USAF Space Spending Sees 20 Percent Increase in 2018

SBIRS GEO-3 is encapsulated at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., Jan. 10, 2017, in preparation for its launch later that month. Lockheed Martin photo.

President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposes a 20 percent increase in Air Force space investment over President Barack Obama’s 2017 request. The administration is requesting $7.75 billion in total space investment with a sharp 27 percent increase ($913 million) in research, development, test, and evaluation funds.

The budget plan demonstrates the “great progress of the last three years in understanding the problems” of a contested space environment, David Hardy, associate deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space, told reporters Wednesday. The President’s Budget provides support to continue building the “component parts” of an “overall resilient space enterprise” that strikes a necessary balance between “mission performance” and “mission assurance,” Hardy added.

Maj. Gen. Roger Teague, director of space programs, told reporters the budget was aimed at finding a “sweet spot between capability, resiliency, and affordability.”

The budget includes initial funding for two new satellites in the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) missile warning constellation, the eighth Operationally Responsive Space satellite aimed at filling a military weather gap, development work on GPS III satellites 11 and beyond, 23 new Family of Advanced Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals (FAB-T), and three new competitive launches in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.

There are also funds for National Space Defense Center operations and continued development of the troubled GPS III ground control system, known as OCX, and military GPS user equipment.

Beyond these programs, the budget proposes to spend $164 million on new starts in space, including $87.5 million for an Evolved SBIRS constellation that would provide strategic missile warning in coordination with an open framework ground control system.