Washington Institute For Defence & SecurityWashington Institute For Defence & SecurityWashington Institute For Defence & Security
Washington, DC 20001

The U.S. Space Force’s $24.5 billion funding proposal for fiscal 2023 is a 40% increase over last year, driven by the Department of Defense’s need to expand its space-based missile warning and tracking system.

During an embargoed media conference on March 25, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall informed reporters that the Space Force’s $7 billion budget increase beyond the service’s $17.4 billion fiscal 2022 proposal reflects a need to move to more robust space architectures. The majority of the increase is devoted to research and development, but it also includes transfers from other services and the Space Development Agency, which will be absorbed into the Space Force in October.

“The reason there is a Space Force, the reason the Obama administration changed its strategy for space, was because of the threat — the widespread investment that both China and Russia have in anti-space, counterspace capabilities, including things that threaten us and within all different orbital regimes,” Kendall said. “This is a move toward systems that can continue to provide the services we depend on.”

Kendall highlighted that, while the Space Force’s fiscal 2023 budget proposal is heavily weighted toward research and development, money would move toward procurement in the future years as the service begins to deploy a new system architecture. The service’s $15.8 billion R&D budget is $4.5 billion greater than in fiscal 2022 and more than four times the fiscal 2023 procurement spending request, which is roughly $3.6 billion.

“When you see the R&D-to-procurement-cost ratios that you’re seeing in our budgets right now, it’s like a red signal that warns you that the procurement costs that will be necessary to acquire the things you have in R&D are going to increase up,” he added. “So, we’re doing R&D, and that’s a down payment on future capability, but there’s a requirement — if we’re going to be able to effectively deter and project power the way we need to be able to do it — to move that R&D money into procurement and put real quantities of actual equipment in the hands of our operators.”

Kendall stated that he has asked the Air Force and Space Force procurement bureaus to organize projects such that “significant” capabilities may be fielded as soon as possible.

“As a result, I believe there will be some very difficult decisions as we go through R&D and identify exactly what we’re going to acquire in order to go into a procurement mode rather than an R&D one,” he added.

The Space Warfighting Analysis Center has spearheaded force design work to enable key architectural shifts for the Space Force, with early efforts focusing on the Department of Defense’s missile warning and tracking systems. Based on that research, the service’s budget request is for $4.7 billion for the satellites, sensors, and ground equipment that will comprise that architecture.

This includes a $1 billion boost for the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared System, which is constructing missile surveillance satellites in geosynchronous and Polar orbits, as well as a new ground section that will combine data from missile warning sensors. The agency budgeted $2.45 billion for the program’s three phases in fiscal 2022.

The Department of Defense has yet to release detailed budget justification documents, so it’s unclear how the $1 billion will be distributed, but spokeswoman Capt. Samantha Morris told C4ISRNET that the increase includes $576 million in additional funding for the GEO segment and $238 million for Polar, with the remaining $186 million likely supporting the ground segment.

The budget request also includes $1 billion for what appears to be a new effort dubbed Resilient Missile Warning and Tracking, which Kendall claimed would pay the service’s long-term architectural development. He didn’t go into much information about the project, but he did say it will be part of a “proliferated, multi-orbit, disaggregated architecture” that is more resistant to assault. If authorized, the early development funds will put the service on schedule to undertake first purchase of that architecture within the next five years, according to Kendall.

Morrison stated that the Space Development Agency’s Tracking Layer, the other component of the department’s space-based missile defense system, is included in the Resilient Missile Warning and Missile Tracking budget line. She did not provide exact budget amounts for SDA’s missile monitoring capabilities, instead stating that “the entire portfolio is now being reviewed to decide how effectively to deploy the resources.”

Other budget proposals include $1.6 billion for six Space Force and SDA launches, as well as a $406 million increase for the Evolved Strategic Satellite Communications program, a major increase above last year’s $160 million request. The Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellite program will be replaced by ESS to enable secure, survivable, and anti-jam communications.

In addition, $108 million is requested for the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability, a quick acquisition initiative that will offer all-weather space domain awareness in GEO. If authorized, fiscal 2023 funding would enable the establishment of the first DARC facility as well as radar prototypes. Northrop was granted a $341 million Other Transaction Agreement by the Space Force in February for the program’s first increment.


Leave A Comment

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive latest news, updates, promotions, and special offers delivered directly to your inbox.
No, thanks