The Fifth Element

Space accounts for 20 percent of the Air Force’s planned investment spending for Fiscal 2013, a reflection that the service is in the midst of a significant modernization of its on-orbit assets, said Jamie Morin, the Air Force’s acting undersecretary. Speaking Thursday at AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles, Morin said the Air Force is replacing legacy constellations like Milstar, DSCS, and DSP, and upgrading GPS. The service is trying to overcome its checkered past with regard to space program cost overruns through the Efficient Space Procurement effort, which relies on “stable funding,” “block buys,” “fixed-price incentive contracts,” and “should-cost reviews” to contain costs, said Morin. The benefits of the greater focus on affordability are yielding results in the form of “real money,” he said, crediting the service’s approach to finding $778 million in projected savings on the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite program and some $521 million in the Space Based Infrared Systems program, if Congress goes along with the approaches expected to provide those savings. “We’ve gotten good support” from Capitol Hill, he said, anticipating that Congress will approve them. Morin also said in his Nov. 15 address the Air Force is exploring cooperative projects with allies and companies for joint-use satellites and “hosted” payloads to get costs down even further. He noted, for example, how partner nations like Australia have signed on to the Wideband Global Satellite Communications program, providing funding to help procure WGS satellites in return for sharing in the constellation’s output.