The head of the U.S. Space Force said the service recently completed an enterprise review of the military’s missile warning, missile defense architecture and noted he was “extremely pleased” with how it was received by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council.
“We just pulled together a very broad team, made up of organizations around the Department of Defense and did an enterprise level review of our missile warning, missile tracking, missile defense architectures and briefed the JROC on that just a couple of weeks ago. That went extremely well,” said Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond. He elaborated that the effort would “make sure everybody is rolling in the same direction, reducing duplication of effort and saving money for Americans.”
With speeds surpassing Mach 5 and the ability to maneuver mid-flight, hypersonic weapons defy the missile defense status quo.
Raymond made the announcement during a Defense Writers Group conference call with members of the media May 20.
While Raymond declined to discuss the details of the review or his interactions with the JROC, he said it was an important step to ensuring the various organizations within the Department of Defense were on the same page in developing space-based missile warning systems. With the establishment of U.S. Space Command, the Space Force, and the Space Development Agency over the last year and a half, there are now several groups working to maintain and upgrade the nation’s space-based missile warning systems.
“There’s lot of different organizations that have pieces of this. Obviously the Space and Missiles Systems Center (SMC) in Los Angeles has a piece of this, the Missile Defense Agency has a piece of it, the Space Development Agency has a piece of it,” said Raymond. “What we’ve effectively done is pull that team together, and in doing so took a look at the entire enterprise and looked at how that enterprise fits together, what’s the proper architecture, how do you align that to make key decisions and what time frame do you have to make those key decisions”
All of those organizations have taken significant steps in recent days toward upgrading the nation’s missile warning architecture.
On May 18, SMC issued a $2.4 billion contract to Northrop Grumman to develop and build two Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared satellites, which will detect ballistic missiles over the polar regions. Those two satellites are part of an initial five satellite constellation, with Lockheed Martin already working on three geosynchronous space vehicles. The U.S. Air Force used a series of reprogramming requests in 2019 to push more money to the effort earlier, hoping that the first satellite would be delivered in 2025.
And the Space Development Agency recently released a draft Request for Proposals for eight Wide Field of View satellites that will be able to track hypersonic weapons from low Earth orbit. Those satellites are expected to be put on orbit in fiscal 2022 as part of the agency’s plans to build a new national security space architecture in low Earth orbit made up of hundreds of satellites performing a variety of functions. The MDA is a key partner in that effort.
“There’s multiple organizations that have a role in this enterprise, and really what we’ve done is integrated these multiple approaches in a manner that allows us to move forward together, and as capabilities are developed to continue to refine our approach,” said Raymond.
Raymond declined to say what redundancies, if any, he been resolved due to the review, though he noted that the JROC seemed satisfied with the effort. Raymond further praised Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Hyten, who chairs the JROC, for his leadership on missile warning and missile defense.
“They approved our overall approach, taking an enterprise look and bringing those pieces together,” said Raymond. “There will be decision points going forward as we continue to develop those capabilities, and we’ll bring them back to the JROC at the appropriate time.”