Biden’s 2023 defense budget adds billions for US Space Force

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall: “This budget is driven by the threat”

WASHINGTON – President Biden’s $773 billion budget proposal for the Department of Defense for fiscal 2023 includes $24.5 billion for the US Space Force — $7 billion more than what the White House announced in 2022 has requested.

The White House on March 28 unveiled the President’s funding proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins October 1.

The proposed $773 billion gives the Pentagon $17 billion more than what Congress approved for 2022.

“Space is critical to U.S. national security and an integral part of modern warfare,” the White House said in a budget summary document. “The budget preserves America’s advantage by improving the resilience of US space architectures to strengthen deterrence and increase survivability during hostilities.”

The Defense Department said the 2023 budget supports a national defense strategy that recognizes China “as our key strategic competitor and Russia as an acute threat to the interests of the United States and its allies.”

Congress in 2022 added more than $1 billion to the Space Force and Space Development Agency budgets. Biden’s 2023 proposal would be nearly $6 billion above what Congress decided to do.

The 2023 increase includes $1 billion transferred from the Air Force to the Space Force military personnel account and approximately $1.5 billion transferred from the Space Development Agency accounts to the Space Force budget Force were transferred. The bulk of the increase will go to Space Force research, development and procurement budgets. The Space Development Agency will be transferred from the Secretary of Defense’s Office to the Space Force later this year and the budget has been realigned accordingly.

Breakdown of Space Force’s $24.5 billion budget:

  • $3.6 billion for procurement of satellites and launch services
  • $4 billion for operations and maintenance (including 4.6% pay increase for civilian staff)
  • $15.8 billion for research, development and testing
  • $1 billion in staffing costs for 8,600 active duty guardians

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said the anti-satellite capabilities of adversaries like Russia and China require the Department of Defense to invest in advanced space systems. “That budget is driven by the threat,” he told reporters.

There was a time when the United States “could put costly systems in space without bothering to do it. That era is over, it’s been over for a while,” Kendall said.

Early warning satellites, which use infrared sensors to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles, received a significant funding boost:

  • Funding for next-generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next Gen OPIR) geosynchronous and polar satellites increased to $3.4 billion in 2023 from $2.4 billion in 2022
  • The Space Development Agency’s Tracking Layer Tranche 1, a constellation of 28 infrared sensor satellites, will receive $1 billion in 2023. The Pentagon has not requested funding for the tracking layer in 2022, but Congress has committed $550 million. The tracking layer will be used in low Earth orbit to detect and track Russian and Chinese hypersonic missiles.
  • Two Global Positioning System satellites are budgeted at $761 million.
  • A classified satellite communications program called Evolved Strategic Satcom gets $566 million — $406 million more than last year.

The 2023 budget includes $1.1 billion for three National Security Space Launches (NSSL) and $314 million for the launch of three batches of Space Development Agency satellites into low Earth orbit. SDA plans to launch the transport layer in batches of 21 satellites and the tracking layer in batches of 14 satellites.

The Space Force National Security Space Launch Program office, led by Space Systems Command, has negotiated with the Space Development Agency for a more competitive price closer to commercial prices than traditional NSSL missions.

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