In keeping with direction from Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman, the U.S. Space Force’s Space Delta 11 unit plans to scale up training in the next several years to improve the protection and function of U.S. satellites.
“What I perceive in the next maybe one to three years is an ability to have a threat surrogate on orbit that’s not going to do any threatening, but it might have the dimensions and the orbitology of sometihng on orbit that we’re concerned about,” Col. Kyle Pumroy, the commander of Space Delta 11 , told a Space Force Association forum on Dec. 15. “At the same time, we’ll have range capacities that can watch a certain volume of space and see how things work out, and then we’ll have an asset on orbit that needs to take defensive actions. Perhaps, it’s a service-retained capability that has fuel on it that we can do real defensive actions.”
Created last year, Space Delta 11 has five squadrons that provide range capacity and orbital/electronic warfare test and training: the 98th Space Range Squadron; the 11 Delta Operations Squadron; the 25th Space Range Squadron, which provides electronic warfare (EW) training for Space Force and other services’ units; the 527th Space Aggressors Squadron, which conducts training to mitigate GPS and satellite communications interference for Space Force and drone operators; and the 57th Space Aggressors Squadron, which focuses on training Space Force operators against co-orbital and direct ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) threats.
“Right now, that’s fully virtual,” Pumroy said of the 57th Space Aggressors Squadron’s co-orbital and DA-ASAT training. “We do that in a number of virtual environments, but we are looking to see at one point perhaps having satellites that either are aggressor assets or aggressors buying time on to represent threats for test or training opportunities that our Guardians need but done in a safe and secure way on the 98th Space Range Squadron’s range capacities.”
U.S. officials have said that they are concerned by Chinese and Russian development, possession, and use of ASAT systems, such as Russia’s Nudol missile.
Space Force is also funding a National Space Test and Training Complex (NSTTC) in Nevada to improve training of operators against threats to space systems in four areas: orbital warfare, EW, cyber, and digital.
NSTTC “will be a collection of range capacities that allow us to do test on systems and collect data…to ultimately do realistic combat training, both live and virtually so we can identify where the weaknesses are in our force, focus on those weaknesses, [and] make readiness real,” Pumroy said.
“We’re in the initial stages of building that out,” he said.