The U.S. Space Force’s budget request for fiscal year 2024 has raised concerns among House GOP appropriators. The request, which amounts to over $30 billion, represents a 15% increase from last year’s enacted level. However, legislators warn that the double-digit growth seen in recent years may not continue due to funding shortfalls and acquisition risks.
The House Appropriations Committee’s report on the fiscal 2024 bill highlights several serious shortfalls and disconnects in the budget request. Core programs such as the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) ground program known as FORGE, the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) site 1, and the Global Positioning System (GPS) User Equipment Increment 2 are not fully funded in the five-year budget projection. These programs are considered essential by the Space Force, and the committee expects them to be fully funded in the future.
Raytheon Technologies is responsible for the Future Operationally Resilient Ground Evolution Mission Data Processing Application Framework (FORGE MDPAF), which utilizes data from Lockheed Martin’s Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) constellation and the future Next-Generation OPIR constellation.
Northrop Grumman has completed the Critical Design Review (CDR) and a software demonstration for its DARC space domain awareness system. Space Force’s Space Systems Command has also finished the first of three CDRs for the Military GPS User Equipment (MGUE) Increment 2, with L3Harris, Raytheon, and BAE Systems developing MGUE Increment 2 under funding from MGUE Increment 1.
The House Appropriations Committee’s report emphasizes the need for full funding of these programs in the fiscal 2025 budget request. The committee also expresses concern about poor-performing acquisition programs, including the GPS Next Generation Operational Control Segment (OCX). The cost estimates for Raytheon’s GPS OCX have increased significantly, and the program is nearly seven years behind schedule.
The committee supports efforts by Space Force acquisition leaders to improve management rigor and accountability for delivering programs on schedule and within budget. They expect more frequent and timely updates on troubled programs and direct the assistant secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition and integration to provide detailed programmatic updates each quarter of the fiscal year.
These concerns and recommendations were outlined in a report by the House Appropriations Committee and highlight the need for increased funding and improved management in the U.S. Space Force’s budget and acquisition programs.