U.S. Space Force budget projected to grow $2.6 billion over the next five years

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A report submitted to congressional committees shows that the bulk of the budget growth is for the procurement of classified space systems, and very little is for personnel growth.

WASHINGTON — The budget of the U.S. Space Force is projected to growth $2.6 billion over the next five years, according to a report that Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett submitted to congressional committees last week.

Congress in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act directed the Air Force to provide an estimate of what it will cost to stand up the Space Force and fund its key programs over the next five years.

The Space Force was established on Dec. 20 under the Department of the Air Force. In its budget request for fiscal year 2021, the Air Force shifted to the Space Force $15.4 billion from accounts that were previously in Air Force appropriations. The $2.6 billion would be for additional costs over and above what was transferred from Air Force accounts.

The $2.6 billion estimate is significant because it comes close to what the Pentagon said would be the added costs of standing up a Space Force. Concerns that the Space Force would add tens of billions of dollars in costs and create a massive bureaucracy at the Pentagon was the reason many lawmakers initially opposed the establishment of a space service. DoD and White House assured lawmakers that the added costs would be about $500 million a year for the first five years.

The Feb. 25 report titled “Space Force Funding Requirements,” a copy of which was obtained by SpaceNews, shows that the bulk of the budget growth is for the procurement of classified space systems, and very little is for personnel growth.

According to the report:

  • Space Force procurement spending soars from $2.4 billion in 2021 to $4.7 billion by 2025, an increase primarily driven by the growth in classified programs, from $78 million in 2021 to $1.5 billion in 2025. Spending for National Security Space Launch would increase from $1.05 billion in 2021 to $1.9 billion in 2025 to fund 26 launches over the five years.
  • The budget for research, development, testing and evaluation (RDT&E) slightly drops from $10.3 billion 2021 to $9.7 billion in 2025.
  • Operations and maintenance grows from $2.6 billion in 2021 to $3.2 billion in 2025.
  • Personnel costs increase from $800 million 2021 to $1.1 billion in 2025.

The report does not include estimates for military construction. “As of now, the Department does not anticipate submitting a separate request for Military Construction until after basing and other decisions are completed in the future.”