The Pentagon’s next space spending wave

While the Pentagon’s major satellite programs come to the end of their production run, funding for new protected communication and missile warning programs spikes in 2021.

The U.S. Air Force is asking Congress for $8.9 billion in 2017 to keep its satellite assembly lines humming, improve space situational awareness capabilities, and conduct five rocket launches for the Department of Defense. Significant increases for the service’s next wave of programs, including the development of next-generation satellites for missile warning, protected communications, and weather forecasting, doesn’t show up until 2018 and beyond. The Air Force’s five year plan, sent to Capitol Hill Feb. 9, calls for $1.2 billion to help industry develop the launchers that will carry these next-generation military and spy satellites (See Milspace Briefing).

While the Pentagon’s major satellite programs come to the end of their production run, funding for new protected communication and missile warning programs spikes in 2021.


GPS 3 Satellite Spending

The Air Force is bringing online a new generation of GPS 3 satellites and a new ground system, which means increased spending on those programs. The service plans to buy a total of 10 satellites from 2018 to 2021. The ground system, known as the Operational Control Segment, continues to face expensive delays in development and is not expected to be completed any sooner than 2021.


A series of new starts offers clues about the long-term capabilities the Defense Department desires.

Deep Space Advanced Radar Concept$9,900,000Increase the sensitivity, capacity, search rates, and scalability to detect, track and maintain custody of objects in deep space orbit.
Launch System Investment$296,572,000Invest in new or upgraded launch systems to meet national security needs.
Protected tactical Enterprise Services$19,800,000Provide the ground system for future operations of a protected tactical waveform.
Space Analysis and Application Development$990,000Creates a new center to update government-owned software to ingest and disseminate new data sources from sensors.
Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center$14,850,000Improve information sharing across the national security space community to effectively respond to potential future space threat events.
Ground Radar Upgrades$9,800,000Improve the sensitivity and search capability of existing space situational awareness sensors to better support operational timelines.
Mulitple-object Kill Vehicle$71,513,000Develop a program to place several miniaturized kill vehicles atop a single interceptor.

Space protection remains a priority. The Air Force identified 14 programs that would benefit from a five-year $5.5 billion funding wedge to counter space threats from China and Russia.

Bounty Hunter: $8,580,000
Ground radar-update: $19,650,000
Space Situational Awareness Operations Demo: $25,030,000
JICSpOC infrastructure: $27,720,000
Joint Execution and Tasking System for Space: $32,880,000
Space Control Technology: $40,010,000
Deep-space Advanced Radar Concept: $84,180,000
Space Test and Training Range Development: $98,090,000
Counter Communications System: $144,550,000
Space Security and Defense Program: $158,450,000
JSpOC Missions System: $332,480,000
Space Fence: $332,860,000
Space-based Space Surveillance (SBSS) Follow-on: $359,400,000
Undisclosed space protection efforts, including classified programs (Includes the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness program, whose budget remains classified): $3,800,000,000