BUDGET 2022: Space Force Prioritizes R&D Replacing Vulnerable Systems

By Stew Magnuson

ULA photo

The still relatively new Space Force received a $2 billion bump in the Biden administration’s 2022 budget request.

Proposed funding for the Space Force, which remains under the Department of the Air Force, is $17.4 billion in the request sent to Congress on May 28. Some of that total includes the transfer of funds from the Departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force and comes to a 13.1 percent increase over fiscal year 2021.

About half of the increase came from funding transferred from the other services, said Air Force Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller Maj. Gen. James D. Peccia III.

Another $800 million of the increase came from classified accounts, he added.

Some $2.8 billion of the proposal includes procurement of new spacecraft, terminals, ground control systems, launch services and related communications and training products, Air Force budget documents stated.

The $2.8 billion figure for procurement is significantly smaller than the $11.3 billion being requested for research, development, test and evaluation.

The RDT&E account would help fund the development of spacecraft and technologies that are more resistant to attack, budget documents stated.

“This request increases funding for development of resilient missile warning and missile tracking, effective protect-and-defense architecture, command-and-control systems, protected satellite communications and precision navigation and timing systems that are more survivable against adversary threats,” the documents stated.

The Space Force’s “top priority’ is to develop a joint all-domain command and control (JADC2) concept that will aid the other services' plans to integrate their sensors and shooters.

“We have made considerable gains this year … helping lead the advanced battle management system,” which is the Air Force’s version of JADC2, the budget documents said.

“Legacy space command-and-control capabilities are insufficient for us to prevail in future conflict,” the documents said.

As far as research and development for new spacecraft, the service is proposing $89 million to start development of the Evolved Strategic SATCOM system to replace the Advanced Extremely High Frequency communication satellite. Overall, protected satcom R&D increases to $243 million over the $200 million enacted in 2021.

The Space Force is also partnering with the Missile Defense Agency, National Reconnaissance Office and the Space Development Agency to develop the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program to replace the current Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) along with a ground control system to go with it called the Future Operationally Resilient Ground Evolution.

Overall, Next-Gen OPIR research and development increases from $2.3 billion in 2021 to a proposed $2.4 billion in 2022.

Peccia said the funding will provide for an initial launch capability for the first polar satellite in 2028. “This creates a resilient constellation — when combined with the geosynchronous satellites and associated ground system — to increase missile warning, missile defense battlespace awareness, and technical intelligence,” he added.

The request includes funding to contract for five national security launches, two more than the three enacted in 2021. NRO spy satellite launches are included in that total. SpaceX and United Launch Alliance are the nation’s two launch providers.

As for GPS, the budget request holds steady at procuring two more GPS III spacecraft, the same number as 2021. It also boosts R&D dollars to continue developing military GPS user equipment, the chips and terminals needed to link to the systems, from $381 million to $434 million.

The Space Force plans to boost space domain awareness by developing a deep space advanced radar capability and is asking for a $110 million increase for the program over the $33 million enacted in 2021. Other space situational awareness programs would receive $121 million, up from the $107 million enacted in 2021.

An additional $14 million is included to upgrade legacy ground-based optical and radar systems.

“These upgrades modernize space domain awareness data transport to enable decision-making on tactical timelines,” Peccia said.

Topics: Space

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