WASHINGTON, March 9, 2012 — The $9.6 billion for space programs within President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2013 budget request will boost resilience for U.S. space capabilities but cut some modernization and other programs, Air Force Gen. William L. Shelton, commander of the Air Force Space Command, told a House panel yesterday.
Shelton testified on national security space activities before the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee, along with Ambassador Gregory L. Schulte, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, Gil I. Klinger, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space and intelligence, and other experts.
The president’s budget request, Shelton said, “invests in programs that enhance the resiliency and effectiveness of our space capabilities, namely missile warning, positioning, navigation and timing, satellite communications, space situational awareness and space launch.”
A 22 percent drop in the 2013 request from 2012 represents mainly “fact-of-life programmatic changes,” the general said, along with “some very difficult budget decisions leading to cuts to some modernization programs, and restructuring our approach” to the Operationally Responsive Space Office, or ORS, and the Space Test Program.
Congress established the ORS in 2007 to shorten the space acquisition cycle while responding to urgent warfighter needs. The Space Test Program has been providing access to space for the DOD space research and development community since 1965.
The command, Shelton said, also seeks to speed the acquisition process for the Advanced Extremely High-Frequency Program, a joint service satellite communications system for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets, and the Space-Based Infrared System, a key part of North America’s missile early warning and defense system.
The general said the Air Force Space Command is working closely with NASA and the National Reconnaissance Office to “bring stability and predictability to our launch programs.”
Schulte told the panel that three elements are critical to the U.S. strategy in space: resilience, promoting responsible behavior in space, and energizing the space industrial base.
Examples of resiliency, he said, include hosted payloads, commercial augmentation, international cooperation and backup capabilities in other domains.
In 2008, the European Union published a draft Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities and a revised draft in 2010.
“The EU’s draft is a promising basis for an international code,” Schulte said.
“It focuses on reducing the risk of creating debris and increasing transparency of space operations. It is not legally binding and recognizes the inherent right of self-defense. It addresses behavior rather than unverifiable capabilities and better serves our interests than the legally binding ban on space weapons proposed by others,” he added.
“As we participate in the development of an international code,” Schulte told the panel, “the department is committed to ensuring that it advances our national security.”
The ambassador said the United States could energize the space industrial base by allowing industry to compete internationally for the sale of satellites and technologies that are already widely available.
Today, some commercial satellite components reside on the Munitions List, a registry of items subject to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations because they are considered dual-use exports — those that can be used for peaceful and military ends. The State Department strictly regulates and licenses such exports.
Last year, Schulte said, the departments of Defense and State concluded that commercial communications satellites and related components, with a few exceptions, can be moved from the U.S. Munitions List to the Commerce Control List without posing an unacceptable security risk.
The forthcoming final report, he added, will identify more items that can be safely moved.
“This approach — higher fences around fewer items — will require new legislation,” he told the panel.
“Your support can help energize our industrial base and thereby enhance our national security,” Schulte added. “Giving our industrial base new commercial opportunities is particularly important at a time of defense spending constraints.”
Deputy Assistant Secretary Klinger told the panel that DOD is recapitalizing virtually all its space lines of business, “and doing so at precisely a time of sharply constrained resources and as the nation remains at war.”
The department is doing the following:
— Executing oversight earlier in the acquisition process so program managers can achieve authority to proceed early and then focus their energies on program execution.
— Using fixed-price contracts, more innovative contracting and evolutionary upgrades where those make sense.
— Pursuing a block buy for the Advanced Extremely High-Frequency 5 and 6 satellite programs and developing a plan to use the savings to improve the capability of military satellite communications overall.
“This is extremely important as we plan ahead to maintain the resources to protect our seed corn of promising technologies,” Klinger said. “We intend to use competition where and when it makes sense.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)