Military Review

Command of the US space forces. Structure and weapons of the future

Last summer, US President Donald Trump instructed the Department of Defense to work out the issue of creating space forces - a new kind of troops, designed to solve tasks outside the earth’s atmosphere and to ensure the work of other types of armed forces. In December, the president signed a decree on the creation of a national command of space forces, which was the actual start of work on the creation of new structures. At the moment, the Pentagon is working on various issues and is engaged in the formation of new structures. At the same time, the leadership of the ministry is already ready to disclose part of its plans.

Official statements

Over the past months, various issues related to the creation of cosmic forces have been repeatedly raised at different levels. Recent serious statements on this subject were made recently - March 20. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan, during his speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington), revealed basic information about the new form of the armed forces.

AEHF communication satellite

And about. Secretary of Defense recalled that in the past, the United States already had a space command. This structure was formed in 1985, but in 2002, the Northern Command was created on its basis. Now we are talking about the formation of a completely new command, designed to unite a number of existing structures. It will have to protect the economy as a whole and its individual components, dependent on space technology. The command of the space forces will be 11-m combat command as part of the US armed forces.

Space Command will work as part of the Ministry of the Air Force. The creation of a separate ministry, reporting directly to the high command, was considered inexpedient. The formation of such a structure is particularly difficult and should take a lot of time. Having given the space forces to the structure of the Air Force ministry, the Pentagon will be able to accelerate their formation and save on such processes.

According to current plans, no more than 15-20 thousand people will serve in the new form of the armed forces. It is proposed to spend approximately the same amounts on the functioning of the space troops as on the Special Operations Command.

To support space forces, it is proposed to create a Space Development Agency - the Space Development Agency. This organization will focus on creating new technologies and developing promising samples of space technology. In fact, a promising space group will be built on the development of SDA in the future.

According to P. Shanahan, in the coming years, SDA will have to tackle several main tasks. This organization will need to examine the issue of countering hypersonic arms. It is necessary to find ways to detect, track and defeat. SDA will also search for alternatives to the GPS satellite navigation system. The army will be able to use similar means of navigation in areas without access to a satellite signal.

The question of the interaction of space command and civil organizations is considered. And about. the Minister of Defense recalled that 2500 satellites of various purposes are now in orbit; they provide communication and remote monitoring. In the coming 10 years, only US companies intend to launch 15 thousand more spacecraft into orbit.

Thus, in the next decade, a commercially available large system will be formed, capable of providing observation of the planet. The military should take this into account and prepare for interaction with civilian structures. By connecting non-military organizations to work, the Pentagon will be able to expand its capabilities in space.

The terms of the formation of new structures were approved earlier and have not yet been revised. The command of the space forces will begin its work in 2020 year. In the future, it seems that several years will be spent on strengthening various groups, creating various organs, etc. It is worth expecting that the topic of creating space forces in the future will again rise at the highest level.

Current opportunities

The existing group of spacecraft for various purposes will have to be transferred to the command of the space forces. The existing group is responsible for conducting reconnaissance and surveillance of potentially dangerous areas, is used in the field of communications and navigation, and also performs other tasks. All spacecraft together ensure the work of the formations and units of all armed forces.

According to open data, the US Defense Department's orbital grouping now includes more than 130 spacecraft. More than 40 satellites of several types are used as part of a global communications system that provides data exchange and control of troops across the planet. The GPS navigation system uses the 31 satellite.

Intelligence tasks are solved by more 40 devices. There are 27 electronic intelligence products of six different types. Radar and optical reconnaissance are still 15 devices. Six satellites of two types are responsible for tracking space objects. The missile attack warning system involves two types of 7 devices.

WGS communication satellite

The units responsible for the operation of certain Pentagon spacecraft interact with various structures and ensure the operation of all the main components of the armed forces. Communication and navigation satellites play a key role. The most difficult may be the interaction of space command and organizations of the so-called. intelligence community. The new structure will have to operate the equipment needed by several other organizations. However, such issues have already been successfully resolved by the existing units of the Ministry of Defense.

Modernization in orbits

The greatest questions are caused by the further development of the Space Forces Command in the context of expanding the range of tasks and obtaining new opportunities. In the coming years, having received only the existing space technology, new troops will only be able to conduct reconnaissance and ensure the work of other types of troops. However, further development of new "specialties" is possible. The armament of the cosmic forces can receive real weapons of one kind or another, as well as various systems of a different nature.

According to the Acting Defense Minister P. Shanahan, one of the key tasks for the Space Forces Command and the Space Development Agency in the coming years will be to protect the potential enemy from hypersonic weapons. Washington is well aware of the prospects of such shock systems, which, in particular, has already led to the launch of several of its own projects. Now, amid reports of foreign successes in the field of hypersonic technology, the United States is seriously concerned about the means of protection against such threats.

The basic ways to counteract a hypersonic weapon are, in principle, already known. Difficulties in this area are related to their practical implementation. A missile complex with a hypersonic warhead can be detected already at the stage of launch and acceleration due to the thermal radiation of the launch vehicle. Similarly, it can be traced to the trajectory. These tasks can be accomplished by the satellites of the missile attack warning, but the question remains: will the Space Force Command manage to do with the available grouping or will it be necessary to deploy new assets?

Another urgent task is to create new navigation systems to complement the existing GPS in case of its unavailability. Technical details of such a project are not specified. It should be recalled that alternatives to satellite navigation have long existed, but their principles of operation are not related to the use of space technology.

Space Forces and Missile Defense

The other day in the foreign press there were reports of the imminent start of the development of a new orbital weapon, which may be used by the US space forces. The Missile Defense Agency proposes to contribute to the draft budget 2020 for the financial year the development of promising orbital missile defense systems. We are talking about weapons of different classes, primarily about space lasers. In such work in 2020, it is proposed to spend more than 300 million dollars.

