The US Space Force has requested additional funding of $16 billion over the next five years to build satellites capable of tracking hypersonic missiles, more than double the previous forecast.
The budget request for the fiscal year 2024 includes a request for $2.3 billion for satellites capable of detecting and tracking these types of threats, an increase of $1.1 billion compared to the fiscal year 2013.
The Space Force’s Resilient Missile Warning Missile Tracking program is developing satellites in more diverse orbits that can spot enemy missiles at speeds greater than Mach 5, bolstering defenses. The satellites will replace the Space-Based Infrared System currently in orbit.
The budget increase
According to documents released in March, the US Space Force requested $2.3 billion for the Missile Tracking Alert program, with annual spending expected to grow to more than $5 billion in fiscal year 27. This budget represents an increase of $9 billion compared to last year’s five-year forecast.
The transition to new capabilities
General Chance Saltzman, head of Space Operations, stated that the service’s ability to fend off threats from China and Russia would depend on how quickly it can transition to new capabilities, such as missile tracking and warning space satellites.
“It’s all about how quickly we can change and pivot to resilient architectures that we think will support deterrence,” Saltzman said during a McAleese & Associates conference in Washington.
Financing for the project
If Congress approves most of the $16 billion budget to fund a fleet of low-Earth orbit satellites managed by the Space Development Agency. The service request includes $1.2 billion for LEO satellites in fiscal year 24 and a total of $9.7 billion over the next five years.
The companies contracted to build the satellites are L3Harris Technologies, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Technologies, and SpaceX, which will make up the Space Force Tracking Layer.
Medium earth orbit satellites
The budget also proposes $538 million in fiscal year 24 for the program’s medium-Earth orbit satellites, which will sit between LEO and geosynchronous orbit, and wants $3.5 billion through fiscal year 28.
Space Systems Command is working with Raytheon and Boeing’s Millennium Space Systems to develop these medium-Earth orbit satellites, complementing low-orbit satellites to detect hypersonic missiles.
The Space Force has also requested $505 million in fiscal year 24 for the ground system that will operate the satellites and expects to spend about $2.8 billion on this segment over the next five years.
If Congress approves the budget, it will fund a fleet of satellites that will replace the current Space-Based Infrared System and provide better defense against hypersonic missile threats from China and Russia.