The Senate Appropriations Committee approved significant cuts to the U.S. Air Force’s 2007 budget request for two new satellite constellations, all but assuring that the service will receive less than it had hoped for on those efforts, but still more money for each program than it received in the 2006 budget.
Voting July 20, the Senate committee approved a bill that would cut the administration’s 2007 budget request for the Space Radar and Transformational Satellite (T-Sat) Communications System programs even more than the House of Representatives did when approving its version of the bill June 20.
The Senate committee reduced the administration’s $867 million request for T-Sat to $637 million, which is $130 million less than the House provided for the new communication satellites, which are intended to help meet the Pentagon’s growing thirst for bandwidth in the next decade through measures including laser cross links and Internet Protocol. The 2006 budget for the T-Sat program is $429 million.
The committee reduced the Pentagon’s $266 million 2007 budget request for the Space Radar program to $166 million. The House version of the bill would provide $200 million for the Space Radar effort in 2007. The 2006 budget is $98 million.
The goal of the Space Radar program is to provide the Pentagon with high-resolution radar satellite imagery and spot moving targets on the ground.
The Senate committee stated in a report accompanying its bill that in the case of both T-Sat and Space Radar , the requested funding ramped up too sharply over the previous year to be spent effectively.
The House and Senate will meet later this year to hammer out the differences between their appropriations bills. Maj. Regina Winchester, a spokeswoman for the U.S . Air Force, said service officials would not comment on the projected impact of the reductions to the budget request before the final budget is approved.
The Senate Appropriations Committee also cut more than the House did from the Missile Defense Agency’s budget request for the Space Tracking and Surveillance System missile tracking satellites. The committee reduced the $391 million request to $316 million, $8 million less than the House provided in its version of the bill. The current budget for the Space Tracking and Surveillance System is $231 million. The Pentagon plans to launch two experimental satellites under the program in 2007 .
Both the House and Senate Appropriations committees stated in reports accompanying their bills that their reductions to the administration’s 2007 budget request for the Space Tracking and Surveillance System were intended to curtail advance work on a follow-on operational satellite constellation that is expected to be launched around 2012. Both bills noted that advance design work on the operational Space Tracking and Surveillance System satellites is premature in advance of the launch of the experimental satellites.
The Senate appropriators also reduced the Missile Defense Agency’s 2007 budget request for the Kinetic Energy Interceptor with the intent of steering funding towards systems that can provide more near-term capability. That decision mirrors a recommendation that was included in the Senate’s version of the Defense Authorization Act, which passed June 22.
The Senate appropriators reduced the Missile Defense Agency’s $406 million request for the Kinetic Energy Interceptor by $200 million. The House had fully funded the 2007 request for the program. The current budget for the Kinetic Energy Interceptor program is $209 million.
The Kinetic Energy Interceptor is a high-speed rocket intended to knock down enemy missiles shortly after takeoff. The Pentagon plans to flight test the system’s booster in 2008 before deciding whether to continue development of the program.
In an effort to beef up funding for programs designed to deliver new missile defense capabilities in the near term, the Senate Appropriations Committee added $227 million to the Missile Defense Agency’s $2.8 billion 2007 request for the Ground Based Midcourse Defense System.
The House had trimmed the request for the Ground Based Midcourse Defense System to $2.76 billion. The current budget for the program is $2.4 billion.
The Senate appropriators also added $108 million to the Missile Defense Agency’s request of $1.03 billion for the Aegis sea-based missile defense program in 2007. The House had added $30 million to the budget request. The current budget for the Aegis missile defense program is $915 million.