The House Appropriations Committee’s recently released fiscal year 2020 draft defense bill funds various Air Force space efforts, but also places holds on Pentagon-wide space endeavors including the Space Force while requesting additional information.
Lawmakers appear to want more information about DoD plans to stand up a new Space Force within the Air Force, as well as a new Space Development Agency (SDA) within the Pentagon that would be separate from the Air Force’s space procurement agencies.
The bill, released May 14, includes $15 million in operations and maintenance funds for the Pentagon “to study and refine plans for the potential establishment of a Space Force as a branch of the Armed Forces.” However, “nothing in this provision shall be construed to authorize the establishment of a Space Force,” the language stipulates.
According to the bill’s language, no funds in the draft HAC bill can be obligated to the Space Development Agency until 90 days after senior defense officials submit a report to Congress to include the proposed plan to establish the SDA, along with a description of the programs and projects that the SDA plans to work on over the next three years, along with expected funding requirements.
The report, which must be submitted by the secretary of defense in conjunction with the secretary of the Air Force and undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, must also include a description of how the Air Force and the SDA will jointly develop an “integrated space architecture” to guide relevant investments for both agencies, and how they will work together on prototyping efforts and transitions to programs of record.
Congress also wants to know the proposed physical location of the Space Development Agency, the proposed number of personnel expected to comprise the SDA over the first three years, and to examine a plan to transition the SDA into the Air Force no later than fiscal year 2022, or into a Space Force.
The bill also stipulates that not more than 50 percent of the funds appropriated or otherwise made availability by this Act may be obligated or expended by the DoD for the next generation overhead persistent infrared program (OPIR) early warning satellite program until such a report is submitted.
House appropriators also appear concerned about discussions to shift elements of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) into the Space Force, and forbit the transfer of resources, personnel and property from the intelligence community into the Space Force.
The draft bill includes nearly $2.4 billion for Air Force space procurement within the fiscal year 2020 draft defense bill, to include $1.24 billion for four space launch service efforts.
It also includes $2.7 billion for Air Force missile procurement, with an additional $201 million in OCO funding. About $1.6 billion would go to Air Force ammunition, and an additional $939 million under OCO funding. Over $44 billion would go to Air Force research, development, test and evaluation funding, with an additional $128 million in OCO funding.
The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to markup the bill March 15.