The ability of USAF to collaborate with allies, industry, academia, and other services around a unified space mission is gaining momentum, according to a panel on interoperability in space at ASC16. Thanks in part to “strong global partnerships and alliances,” a “level of coherence at the senior decision-making level” has focused space operations around the critical category of “threat,” said Winston Beauchamp, deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for Space. Crucial in producing this missional consensus has been a shift toward thinking of space “as an operational domain” where “potential adversaries are testing capabilities against our space assets,” Beauchamp added. While admitting that challenges remain—especially in sharing information across widely varying levels of classification—Beauchamp was optimistic enough about the progress to discount the necessity of a new unified US Space Command. Such a reorganization would mean time wasted “arguing about office space instead of how to protect space,” according to Beauchamp.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.