Gen. John Hyten, the commander of Air Force Space Command, announced the command’s Space Enterprise Vision April 12 at Peterson Air Force Base. The SEV is the result of an AFSPC-commissioned study that looked at how to make the nation’s national security space enterprise more resilient.
The August 2015 SEV study addressed the findings of several previous studies that identified the U.S. space enterprise is not resilient enough to be successful in a conflict that extends to space. The SEV also recognizes that acquisition and programmatic decisions can no longer occur in mission area stovepipes, but must instead be driven by an overarching space mission enterprise context.
“In the recent past, the United States enjoyed unchallenged freedom of action in the space domain,” Hyten said. “Most U.S. military space systems were not designed with threats in mind, and were built for long-term functionality and efficiency, with systems operating for decades in some cases. Without the need to factor in threats, longevity and cost were the critical factors to design and these factors were applied in a mission stovepipe. This is no longer an adequate methodology to equip space forces.”
The SEV accounts for the increasing threat to space systems, and provides a vision for how the Air Force should build a force responsive to that threat. The vision describes an integrated approach across all space mission areas, coupling the delivery of space mission effects to the warfighter (such as communications, positioning, navigation and timing, missile warning and weather data) with the ability to protect and defend space capabilities against emerging threats.
Consistent with U.S. National Space Policy, the vision enhances U.S. space forces’ ability to deter others from interference and attack, defend our space systems if deterrence fails and contribute to the defense of allied space systems.
“The future space enterprise will maintain our nation’s ability to deliver critical space effects throughout all phases of conflict,” Hyten said. “Operating as an enterprise as opposed to a set of independent platforms improves resiliency and is critical to the ability to survive and deliver effects in a contested environment.”
Since the study was commissioned, AFSPC and the National Reconnaissance Office have worked together to incorporate principles of the NRO vision as well, with additional work ongoing to fold in the remaining facets of the Defense Departments’ space capabilities and the key linkages with the intelligence community.
“Ultimately, the SEV must incorporate requirements from across the U.S. government’s space enterprise,” Hyten said. “By incorporating interagency space visions, the SEV will fold requirements into a single-enterprise vision that addresses the unique needs of each agency.”
To guide the development of this future enterprise, the SEV proposes using a new optimizing concept called “resilience capacity” to characterize and evaluate space capabilities. Resilience capacity will measure how well space enterprise forces can respond to the full range of known threats, and how quickly they can adapt to counter future threats, while continuing to deliver space effects to joint and coalition warfighters. It will replace the traditional “functional availability” metric used for decades to plan and manage individual constellations, but which does not account for emerging threats.
“The future space enterprise will be built by changing how we architect, develop, acquire, and operate our space systems,” Hyten said. “Going forward, we will rigorously focus on a clear definition of warfighter requirements with programs acquired using greater horizontal integration across the space enterprise. We will also move toward shorter program life cycles and decreased time between constellation updates, which improves the availability of new technology on-orbit.”