The transition to treating space like other warfighting domains is happening, but it’s still in progress, said Winston Beauchamp, deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space, on Jan. 29. “The need for improved mission assurance is not new, but the realization that we’re not currently postured to provide assured access to critical space capabilities, that’s one that’s only a couple of years old,” Beauchamp said at an AFA Mitchell Institute space breakfast on Capitol Hill. Beauchamp noted that the cost of deploying an aircraft carrier by itself is roughly five times less than sending a carrier with an air wing, support ships, and other assets to protect the carrier. “We in space have been shopping at that 80 percent off sale for the past 35 years,” Beauchamp said. “We have put together an architecture that accomplishes [the] mission very efficiently, but it will not have the capability to protect itself and be resilient in the face of [a] threat.” The Air Force is looking at several ways to increase resiliency in the space arena, Beauchamp said, including more international partners. Multilateral and international partnerships “certainly complicates any potential adversary’s targeting calculus,” he said, and in the current budget environment, it makes sense for the US to leverage capabilities that are developed and fielded by allies. “We don’t fight alone, we fight as a coalition,” he said.
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.