Kendall: The increased funding for the Space Force demonstrates the importance of space in security strategy

In a keynote address at the 37th Space Symposium on April 5, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said that increasing billions of dollars to the Space Force’s budget was a vital move at a time when key U.S. satellites are considered possible targets for foreign attacks.

“You might have noted that the Space Force demand is 40% more than last year,” Kendall remarked of the Biden administration’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal.

He stated, “This is not proof of bureaucratic achievement.  It’s a nod to the Space Force’s importance and the capabilities it provides.”

The Space Force is budgeted at $24.5 billion in the Pentagon’s $773 billion budget request. The budget of the Space Development Agency, which will be transferred from the Office of the Secretary of Defense to the Space Force later this year, is included in this spending. In 2023, the Space Force and SDA budgets are roughly $5 billion higher than what Congress approved in 2022.

The additional funds are needed to “change our capabilities in space to address our pacing challenging problem: China, China, China,” according to Kendall.

According to Kendall, China recently launched what seemed to be a partial orbital bombardment system using a hypersonic glide vehicle. “This act revealed a capacity that poses a new and troubling threat to strategic stability.”

“We perceive an increasing threat to America’s ability to deploy power to prevent aggression and, if necessary, protect our interests and friends,” Kendall warned. That power projection is enabled by space-based technologies and services, he added. “Our satellites are increasingly vulnerable,” Kendall stated, “from direct ascent anti-satellite to other sorts of co-orbital weapons.” In 2023, “we are proposing money for resilient missile warning as well as tracking capabilities, as well as, with SDA, the first incarnation of a communications infrastructure that will serve the combined force in any battle.”

SDA is developing the first low-earth orbit megaconstellation for the US military, with a Tracking Layer to identify and monitor missile threats as well as a Transport Layer to transport targeting data and other essential information to clients anywhere on the planet.

“The plain fact is that the US cannot successfully project power unless its space-based services are durable enough to withstand attack,” Kendall said. “Equally true, if our adversary’s space-based logistical support systems, particularly targeting systems, are permitted to function with impunity, our terrestrial forces will not be able to live or complete their tasks.” “Over the next several years, the Space Force will be able to create a proliferating, multi-orbit, disaggregated architecture,” he added, referring to the funding proposal for 2023.

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