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AF rolls out fiscal 2018 space budget

WASHINGTON (AFNS) --

Air Force leaders met with media to discuss specifics of the service’s fiscal 2018 space investment budget at the Pentagon May 24, 2017. The request totals $7.75 billion, an approximately 20 percent increase from fiscal year 2017.

Dr. David Hardy, the acting deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space, and Maj. Gen. Roger Teague, the director of space programs for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, highlighted the importance of the fiscal 2018 space budget to the nation’s security and the Air Force’s strategic understanding of the space environment.

According to Hardy, for decades, the U.S. has enjoyed unimpeded freedom of action in the space domain. However, the global space domain is evolving and in the not too distant future, near-peer competitors will have the ability to put U.S. space assets at risk.

“As in every other domain, when an adversary understands that something provides a strategic advantage they do two things…mirror our capabilities and work strenuously to figure out means by which they can deny us,” said Hardy. “You can summarize the progress we have made over the last three budget cycles by saying we really do have a much firmer understanding of all the component parts that are required to build an overall resilient enterprise.”

 The Air Force’s fiscal 2018 space budget emphasizes investments and improvements in future technology in three major focus areas: space superiority, space support to operations and assured access to space.

Teague explained the focus areas emphasize developing the resilient capabilities the Air Force needs to negate adversary actions and ensure America maintains the critical space capabilities required for national security.

 “Space is increasingly congested and contested,” he said.  “With this evolving and changing environment, it’s increasingly critical we must ensure that our capabilities, our future capabilities, outpace the advances in space threats.”   

To gain and maintain space superiority, the Air Force plans to increase investments in advanced space situational awareness, counterspace and command and control. In addition, the service is committed to the continuation of investments in the Space Fence.

“All of these capabilities are going to continue to enhance our ability to understand our operational environment,” Teague said. “We need to be able to command and control our space forces and capabilities to preserve freedom of operations as well as freedom of maneuver.”

The Air Force’s space support to operations is integral to combat, mobility and nuclear forces. The budget reflects this role with support to programs including the Space-Based Infrared System, Space Modernization Initiative, Tech Maturation and Cyber Security, space-based environmental monitoring and modernization of protected satellite communications.

To ensure the Air Force’s ability to continue to own the high ground, the space budget provides funding for infrastructure, studies and analysis for the three evolved expendable launch vehicle launch services, which are competitive launch opportunities. The Air Force has a total of six launches planned for fiscal 2018.

Teague said the Air Force will continue to evolve the space enterprise to be more flexible, survivable and resilient to ensure the capability to provide space superiority across the spectrum of conflict for tomorrow's highly contested environment. 

“We must, as the (chief of staff of the Air Force) has emphasized several times, normalize space as a warfighting domain and focus our efforts to outpace and defeat advanced, demonstrated and evolving threats,” said Teague. “(The) increases in investment will continue to be necessary to maintain our space superiority and our capabilities in FY 18 and in the future.”