More than half of the U.S. Space Force’s (USSF) $832 million unfunded priorities list (UPL)–$431.1 million–is devoted to programs “to develop a warfighting punch.”
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 future USSF Space Systems Command (SSC).
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, the USSF Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) at Los Angeles AFB, Calif. declared initial operational capability with the 4th Space Control Squadron at Peterson AFB, Colo. for the L3Harris 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 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, per SMC.
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.
“There are 16 CCS Block 10.2 fielded systems which currently operate at Peterson Air Force Base, Vandenberg Air Force Base [Calif.], Cape Canaveral Air Force Station [Fla.], and OCONUS [outside of continental United States] locations,” SMC has said. “The next block upgrade to CCS Block 10.2 is called CCS Meadowlands and is currently in development. The CCS Meadowlands design will be more modular, scalable, and reduces the operational footprint from 14 racks of equipment to 3 to 4 racks of equipment.”
SMC had said last year that Meadowlands would reduce the operational footprint from 14 to two racks of equipment.
Meadowlands is to provide frequency bands beyond those in earlier CCS versions.
USSF is requesting nearly $60 million in procurement in fiscal 2022 for Meadowlands–an increase of $16 million from the fiscal 2021 funded amount–and $5 million, about the same as funded in fiscal 2021, for one Bounty Hunter system. Bounty Hunter became a DoD program of record in March, 2019.
The Meadowlands acquisition request “is for the production of seven CCS Meadowlands systems (includes signal processing, radio frequency, photonic, and other communications equipment), remote operations suites, mission emulators, training equipment, antenna, and associated spares,” per USSF, which adds that it plans to implement “system resiliency and situational awareness necessary to operate in the contested space domain.”
“Activities may include, but are not limited to program office support, studies, technical analysis, etc.,” USSF said.
In addition to the development of a “warfighting punch,” the USSF fiscal 2022 UPL also requests funds for a number of other efforts, including $10.9 million for cyber protection of space focused ground-based radar and the Lockheed Martin [LMT] Space Based Infrared System.
The $10.9 million would go toward the Manticore system, a DoD suite that highlights cyber vulnerabilities across programs. The DoD cyber protection product lines have included Manticore for detection, Pegasus for protection, Chimera for identification, and Kraken for response.
The USSF fiscal 2022 UPL also requests $28 million for SSC to develop a Blackjack radio frequency payload to support Air Combat Command surveillance needs. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched the Blackjack program in 2018 to demonstrate the utility of a global high-speed, mesh network in low-Earth orbit.
SSC, which is to stand up this summer at Los Angeles AFB, Calif., is to provide rapid identification, prototyping, and fielding of innovative space systems to help fulfill the 2018 National Defense Strategy.
“If approved, [the $28 million in] funding would be applied to DARPA Blackjack contracts within 1‐2 months,” per the USSF fiscal 2022 UPL. “Space‐to-surface ISR capability demonstration would occur in FY22/23 and will inform investment decisions by the Air Force and Space Force. Initial prototypes would provide proof of concept as well as preliminary tactical ISR data for Air Combat Command and other requirements owners.”