Members of the Space Force’s 16th Space Control Squadron put their heads together to figure out the features they’d want on a mobile spectrum monitoring tool to detect electromagnetic interference, and they’re building the system themselves.
Described as experimental, the Multiband Assessment of the Communications Environment, or MACE, can load up onto a single aircraft pallet. Once it’s in the field, no one need stick around—the Guardians have designed it to run remotely and for linked MACE systems to ferry data from one to the next.
The squadron is part of Space Operations Command’s Space Delta 3, which is dedicated to space electronic warfare. Space Delta 3’s headquarters is at the Peterson-Schriever Garrison, Colo.
Paying for the project with “delta innovation funding,” the creators—Tech. Sgt. Vince Couch and Master Sgt. Robert Hicks III—wanted MACE to be able to deploy quickly to tough places, according to a news release. Their design incorporates a Giggasat FA-150 antenna to “aid in detecting and identifying electromagnetic interference.”
“Due to its small size, MACE has the ability to significantly cut down on deployment timelines while increasing the ability to access challenging deployment environments,” Tech Sgt. John Idleman, the squadron’s mission assurance engineer, said in the release. “MACE can be deployment ready in one day following ops checks.”
The squadron stated that the spectrum monitoring tool could help the Space Force “compete in strategic competition.”
“It is truly a story of grassroots innovation at the tactical level,” said the squadron’s commander of operations Maj. Kevin Aneshansley in the release. Members “worked hard to think outside the box to develop a capability that could inform defensive space electromagnetic solutions.”
The Space Force has flagged the prospect of electromagnetic warfare as “a tremendous risk to the viability of military spacepower,” according to the service’s “Space Capstone Publication: Spacepower Doctrine for Space Forces.”
In addition to detecting interference, the command causes it. Space Delta 3’s 4th Space Control Squadron operates the Counter Communications System Block 10.2, which went into service in 2020, and is the service’s “first offensive weapon.”