The Defense Department is requesting nearly $12 billion in its fiscal year 2020 presidential budget request for space-based systems, over half of which would fund new and existing satellite programs.
Over $1.1 billion is allocated for satellite communications programs in the Air Force’s FY ’20 Budget Overview Book, released March 12. That would fund the on-orbit testing of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF)-5 space vehicle, scheduled for launch in Calendar Year 2019, and continue production oversight of AEHF-6, expected to launch in CY ’20. Lockheed Martin [LMT] is the prime contractor for the AEHF program.
That $1.1 billion would also fund “selected strategic, protected tactical and wideband SATCOM development activities.” The Pentagon is planning a series of upgrades to its protected SATCOM architecture over the next few years, with the majority of those programs falling under the Air Force. The FY ’20 budget overview book indicates the service is considering procuring two additional Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellites as “replenishment” systems for the 10 systems currently on order.
WGS-10 is scheduled for launch March 15 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. WGS contractor Boeing [BA] confirmed that it is “actively working on the contract with the Air Force on the future of WGS” in a Tuesday statement to Defense Daily.
The service is significantly increasing its research, development, technology and evaluation (RDT&E) requests for space-related efforts. The service’s next-generation overhead persistent infrared (OPIR) program could receive $752 million more in FY ’20 over last year, with $1.395 billion requested.
That would include the development of the Future Operationally Resilient Ground Evolution (FORGE) ground system as well as a new prototype scheduled for launch in 2020, to be followed up a next-gen OPIR block 1 operational prototype to be potentially fielding in the 2026 timeframe.
The next-gen OPIR program is the Air Force’s replacement for the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS), both run by Lockheed Martin [LMT]. The service requested $234 million in procurement dollars for the program.
Over $1.6 billion – including $432 million in R&D – would fund four new launch service efforts under the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program, which until last week was known as the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems [NOC] (Formerly Orbital ATK), Space-X and the Boeing-Lockheed Martin venture United Launch Alliance (ULA) are all contractors vying for launch service agreements.
The Air Force is requesting over $476 million to procure the first of 20 planned GPS III Follow-On satellites, in development by Lockheed Martin. Over $1.2 billion in R&D money is requested to continue development of the GPS III Follow-On systems, and continue efforts to upgrade the existing GPS satellites under the Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX) program.
The initial FY ’20 budget documents revealed few new details regarding how the Pentagon plans to stand up a new Space Force within the Air Force. Over $72 million was requested in the defense-wide budget to transfer 120 military and civilian personnel into the Space Force and add 40 new subject matter experts to the service. The Pentagon plans to include another 40 personnel to assist with standing up the Space Force headquarters at the Pentagon.
The standup of the Space Force will be phased over about five years, through fiscal year 2024. It will initially include about 15,000 personnel, most of which will be transferred from existing services, the document said.
The Pentagon’s FY ’20 budget request also includes nearly $150 million in new resources for the future Space Development Agency and over $83 million for the new U.S. Space Command, over $75 million of which would be transferred from existing funds.