“We have been building this service from day one purpose-built to compete, deter and win against a growing threat,” said Air Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond in a news release.
Specifically, “Threats by Russia and China to deny U.S. access and capability in space make the USSF critical to national security,” former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and retired Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten said last year in a Department of Defense report.
“Russia and China are building capabilities to challenge us in space because if they can challenge us in space, they understand as dependent as we are in space capabilities that they can challenge us as a nation,” Hyten further explained.
Hyten then described how near peer adversaries are “building antisatellite weapons and other military space assets at an alarmingly fast rate… We accelerate because our adversaries are accelerating,” adding that space systems programs must also be agile and adaptable.
Raymond reiterated these concerns in a separate news release when he stated, “I’ve seen consistently in war games and exercises that adversaries understand our dependence on space and cyber, and are likely to attack them.”
On top of this, “Difficulty in attribution, combined with the tremendous speed of the space domain, provides ample incentive for an adversary to initiate attack in space,” Raymond said.
He continued detailing threats, explaining how China has satellites with robotic arms that can potentially “grab” other nations’ satellites and how Russia has a co-orbital anti-satellite weapon called the “‘nesting doll’ satellite, specifically designed to kill U.S. satellites.”
In response, the USSF continues to modernize its first offensive weapon system, the Counter Communications System (CCS). According to a Space Force news release, this system provides “quick reaction capability with direct operational support to the warfighter,” according to a Space Force press release.
Developed in partnership with L3Harris, “CCS is a transportable space [electromagnetic] warfare [EW] system that reversibly denies adversary satellite communications,” the release read.
Col. Christopher Fernengel, commander of Space Delta 3, the USSF combat formation dedicated to space electromagnetic warfare and global employment of CCS, described CCS and Space Delta 3’s mission via email.
L3Harris was awarded a contract by Space Systems Command to modernize CCS capabilities, Fernengel explained. He said according to L3Harris, these upgrades “introduce additional classified functionality” and will “reduce the operational footprint from 14 racks of equipment to three or four racks.”
Fernengel also specified how according to L3Harris, 16 systems are fielded and operated from the previous Air Force Bases: Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado, Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Fernengel also emphasized the critical partnership Space Delta 3 has with the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve when he stated, “We execute our EW missions through forces both employed in place and in expeditionary locations. Part of our strength comes from our Total Force partnership.”
In fact, the National Guard provides 60% of the USSF’s offensive space electromagnetic warfare capability as stated by Gen. Daniel Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to lawmakers in May 2021.
Fernengel then detailed in his interview how, “A majority of Space Delta 3 forward deploys to support EW fires across multiple combatant commands, providing electromagnetic attack, electromagnetic protection, and electromagnetic support capabilities for the joint force. Over the past 20 years, we have maintained a persistent overseas presence in several combatant commands.”
Fernengel concluded by affirming the criticality of EW capabilities in future conflicts stating, “All capabilities that involve the Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) are important in today’s operational environment,” because the EMS is “the foundation that fundamentally ties all domains together.”
“We, as a total EW force, wake up each day figuring out how to make our systems, enterprise, and our strongest weapons, Space Delta 3 Warriors, as lethal as possible. We ‘Step into the Arena’ every day as they compete for spectrum dominance,” Fernengel said.
In a final endorsement of the USSF defending against the latest threats is a statement by Raymond: “Bottom line, we must protect space…It underpins every instrument of national power — diplomatic, information, military and economic.”Read comments