Wilson wants the Air Force to put new assets in space that are resilient, perhaps even to the point of repelling an attack. Amid rising potential threats in space from China and Russia, Wilson and Chief of Staff David Goldfein said “our determination is to be the predator, not the prey.”
“We built exquisite glass houses in a world without stones,” Wilson said of the 77 Air Force satellites now in operation.
Resilience is key to future Air Force satellites, Wilson said. She wants the military to buy and operate satellites that are less expensive, easily replaced, maneuverable or even capable of camouflage. Goldfein emphasized that the cost-comparison of today’s satellites with that of those the U.S. needs to remain militarily superior.
“Change the cost curve so what they have to use to attack [a satellite] is actually far more expensive [than the satellite itself],” Goldfein said.
While Air Force officials never mentioned microsatellites by name, the new and tiny alternatives are both inexpensive and easily built. Goldfein noted the decreasing average weight and size of today’s satellites as an exciting trend in the space environment, even while officials did not specify if they were looking at the technology.
Future Air Force satellites are about “being able to take a punch in space,” Wilson said. The latest Air Force budget increases spending on space by $7.7 billion over the next five years, a 14 percent rise that Wilson said is “accelerating” plans to become more lethal.
What the Air Force procures “in the future must be defendable,” Goldfein said. Both he and Wilson emphasized the dependability of both the U.S. military and the world on space systems.
“The world at large is dependent on space, from getting direction to getting cash from an ATM machine or trading on the stock exchange,” Wilson said. “It’s time to go farther [in defending space, as] there is much work to be done.”