DoD will spend $2 billion on space control this year

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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will spend $2 billion on space control measures this year to counter emerging threats to its national security satellites, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said March 22.

The Defense Department had not previously disclosed a figure related to spending on space control, which often implies offensive space capabilities, for the current year’s budget.

In written testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, Carter said the fiscal year 2016 budget included $5 billion for new space investments. Those investments featured “over $2 billion in space control efforts to address potential threats to U.S. space systems,” he said.

“While there is much more work ahead, we are on a good path in our efforts to complicate an adversary’s ability to defeat our systems while also enhancing our ability to identify, attribute, and negate all threatening actions in space,” he said.

Defense Department leaders are concerned about China and Russia developing anti-satellite systems, jamming and electronic warfare that could render national security satellites useless. One of the key findings from the DOD’s 2014 Space Strategic Portfolio Review was that the department must be able to counter the space capabilities of adversaries that target U.S. forces. But the Pentagon rarely discusses its own offensive space capabilities or the operational details, which are classified.

The Air Force’s 2017 budget request included funding for several space control programs for the next five years. Among those programs are $144 million for the Counter Communications System, which is used to deny adversaries the use of military communications satellites in conflict, and $158 million for the Space Security and Defense Program, which develops offensive space capabilities.

In several speaking engagements over the past month, Carter has emphasized that the Defense Department asked for $22 billion for space programs. That figure includes classified and unclassified programs within the Defense Department and intelligence community.