Space Fence Developments

The United States Air Force (USAF) has included provisions for the full funding of the first increment of the service’s Space Fence space debris tracking system as part of its Fiscal Year 2014 (FY2014) budget proposal.

The unclassified budget proposal states that $400.3 million ($527.60) in research and development funds for Space Fence will be requested. This figure also covers the development of a C-band radar in conjunction with Australia.

Both Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are competing to construct Space Fence which replaces the existing Air Force Space Surveillance System. Space Fence will use S-band radars to track up to 200,000 targets, including those as small as a tennis ball in size, at a range of up to 1,930 kilometres (1,042 nautical miles).

The value of the Space Fence contract is estimated at €3 billion ($4 billion), and the system is expected to be declared operational in circa 2017. On 28th September 2012 the USAF revealed that the first radar will be constructed on Kwajalein Island, part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Radar imagery from the Space Fence will be relayed to the United States Strategic Command’s Joint Function Component Command for Space at Vandenburg Air Force Base, California.

Although the allocation of funding for the programme in FY2014 seems likely, Space Fence could still be vulnerable to cuts during the following fiscal year.

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