To defeat the warheads of enemy ballistic missiles, it is proposed to use lasers or so-called. beam weapons placed on spacecraft. It is noted that such systems do not belong to weapons of mass destruction, and therefore their development and operation does not violate international agreements on military activities in space. The next few years it is planned to spend on design work, and in 2023, first prototypes can be tested in orbit.

It is argued that the progress of recent years has drastically reduced the dimensions of various devices and products. Due to this, the size of the spacecraft can create a combat system with a sufficiently high performance. In addition, such weapons will have a reasonable cost. Also developed new technologies for the destruction of missiles, based on other principles.

In the foreseeable future, the ABM Agency, in cooperation with other organizations, plans to carry out two research projects. The purpose of the first will be the creation of a combat ABM satellite with laser weapons. In the second, they will create a similar device with a so-called. beam instrument - it will have to hit targets with the help of a directed neutron flux. Both versions of the ABM satellite are planned to be tested in orbit using ground-based target missiles.

Two new projects are planned to be launched in the next fiscal year, subject to obtaining the necessary funding. The Pentagon treats new ideas with some optimism, but is still not sure of the possibility of bringing projects to adoption. In addition, the question of the ownership of such weapons remains unanswered. Its development is initiated by the Missile Defense Agency, but the Space Force Command also appears in media reports in this context. Who exactly will be responsible for the missile defense devices is unclear.

Command of the US space forces. Structure and weapons of the future
Space train SPRN - SBIRS system

However, the US Department of Defense still has enough time to resolve such organizational issues. Work on the new program will start no earlier than the next fiscal year, the tests will begin in 2023, and the results suitable for use in practice will appear even later. During this time, the Pentagon will have time to resolve all major issues.

Structure for the future

At the moment, the command of the space forces is only being formed, and only next year will it be able to start work. It will consist of new units, it will be subject to a new research organization. It is also possible to transfer some existing organizations and parts. In the initial period of its existence, the Command will be subordinate to the existing Air Force Ministry.

In the future, space forces are proposed to be developed, including from an organizational point of view. In a few years, the establishment of a special ministry by the type of the existing ones responsible for the activities of other types of armed forces is not ruled out. The formation of new units and units for various purposes is also expected.

The emergence of new structures under the control of the Space Forces Command may be directly related to the progress in the field of defense technologies. Thus, the emergence of new tools to combat hypersonic weapons will lead to the need to create parts for its operation. Alternative navigation system will also come under the responsibility of the relevant units. The expected appearance of promising missile defense systems can have the same consequences.

For obvious reasons, the Pentagon is not in a hurry to talk in detail about the formation of a new kind of military and costs only limited data. All this does not yet allow for a sufficiently detailed picture. The process of forming a new structure in the US military has entered an active stage, and this allows us to expect new messages. A few days ago, the plans and progress of the work were told by the. Minister of Defense, and new such statements may be heard soon.

It should be noted that, despite the orders of the highest level, the Command of the US Space Forces does not yet exist and will begin work only next year. At the same time, the full-fledged work of all the elements of a new kind of military can begin even later. However, Washington is well aware of the importance of space technology in the military sphere.

Now the American military and political leadership is engaged in the creation of a separate structure capable of solving a whole range of tasks in outer space and ensuring the work of other types and types of troops. The real results of such works have not yet appeared, but are expected in the coming years. Later it will be possible to study the current state of affairs and then draw conclusions about the correctness and expediency of the decisions taken in the recent past. In the meantime, it is worth observing the actions of the United States and waiting for new messages on the development of military space.

Based on:
IISS The Military Balance 2018
Photos used:
U.S. Air Force

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  1. Grandfather
    Grandfather 25 March 2019 18: 16

    Based on:
    IISS The Military Balance 2018
    yes ... THIS, makes you think awesome ...
    KVU-NSVD 25 March 2019 18: 58
    The military should take this into account and prepare for interaction with civilian structures. By connecting non-military organizations to the work, the Pentagon will be able to expand its capabilities in space.
    In general, we are talking about the fact that it is supposed to get access to all available commercial constellations of satellites, incl. and planned, with the ability to quickly switch to any vehicle in orbit with a "light movement of the hand" by a directly interested unit on the battlefield. The goal is to negate the threat of "thinning" the enemy's satellite constellation by means of its abrupt numerical increase .. And this work is already underway. Considering that the United States and its allies now have hundreds of devices, and soon (with the launch of the "global wifi" nanosatellites) there will be thousands of them, we can say that the hope of "blind" the Americans in the event of a global conflict is becoming illusory. That is, we will be able to jam it pointwise, but we will not create serious global problems. I hope not everything will go smoothly for them, as they expect, otherwise we will have to jam everything in orbit, both someone else's and your own, with what tools - better, no one will have such advantages in communication and positioning.
    1. 17085
      17085 25 March 2019 22: 40
      How do commercial satellite networks work? Exchange always takes place through a communication node. A satellite subscriber is a subscriber, this only happens on military systems. Once again, in commercials it’s always like this ... Subscriber 1 - satellite - communication center - satellite - subscriber 2, or subscriber 1 - satellite A - ground station A - land line - ground station B - satellite B - subscriber 2. Networks and satellites darkness, but they are served by a finite number of space communications nodes. No need to jam anyone, just the FAB-250 on the antenna field of a civilian communications center and that’s all.
      It’s even easier with Russia, you turn off the switch in Australian Perth, and there is no commercial space connection with mobile stations. In the European part of the country you need to turn off a couple of knife switches.
  3. Operator
    Operator 25 March 2019 19: 32
    Quote: KVU-NSVD
    we can turn off the point

    We will suppress satellites exclusively globally - in the sense of megaton bully