Air Force estimates Space Force cost at $13 billion for first 5 years


Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Pork! Air Force has now released its first estimate for establishing a Space Force, with an estimated cost of $13 billion for first five years.

A copy of the Air Force memo was obtained Monday by The Associated Press. The memo says the first-year cost of a Space Force would be $3.3 billion, and the cost over five years would be an estimated $12.9 billion.

As I have said, this is nothing more than pork. At this stage all that needs to happen is a reorganization that would put all space activities in a single office in the Air Force. This is also what the Air Force has wanted to do. Creating a whole new military branch at this time is overkill, and will merely result in too much bureaucracy, for only one reason, to spend money.

Share

10 comments

  • Col Beausabre

    The drawback is that if you put all military space under the USAF is that the other services will be neglected. Look at the long and tragic history of close air support for the ground troops. Totally ignored for a quarter century (In Korea captured Communist troops expressed disdain for US air power – except for the “blue airplanes” ie:: the Marines), the most effective CAS bird in Vietnam was the ancient (designed in WW2) piston engined A-1 that was built for the USN and transferred as the AF had nothing comparable. It finally took threats from the Army chief of staff that if the AF wasn’t interested in doing its job, to turn the mission over to the army and we would do it – the Air Corps reborn! The army backed it up when it started testing A-4’s and the Fiat G-91 “Gina” (after Miss Lollobrigida). Congress and DOD told the zoomies to get on the stick or else which that put the Fear of God into the guys in light blue and the AX (which led to the A-10) program was born. And the USAF has spent the 40 years trying to get rid of the A-10 in favor of something sexier (or nothing). So we don’t trust the USAF to adequately address our needs.

  • Tom Billings

    If the AF had a history of prioritizing MilSpace “force multipliers”, then keeping MilSpace inside the AF would work.

    The USAF has no such history since General Schreiver retired in the 1960s.

    For 15 years the priorities of the Air Staff have led them to “reprogram” funds from Space Command to their traditional task of getting enough money to keep more than 50% of fighter squadrons combat ready. There have been continual advances since 2007 in testing of Russian and Chinese counter-space asset programs. The Air Staff has throttled the 2 major immediate changes needed to address those counter-asset technologies, by funding reprogramming and low priority.

    The first is to break away from the “battlestar” concepts of the NRO, in which small numbers of long-lived and very expensive satellites are deployed, instead of many more assets that can do as much collectively, but are far cheaper and far more difficult to disable at a catastrophic rate. The second is to establish a “responsive launch” capability, known to be needed since the 2007 PLA ASAT test. This would replace disabled assets in LEO in 72 hours or less. That, combined with the replacement of the “battlestar” satellite systems with capability distributed through thousands of assets instead of the current 164 in use, would make it far harder to leverage a US backdown in a confrontation, by threatening the few platoons of satellite systems we have today.

    Later, as the ability of our opponents grows, we will face their ability to disable the “responsive launch” assets nearly as fast as they could soon do to the present “battlestar” systems we have on-orbit today. IMHO, a competent US response will be to establish mobile facilities far beyond LEO and GEO to assemble and deliver new assets closer to Earth. My suggestion would be facilities orbiting EML-1, between the Earth and the Moon.

    This combination would stretch the amount of time needed to disable US MilSpace assets from hours to months. Fighting US forces for months with our MilSpace “force multipliers” intact and in use is a *very* long time, longer than anyone has done since they were in place. This status would be a large reinforcement to deterring conflict with the US.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Given that USAF is vigorously opposed to the creation of a U.S. Space Force, it’s no surprise that their “estimate” of its setup costs is absurdly high. NASA’s half-trillion dollar estimate of cost for a manned Mars mission during the presidency of Bush 41 was a similar effort at preemptive sowing of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt aimed at killing off a strongly disfavored proposal.

  • commodude

    Frankly, the entire DoD bureaucracy needs to be restructured in the same manner as the personnel departments for civilian agencies.

    The military doesn’t need 4 Medical commands, doesn’t need 4 personnel commands, ad nauseum. The specialties can continue to be handled by each branch, but the logistics and support structures need to be unified and the redundant commands eliminated to allow the tooth to tail ratio to go back towards something manageable. There’s no new need for a new force and another bureaucratic boondoggle, just define the mission, budget for it, and place it within the existing force structure.

    No more Key West accords to create more feifdoms within DoD.

  • Edward

    commodude wrote: “The military doesn’t need 4 Medical commands, doesn’t need 4 personnel commands, ad nauseum.

