WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force is taking steps to bridge the gap between technology developers and operators, Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman announced Oct. 13.

The Space Force will establish new “system delta” units in an effort to increase collaboration between units that use equipment and those that develop and acquire it, Saltzman said in a memo to the entire force.

The plan reflects Saltzman’s view that guardians operating satellites and ground systems should inform requirements for new systems and provide feedback during procurement.

The system delta concept is the second phase of a reorganization that Saltzman unveiled last month. Under a pilot program, the Space Force set up two integrated mission deltas — units overseeing all aspects of a mission area like training, procurement, and operations. One of the units will focus on electronic warfare and the other on positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) satellites. 

The new system deltas — aligned under the Space Systems Command — will work alongside the integrated mission deltas.

Goal to create feedback loop

As Saltzman explained, these new units will “directly complement integrated mission deltas by developing, acquiring, and fielding capability that satisfies operational needs.” For example, the electronic warfare mission delta can collaborate with its system delta counterpart, creating a feedback loop between users and developers.

The goal is to sync technological advancement with real-time operator input. The two provisional integrated mission deltas were formally established October 12 under the Space Operations Command. The system deltas will follow in the coming months.

Saltzman noted this closer linkage between operators and acquirers is “essential to the Space Force’s effort to forge a service built for great power competition.” He said “old ways of doing business will not produce the results we need” and this new structure can “accelerate the development, fielding, and presentation of combat-ready forces.”

The delta prototypes address just two missions for now but could expand to others in the future, a Space Force spokesperson told SpaceNews. The concept will be tested using existing personnel and resources, without relocating units or altering core Space Operations and Space Systems missions.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...