Pentagon Seeks $14.1 Billion for Military Space Programs

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Department of Defense (DOD) has requested to spend $14.1 billion on space programs in FY 2020, an amount that includes the establishment of a Space Force within the U.S. Air Force and a new Space Development Agency.

“The FY 2020 budget accelerates our efforts to move to a defendable space posture, which is critical as our adversaries continue to develop capabilities to counter our advantages in space,” the DOD said in budget documents. “This budget invests in the survivable and resilient Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared system and continues modernization of our GPS satellites communications systems and space warfighting enterprise.”

The U.S. Air Force would received $13.8 billion, which is $2 billion above the $11.8 billion budget for FY 2019. An additional $306 million would be spent on the U.S. Space Command, Space Force and Space Development Agency .

The U.S. Air Force budget includes:

  • $1.7 billion for four national security space launches;
  • $1.8 billion for one Global Positioning System (GPS) III satellite and related projects; and,
  • $1.6 billion for Next-Generation Space-Based Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) systems.

The military space budget also includes $1.5 billion to support a missile defense review. Projects funded will include land-launched conventional prompt strike, extended-range weapons, and a study of advanced space-based sensors.

President Donald Trump wants to establish the Space Force as a sixth branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. However, there was opposition within the DOD, Air Force and Congress to this move.

“DoD first proposes establishing a new Military Service – a new branch of the Armed Forces – within the Department of the Air Force,” the Pentagon said. “Allowing the Space Force to mature before proposing a new Department of the Space Force would set the conditions for a smooth transition in the future.

“A sixth branch of the Armed Forces dedicated to space would catalyze a fundamental transformation of our approach to space from that of a combat support function to a warfighting domain,” the DOD added. “Establishing a Military Service with dedicated military leadership would further build space warfighting culture; unify and focus development of space doctrine, capabilities, and expertise; and institutionalize advocacy of space priorities to provide for the common defense of all domains.”

The budget requests $72.4M for the initial stand-up of the new Space Force headquarters. That funding will allow for 160 personnel billets, the Pentagon said.

Last week, the DOD formally established the new Space Development Agency, whose goal is to to cut through bureaucratic red tape in the development and procurement of new space systems. The agency’s first director, Fred Kennedy, will report to Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin.

The new agency would be funded at $149.8 million under the White House’s budget request. The Pentagon also wants to spend money on a number of new technology under its R&D budget.

“The FY 2020 Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) budget invests heavily in game-changing technologies, increases funds for modernization of our nuclear triad, continues the development of future space assets and re-profiles funding to advance the most promising capabilities,” according to budget documents.

“Funding continues the development and operational fielding of hypersonics, unmanned autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence and machine learning systems, and algorithmic warfare,” the documents added. “Additionally, the FY 2020 budget continues the development of Next- Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) sensor, and funds GPS-III follow-on satellite, furthering our efforts to move to a defendable space posture.”