force. for the budget, during the briefing.

And while Air Force officials did not provide a comparison to actual FY22 allocations, citing the delay of the omnibus federal spending bill signed by President Joe Biden only on March 16, an analysis of the text of the bill shows that a total of about $18 billion has been affected. for the Space Force.

Additionally, budget background documents released by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) show a total of $27.6 billion for space programs in the Department of Defense’s 23-year budget. . The DoD doesn’t break that number down, so it’s unclear exactly what’s counted in its space investment section, but that total may well include some spending planned by the Missile Defense Agency.

No matter how you cut it, it’s a big boost for the newest and smallest in military service. But for size comparison, that still pales in comparison to the approximately $40 billion in the Air Force Department’s FY23 request that goes directly to the intelligence community, much of which will go to classified space efforts. .

CLICK HERE FOR MORE FY23 BUDGET ROLLOUT COVERAGE

The majority of the increased spending is aimed at overhauling how the Pentagon develops, procures and structures its satellite fleets. The goal: to move away from reliance on a small number of very expensive satellites that former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Hyten, called “big targets juicy” to adopt a more resilient force posture based on more and less expensive satellites, scattered satellites were a major driver in the creation of Space Force. The slow movement in this direction has come under criticism from Congress, and getting from here to there will be the service’s top priority for the next decade, chief of space operations Gen. Jay Raymond said earlier. this month.

“The reason there was the Space Force, the reason the Obama administration changed its strategy for space was because of the threat – the widespread investment that China and Russia have in countermeasures capabilities. -space and anti-space, including the things that threaten us in all orbital regimes,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall explained during the briefing.

Overhauling missile warning and tracking capabilities is a top priority for the Space Force in this “transformation” effort, Kendall added.

Indeed, the creation of a new and improved missile warning and tracking network, to include satellites capable of keeping tabs on the highly maneuverable hypersonic weapons being developed by Russia and China, was the subject of the first “force design” effort by the new Space Warfighting Analysis Center. (SWAC). This analysis is classified, but senior officials said it involved the creation of a hybrid architecture missile warning/tracking network with satellites in low, medium and geosynchronous Earth orbit.

Kendall said the plan is to complete a “first phase” of development for the new force design by the end of the five-year Future Years Defense Program (FYDP). However, the Air Force has yet to release its budget justification books, or j-books, which normally include FYDP planning figures.

In addition to missile warning/tracking, Jones highlighted increased funding for space domain awareness and a new space capability to track moving targets on the ground as key Space Force investments in “deterrence.” integrated” – a new buzzword referring to operations in all domains debuted last April by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

where does the money go

The “biggest benefit” of the Air Force’s FY23 request comes from the request for research, development, test, and evaluation (RTD&E) funding, Peccia said, and the Force space has greatly benefited from it. Space Force is requesting $15.8 billion for FY23, up from $11.3 billion for FY22. This is also a significant increase from the $11.6 billion included in the bill. omnibus funding.

Highlights include:

  • About $1 billion in new funding for what Peccia called “resilient missile warning and tracking.” (OSD figures show a total of $4.7 billion for “new resilient missile warning and tracking architectures, including the $1 billion request for Next-Gen OPIR ci below, as well as “the associated enterprise ground system”.)
  • About $1.4 billion for the Space Development Agency’s (SDA) two largest development efforts: the Missile Warning Satellite Tracking Layer in LEO, now called the Technology Development and Prototyping Program space and budgeted at $987 million; and the transport layer, now called the space science and technology program, at $461 million. Under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021, the SDA must be transferred to the Space Force by next October.
  • Nearly $3.5 billion for the Next-Gen Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next-Gen OPIR) program, up $1 billion from FY22, with additional funds specifically targeted to the ground segment and three satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO) of the constellation being built by Lockheed Martin.
  • $566 million for the Evolved Strategic SATCOM program to replace aging Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) for encrypted national security communications, up $406 from the FY22 request; and an additional $121 million for the Protected Tactical Enterprise Service, which is a ground-based system for implementing the service’s new Protected Tactical Waveform anti-jamming software, currently focused on the Indo-Pacific theater . (OSD charts show $1.6 billion demand for rugged/secure/survivable/jam-resistant broadband and narrowband shielded tactical capabilities.)
  • $231 million, up from the FY22 request of $123 million, for the Advanced Deep Space Radar Capability (DARC),which will track space objects in GEO 24/7, intended for Site 1 rapid prototyping.
  • $36 million in climate change-related investments, primarily aimed at reducing Space Force energy consumption.

The procurement account also received an increase from FY22 from approximately $2.8 billion to $3.6 billion – also an increase from the approximately $3 billion allocated in the project. omnibus spending bill.

While launch services continue to represent a significant portion of the procurement budget, the number of planned launches in FY23 has decreased from this year’s total. The request includes nearly $1.1 billion for three National Security Space Launch Program (NSSL) launches for Space Force, compared to five for FY22; and $314 million for SDA to launch three satellites, instead of the six planned for FY22. (OSD charts put demand for the same number of launches at $1.6 billion.)

The procurement request further includes two new GPS III Follow-On satellites, 22 of which are under development by Lockheed Martin – another initiative designed “to provide increased resiliency”, Peccia said. The department’s budget tables show a total of $761 in procurement funds for the GPS III and GPS III tracking programs. (OSD tables cite a $1.8 billion request covering the 2 GPS III tracking satellites and “continued testing and core platform integration” of military GPS 1 user equipment .)

Finally, the Space Force operations and maintenance budget also shows an increase in FY23 demand: $4 billion versus FY22 demand of $3.4 billion. “We added more money for sustaining the weapons system,” Peccia said, allowing funding to cover 83% of readiness needs, compared to 79% last year. The O&M request also includes new funds aimed at bringing six of the Space Force’s eight deltas (the equivalents of army brigades) to full mission capability, he noted.

It also includes $18 million for the purchase of commercial data to improve space domain awareness, something industry and Congress have been calling for for several years.