WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force has successfully demonstrated the ability to control its varied space-based missile warning assets with a single ground system, which is still under development, the service said in a Feb. 27 press release.

Currently, the Air Force relies on separate ground systems for its three space-based missile warning capabilities: the legacy Defense Support Program satellites; the geostationary-orbiting Space Based Infrared System satellites; and the SBIRS sensors hosted aboard classified satellites in highly elliptical orbit. The new Mission Control Station, or Increment 2 of the SBIRS ground network development effort, will control all three systems.

The new system is “an enormous leap forward in capability and technology,” Col. Mike Guetlein, director of the remote sensing systems program office at the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, said in a prepared statement. “The system will increase the warfighter’s ability to better characterize world-wide threats, more accurately determine their launch point and impact points.”

A transition to control by the new system is expected in 2016.


Mike Gruss covers military space issues, including the U.S. Air Force and Missile Defense Agency, for SpaceNews. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.