The Air Force has awarded ATK Mission Research of Santa Barbara, Calif., a $26.1 million contract to establish a space threat assessment testbed at the Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tennessee. This ground test capability is slated to be completed and functional in early 2013. “STAT will create a realistic space environment to perform developmental and early operational testing of space hardware for the Department of Defense, the National Reconnaissance Office, and other agencies against man-made threats and naturally occurring environmental phenomena,” said Col. Art Huber, AEDC commander. STAT will also lay the foundation for near real-time connectivity to a satellite operations center, enabling integrated system testing, training, tactics, techniques, and procedures development, said Lance Baxter, the project’s technical director. “It is a significant step towards the development of an important new national capability,” he said. The contract was awarded Oct. 22. (Includes AEDC report by Philip Lorenz III)
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.