The US Air Force (USAF) Undersecretary Eric Fanning has presented the 2015 air force space programme budget in a media briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, US.

The air force is planning to acquire three launch services and to launch ten missions in 2015, in addition to continuing the evaluation and certification of potential new entrants.

Specifically, the 2015 president’s budget removes funding for seventh and eighth advanced extremely high frequency (AEHF), but funds the evolution of AEHF tactical and strategic capabilities, and weather satellite follow-on to the defense meteorological satellite program (DMSP).

The request continues testing of the final DMSP launch through 2015, to serve as a backup to the DMSP F19 launch in April of this year, while solidifying long-term stable commitments for the evolved expendable launch vehicle (EELVA) programme yielding significant contract savings while aggressively pursuing competitive new entrant opportunities.

Fanning said the air force must continue investment in material and non-material solutions that ensure the availability of space capabilities even in anti-access, area-denial environments, in a bid to maintain freedom of movement in a contested domain.

Apart from re-profiling the GPS-III programme, the budget also funds the Space Fence with a 2018 initial operating capability, the family of advanced beyond line-of-sight terminals (FAB-T) to achieve presidential and national voice conferencing initial operating capability in 2019.

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"The air force has invested more than $100bn in cutting edge space capabilities over the past 16 years."

However, the service would have to decrease funding in weather satellite follow-on, GPS-III and space-based satellite surveillance follow-on programmes, if the Budget Control Act (BCA) level cuts are re-imposed in 2016 and beyond, according to Fanning.

"Further, we would be unable to procure one of the three GPS-III satellites planned in FY17 and four counter communication Systems units being procured for the Air National Guard," Fanning said.

The air force has invested more than $100bn in cutting edge space capabilities over the past 16 years.

Image: US Air Force UnderSecretary Eric Fanning presents the 2015 Air Force space program budget at the Pentagon. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force Scott M. Ash.

Defence Technology