The United States’ leadership in space is not guaranteed, and four key issues require “immediate attention” to prevent the US from falling behind, a coalition of 13 space organizations said in a white paper released Friday. Budget uncertainty, international competition, the increasingly congested and contested space environment, and workforce trends all threaten US leadership in space, the coalition wrote in the paper. In order to maintain dominance in the domain, the US government must commit to predictable budgets and repeal the Budget Control Act, continue international engagement, and “restore American access to space,” according to the paper. The US also should encourage competitive and innovative partnerships, strengthen the domestic industrial base, commit to a robust national security space program, maintain and expand internationally harmonized spectrum access for space, commit to new missions to expand the frontiers of space, promote STEM education, and reduce international trade barriers, the coalition wrote. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James in January spoke about the importance of public-private partnerships for space; Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force for Space Winston Beauchamp at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in late February said potential adversaries are well aware of US reliance on space, and that the US must improve resilience in the domain.
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.