    One of the arguments for a separate Space Force is to separate acquisitions from the regular Air Force acquisitions. Many of the DoD’s acquisitions groups do not use rapid development and purchase methods, but this is what is desired for the Space Force.

    Space technologies are advancing quickly, and one advantage of relatively inexpensive but short-lived small satellites is that the new technologies can be incorporated almost as quickly as they advance. Current acquisition methods depend upon development of all the technologies for large satellites with long lead times, which is one reason why SBIRS took almost two decades, much longer than expected, to replace the older and obsolete early warning system.

    Similar problems occur with other military projects, such as the Joint Strike Fighter.

    The argument is that a different acquisitions group with different methods of operation — optimized for the needs of space rather than for air, water, or land forces — will do a better job for our space assets than is happening now.

    I tend to believe that separate acquisitions is the major advantage of a separate Space Force rather than incorporating the same duties within the Air Force. If they don’t optimize acquisitions, then separating these forces is probably an expensive exercise in futility.

  • wodun

    About $2 billion a year and to think people were complaining that it would be expensive. The money is supposed to come from the existing budgets of the other services.

    There was another article that gave a quote that came off as the AF trying to help Trump but that what is proposed to take place wasn’t exactly what Trump wanted so they shouldn’t do anything without Congress voting to create a new branch of the military. IOW, a turf battle.

    Russia and China both have military space commands and it is time for us to prepare to compete with our adversaries. The new command will attract a lot of competent people and get them doing something socially responsible rather than designing social media products.

  • wodun: I should point out that SpaceX estimates it will cost $5 billion total to develop BFR. Though that number might go up, it gives us some perspective about how bloated this Space Force will be. By your estimate, $2 billion per year for an office.

    Can I get half that? I promise I can do the same thing, while probably making about half a billion in profit.

  • commodude

    Edward,

    Certain small, specialist components of each branch have the ability to acquire needed equipment rapidly without the cumbersome bureaucracy involved with such boondoggles as the JSF.

    The commands which fall under JSOC have the ability to purchase needed equipment through streamlined channels, and even the Army has responded to the requirements of the modern battlefield and rapid technology shifts through the RFI (rapid fielding initiative) process.

    The entire acquisition process needs a revamp, but the need for rapid acquisition of emerging and changing technologies can be accomplished through (and at times in spite of) the current command structure.

  • pzatchok

    Drones are making satellites useless in the battle field.

    First the only good satellite that the battle field could use is one in geosynchronous orbit.
    No one wants to wait hours for a spy satellite to fly over the target area. that is old school.
    Just launch a high altitude drone from close by. It can provide down looking surveillance and relay communication. Cheaper and launchable from roads and runways. Add in balloons.

    Replacing satellites from a battle field perspective is a waste of effort, time and money. Your only putting another target you can not defend back into a defenseless place.

    The only two things the military needs space launch capability for it to place spy satellites into space long before the war starts, and as a weapon launch vehicle. A satellite killer system/weapon.

    Please stop thinking that its the governments job to protect civilian satellites in space.
    Its not the militarizes job to protect all civilian ships at sea so why would it be their job to protect civilian satellites?
    its their job to protect the shipping lanes and keep them open to our shipping. So it would be their job to stop other nations from stopping our civilians from going to space. Not protecting our stuff in space.

  • Edward

    pzatchok,

    You wrote: “First the only good satellite that the battle field could use is one in geosynchronous orbit.” Etc.

    The military has a different opinion on most of your comment. The military has missions for field-launched drones, but it also depends very heavily on space assets, especially for communication and GPS functions, and the Chinese and Russians know this. The military is concerned that enemies may be able to disable the space assets that they, the military, depend upon to execute their plans.

    You asked: “Its not the militarizes job to protect all civilian ships at sea so why would it be their job to protect civilian satellites?

    Actually, that is the primary purpose of any navy. Without navies, pirates would run rampant on the seas. Even with navies, piracy is too prevalent around the Persian Gulf region. What you may have meant to say is that navies are not able to closely guard each ship on the seas, but a space force would not be required to closely guard each civilian satellite, either, just to provide for a common defense of the civilian satellites.

    Preventing invasion — protecting civilian businesses and houses on land — is a secondary, less often needed, purpose of a navy. Once again, the military does not protect each business and house, but it protects them in general; it provides for a common defense.

    Just as it is our military’s job to protect our people and property on land, on the seas, and in our skies, it is currently the Air Force’s job to protect our property in space. It says so right in the Preamble of the Constitution: “… provide for the common defence …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *