Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall suggested on Aug. 24 that he is on board with the U.S. Space Force’s (USSF) development of offensive counterspace capabilities to include kinetic means.
“As our potential opponents acquire capabilities in space that threaten us, we have to have ways to counter them, and there are a wide variety of things that we can do,” Kendall told reporters in response to a question at a briefing at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. “It’s kind of a basic military tenet that you want to present your opponent with more problems to solve than he can solve. A single way of dealing with that problem, I think, is not the right answer so I can imagine a range of capabilities–some of which are what I call ‘soft kill,’ things like cyber and electronic warfare, and others of which are more about depositing energy onto something and actually destroying. So a variety of ways we can do that. I think that is basically what we’re gonna have to do to deny an adversary some of the capabilities that they would have that could threaten our terrestrial assets, in particular.”
Kendall, 72, a West Point graduate, long-time acquisition expert and former DoD acquisition chief during the Obama administration, recalled that he worked on ground systems for President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.
Included in the $431.1 million are five classified programs worth $289 million–three of which are under the Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (DAF RCO), one of which is under the Air Force Research Laboratory Systems Technology Office, and one of which will be under the USSF Space Systems Command.
The largest of the five programs is a $156 million effort under the DAF RCO.
While Space Force has not disclosed the development of any offensive, kinetic programs, the service has revealed several non-kinetic counterspace efforts, including COLSA Corp.’s Bounty Hunter system, a ground-based system providing satellite communications interference detection, which achieved initial operational capability on Aug. 7 last year, and the $247.5 million Counter Communications System (CCS) Block 10.3 Meadowlands system by L3Harris Technologies [LHX].
On March 9 last year, USSF declared initial operational capability with the 4th Space Control Squadron at Peterson AFB, Colo., for CCS Block 10.2, what SMC termed “the first offensive weapon system in the United States Space Force,” and since then, Space Force has been undertaking the CCS Block 10.3 Meadowlands effort with L3Harris to deliver the first four units by April 2023 (Defense Daily, Nov. 9, 2020).
First introduced in 2004, CCS is a transportable space electronic warfare system that reversibly jams adversary satellite communications, early warning, and propaganda, USSF has said.
Since the 2004 introduction of CCS, SMC and L3Harris have undertaken block upgrades for the system. Meadowlands is so named, as it is to be a departure from the CCS architecture and to reduce significantly the amount of equipment needed to deploy and support CCS.
Meadowlands is to provide frequency bands beyond those in earlier CCS versions, to be more modular and scalable, and to reduce the system’s needs from 14 racks of equipment to 3 to 4 racks of equipment.
The Space Force released a request for proposals for 26 Meadowlands systems in May, and production of the system is to continue through fiscal 2025