Up to now, the U.S. has had minimal competition in the space domain, which has allowed us to enjoy the many benefits that our space capabilities provide us including weather monitoring, GPS navigation, satellite communications, and missile warning. Our potential enemies know that we rely heavily on our space capabilities for national security and see our dependence as a vulnerability. Therefore, they are developing ways to exploit that vulnerability by disrupting and damaging our space systems. Possible threats include jamming or attacking satellites, which would interfere with vital communications and tactical intelligence, and could also disrupt signals for GPS-guided weapons.
Space Superiority Blueprint; Crucial to Resilient Space
Because space is now a warfighting domain, the need for a resilient space—the way by which the U.S. survives any space threat by defending, protecting, sustaining, and recovering our space assets—is now more important than ever. Although U.S. policy is to avoid conflict when possible, we must be prepared to defend our space assets if we are attacked. To achieve this goal, the U.S. Air Force established the Space Superiority Blueprint, a framework that prepares the Air Force Space Command for a conflict that extends into space.
The Space Superiority Blueprint is a comprehensive approach comprising several core components: the Space Enterprise Vision, the Space Warfighting Concept of Operations (CONOPS), the Space Mission Force, Resilient Architecture, Enterprise Agility, and Strategic Partnerships.
Core Components of the Space Superiority Blueprint
Space Enterprise Vision (SEV)
The SEV is a blueprint by the Air Force Space Command on how to fight and win wars in space. It requires the Air Force to regard space as a warfighting domain and be effectively prepared to respond to any space threat. The Vision’s primary goals are to prevent foreign aggression through deterrence, make the nation's space enterprises more resilient by 2030, and prevail in any conflict that extends into space. The Air Force is working with another U.S. government agency, which builds and operates the U.S.’s spy satellites, to coordinate implementing the SEV.
Concept of Operations (CONOPS)
A CONOPS is a document that outlines an overall plan for an operation. The Air Force will work collaboratively with the U.S. intelligence community, the United States Strategic Command, and other national security satellite acquisition agencies to develop a series of CONOPS that details how they expect to achieve synchronized planning and integrated operations to protect and defend our national security in space.
Space Mission Force
Made up of technically proficient warfighters, the Space Mission Force is an initiative to create a new generation of space operators with the expertise and skills necessary to combat any space communications threat. By effectively countering any physical or digital attacks, these specially trained forces will be equipped to ensure that key military satellites continue to operate during any conflict.
To combat space threats, we need to have a space defense program with a resilient architecture—meaning a program designed to stay operable, should one or more of its parts be attacked. There are six characteristics of space-resilient architecture: disaggregation, distribution, diversification, protection, proliferation, and deception. These terms refer to the diverse ways our space assets are designed to endure an attack or threat due to the dissemination of our space capabilities throughout our space defense program.
Space environments are ever evolving, so as new threats emerge and we are confronted with foreseen and unforeseen crises and problems, the entire space warfighting enterprise needs to be agile to adapt quickly and decisively. We must have the organization, training, material, leadership, personnel, facilities, and policies in place to enable rapid response and quick recovery to any space threat. The overall agility of our military space enterprise will be critical to overcoming any space warfare.
The Space Superiority Blueprint recognizes the importance of forming partnerships with agencies of the U.S. government, the commercial space sector, and our international allies to achieve our national security objectives. Developing and integrating these partnerships into our space warfighting enterprise are key to its success.
Space Superiority Blueprint Conflict Preparation and Avoidance
The Space Superiority Blueprint is a long-overdue recognition by the Air Force that the U.S. not only must protect its interests in space, we also must prepare for potential conflicts to take place there. As with all international conflicts, the hope is always for a diplomatic and peaceful resolution, but like with any other foreign threat, the U.S. is always prepared to defend its national interests against an attack—whether on Earth or in space.
General Jay Raymond, commander of the Air Force Space Command, summed it up when he introduced the concept of the Space Superiority Blueprint at the 33rd Space Symposium and why it is a necessary part of our national defense: “Let me be clear … we are not interested in getting in that fight. Nobody wins that fight, but we will be prepared for it.”