China’s military has deployed 347 satellites, including 35 launched in the past six months, to target U.S. forces in a future conflict, the commander of the Space Force told a Senate hearing yesterday.
Space Force Gen. B. Chance Saltzman said Russia is also testing and deploying orbital anti-satellite weapons, extensive cyber capabilities and land-based anti-satellite missiles, electronic jammers and lasers.
China’s more advanced space warfare weapons pose “the most immediate threat” to attacks in space, while less-capable Russian space assets also pose “an acute threat” of attacks or disruptions on U.S. satellites. Washington Examiner
“The funding is a critical step to combat emerging space threats and to meet our pacing challenge,” the service said in the overview documents released Monday. “The focus is on long-range kill chains, resilient missile warning and missile tracking, operational test and training infrastructure, protecting and enhancing strategic systems and bolstering foundational elements.”
The Budget press release:
The Department of the Air Force unveiled a $259.3 billion budget request March 13 designed to continue modernizing the Air Force and Space Force to meet evolving threats while also nourishing current needs that include training, readiness, and fostering new technology.
Broken apart, the $259.3 billion proposal that Congress will now consider for the fiscal year beginning October 1, includes $215.1 billion for the Air Force and $30 billion for the Space Force. If enacted into law as proposed, the Department’s overall budget would grow by $9.3 billion beyond last year’s enacted budget.
The increase is necessary, Department of the Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said, to continue modernizing and transforming both services to meet an array of new threats from adversaries and challenges emanating from China as well as those from Russia, North Korea, Iran, and other nations.
The budget request includes notable increases for upgrading the ground-based nuclear deterrent know as Sentinel; increasing the number of military space launches to 15 from 10 which underscores the importance of space; and a $5 billion increase in research and develop necessary to bring “the force of the future” into reality. The proposed budget also accounts for inflation and rising fuels costs as well as boosting funds for recruiting and retention.
“We are united in our commitment to modernizing the Air and Space Forces and in achieving the transformation we must have to be competitive with our pacing challenge – China, China, China,” Kendall said, noting that the proposed budget marks a significant step in meeting that goal.
While the budget proposal is unlikely to be adopted without changes from Congress, the document represents the Department’s priorities for maintaining the nation’s security and interests. Kendall and other senior leaders acknowledged that the request is the result of difficult trade-offs but also reflects a consensus for how to achieve the Department’s mission and the larger operational priorities of the Department of Defense.
In addition to funding for large, overarching efforts to train and equip the force and modernize the way bases are arrayed and managed, the budget proposal includes a multitude of specific line items.
Among them are $4.8 billion in new funding for Kendall’s seven Operational Imperatives. That effort is the blueprint for modernizing and reshaping the Air and Space Forces to accelerate capabilities and position themselves more closely to meets the security threats – and adversaries – of today and in the future.
Underneath that effort is funding that modernizes the Air Force’s fighter fleet, adding 72 fighters (F-35s and F-15EX), another that provides early-stage funding for the next generation of aerial refueling tankers, and funds for updating crucial command and control functions, among others.
The budget proposal also:
- Invests in further development of the new and next-in-line fighter aircraft known as “Next Generation Air Dominance” and its powerplant known as Next Generation Adaptive Propulsion;
- Pays attention to fiscal discipline by divesting platforms (310 aircraft) that “do not address our most concerning national security challenges;”
- If approved as written, the budget proposal supplies $1 billion increase to purchase 48 top-of-the-line F-35 fighters, an increase of five over the previous fiscal year;
- It carries $3 billion to support ongoing development and production of the B-21 long-range bomber which is scheduled to achieve its first flight this year; The B-21 will become the backbone of the Air Force’s long-range strike force;
- The proposal would deliver $2.6 billion to the Space Force for 15 launches in the fiscal year which is an increase of five launches;
- It designated $4.4 billion to continue developing and testing the Sentinel ground-based nuclear deterrent, and as well as $500 million for procurement. It also includes $1.1 billion for upgraded and resilient missile warning and tracking.
Echoing comments he made March 7 in a major address, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., said the budget proposal is highly focused on delivering not only a more modern Air Force, but one that has the right combination of hardware, people and “capabilities.”
“We must make sure we have the right mix of capabilities and capacity as an Air Force and as a Joint team to be successful,” Brown said.
Chief of Space Operations, Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, made a similar point.
“We must field combat-ready forces so the Space Force has the personnel, expertise, weapon systems, and equipment required to protect U.S. interests in space,” he said, adding that the proposed budget balances those requirements for the nation’s newest military service.
The budget includes as well smaller, but still significant, increases for pilot training and for bonuses to increase chances that personnel performing critical and highly sought functions will remain in the service.
Taken as a whole, Kendall, Brown, Saltzman as well as other leaders say the budget proposal represents a significant moment in the services’ “essential transformation.” It also advances the Operational Imperatives driving the efforts.
Finally, senior leaders collectively warned that delay is dangerous and that “standing still is falling behind.” That is why each has beseeched Congress to complete the appropriations process on-time to ensure that “the Air Force and Space Force remain dominant.”