The proposed Air Force space budget advanced about 5 percent to $11.9 billion in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009, which would be up from $11.3 billion in the current fiscal 2008.

That proposal is part of President Bush’s overall fiscal 2009 federal government budget plan that he sent to Congress for its review and approval, a matter lawmakers will debate in coming months.

Examining the overall Air Force space programs budget shows that many increased, while some decreased, in their total financing, which includes both procurement funds and research-development-test-and-evaluation financing.

The Advanced EHF program would go from $617.3 million in fiscal 2007 to $731.4 million in fiscal 2008 to a proposed $404.6 million in fiscal 2009.

Counterspace Systems would have these figures for those years: $74.8 million, $86.5 million and $104.2 million.

EELV (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle – Space): $871.1 million, $1.092 billion, $1.239 billion.

GPS — user equipment: $145.8 million, $175.1 million, $149.4 million.

GPS — space and control: $256.2 million, $338.5 million, $226.8 million.

GPS III: $291.6 million, $482.8 million, $727.7 million.

Minuteman III Squadrons: $700.0 million, $558.9 million, $329.7 million.

NPOESS (National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite Systems): $343.3 million, $332.5 million, $289.5 million.

Operationally Responsive Space: $42.1 million, $96.5 million, $110.0 million.

Space Based Space Surveillance: $155.4 million, $156.5 million, $120.7 million.

Space Radar: $183.2 million, zero, zero.

Third Generation Infrared Surveillance (3GIRS): $67.6 million, $75.4 million, $149.0 million.

Transformational SATCOM: $700.4 million, $804.7 million, $842.9 million.

WGS: $456.5 million, $341.9 million, $34.9 million.

‘A Modest Increase’

Overall, the fiscal 2009 Air Force space budget provides "a modest increase" over fiscal 2008, according to the Center for Defense Information (CDI).

That includes funds for research and development, procurement and operations and maintenance.

That total $11.9 billion sum does not include classified spending for other Department of Defense and National Reconnaissance Office space programs.

According to CDI, a Washington think tank, the lack of clarity about overall DOD space spending prompted Congress in the current fiscal 2008 defense spending bill to call on the Pentagon to develop a Major Force Program (MFP) budget category that would aggregate space spending in a single budget line.

But there has been some resistance to that move within DOD and the Air Force, however, CDI states.

Air Force officials said one hurdle for creation of an MFP is the difficulty in establishing exactly what programs would be included — "something particularly tricky for the terrestrially-based nodes of satellite programs, such as buys of GPS receivers by the Army, Navy and Marines."

But CDI adds that some critics allege "part of the foot-dragging is due to a reluctance on the part of Air Force and Pentagon budgeters to lose the ability to quietly shift planned space funding into other budget pots."

Included in the overall Air Force increase is a plus-up for Space Situational Awareness (SSA), CDI noted.

The $240 million request for fiscal 2009 jumped from the planned request of $190 million fiscal 2008, due to increased concern about the issue in the wake of the Chinese anti- satellite test in January 2007.

"The devil, as always, however, will be in the details," according to CDI, noting that Air Force officials said initial operating capability for the planned upgrade of the Space Fence — a VHF radar network designed to detect objects in Low Earth and Medium Earth Orbit — is again being pushed back, this time to 2015.

In fiscal 2008, the Air Force had delayed the planned upgrade to an S-band radar system capable of detecting smaller objects from 2010 to 2013, CDI recalled.

Meanwhile, the Air Force is conducting an "architecture analysis" of SSA sensors that will be used to inform the fiscal 2010 budgeting process, according to the think tank.