U.S. Air Force wants to shift more money into JICSpOC and troubled GPS ground system
WASHINGTON – The Pentagon wants Congress to approve an additional $39 million to help develop the Air Force’s next-generation GPS ground control system and another $30 million for a high profile space battle management center used by the Defense Department and intelligence community.
Both moves are part of a 2016 budget reprogramming request the Pentagon’s comptroller, Michael McCord, submitted to Congress June 30. Reprogramming requests are a way for the Defense Department to reallocate its current budget to address urgent funding needs.
Congress appropriated $324 million for the Operational Control Segment, or OCX, for 2016. The Pentagon said ints reprogramming request the Air Force needs another $39 million to address deficiencies found during testing of the system earlier this year. Part of the money, the Pentagon said, would go to Raytheon, OCX’s prime contractor, to add staff to solve the problems.
Without the additional $39 million, OCX would be delayed an additional four months and cost $90 million more to complete, the Pentagon said. Already, the program is not expected to be complete until 2021 at the earliest.
The Air Force declared a Nunn-McCurdy breach on the OCX program June 30, triggering a set of cost-control measures that set the stage for the program’s cancellation unless the Secretary of Defense determines the program is vital to national security, no reasonable alternatives exist, and that the Air Force has a solid plan to put the project back on track.
In addition, the Air Force asked for another $30 million to support “test and experimentation environments” for the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center, or JICSpOC, located at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The JICSpOC is conducting ongoing experiments, sometimes by moving live satellites, to play out how the Defense Department and intelligence community would act during a war in space.
Congress had appropriated about $60 million for the program for 2016, but the center is a top priority for senior Pentagon leaders, including Bob Work, the deputy secretary of defense.
Other notable milspace requests included:
- A reduction of $31.7 million for the Air Force’s GPS 3 program. The Air Force said the funding was not yet needed in 2016 due to long-running technical problems with the satellite’s navigation payload, built by Harris Corp., and subsequent delays on the first two GPS 3 satellites. Congress had approved $179 million for the program.
- An additional $11 million to help transition the Air Force’s space object catalog to the new Joint Space Operations Center Mission System (JMS) software at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The new system replaces the legacy Space Defense Operations Center, or SPADOC, which Air Force officials say is dated and becoming increasingly difficult to maintain. The $11 million is aimed at weaning the Air Force from the SPADOC system. Without the new money, the Air Force said it risks a nine-month delay. Congress appropriated $74 million for the JMS. In April, the Air Force said a long-awaited update to the space-object tracking system will not be ready until at least 2018.