Army could transfer missile warning capabilities to Space Ops Command: official

Developed and built by Northrop Grumman for the U.S. military, JTAGS receives and processes data from the Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) satellite constellation, including Defense Support Program and Space-Based Infrared System sensors. (SBIRS), and other infrared satellite sensors. (Northrop Grumman)

AFA 2022 – Space Force is in “early” discussions with the military to potentially take over the Army’s Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS) missile warning system and equate it to a Space Force delta , according to a senior Space Force official.

“We’re just at the very beginning,” Maj. Gen. Doug Schiess, vice commander of Space Operations Command (SpOC), said at the Air Force Association’s annual conference in Maryland.

JTAGS, built by prime contractor Northrop Grumman, receives, processes and broadcasts direct downlink infrared data from the Defense Support Program and Space Infrared System (SBIRS) infrared missile warning satellites. According to Northrop Grumman’s website, it is used to report active theater missile defense systems, as well as “attack operations assets to detect and destroy enemy launch capability.”

Additionally, JTAGS will interface with the Army’s new Integrated Combat Command System (IBCS), which is central to the service’s Convergence Project – the Army’s contribution to the joint command and control effort of all areas (JADC2) of the Ministry of Defence. This linkage was tested in March, when the IBCS successfully defeated incoming missiles in two separate flight tests at White Sands Missile Range.

Discussions between the Army and Space Force follow the August 15 formal handover of the Army’s Satellite Communications Mission (SATCOM) to the Space Force, including primary payload operations aboard the system. Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS). WGS is used by all combatant commands and nine partner nations: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, New Zealand, Czech Republic and Norway.

Schiess said the transfer involved some 300 people — soldiers and civilians who made up the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command’s 53rd Signal Battalion and SATCOM branch — to Space Force Delta 8.

“So now in Delta 8, the whole SATCOM architecture is in one Delta command and one field command to be able to do that integration,” he said. “We are already finding synergies and are able to take people out of one network and put them on another that in the past could happened, but it was much harder to do.

If and when the JTAGS transfer takes place, Schiess explained, it will “bring all of this missile warning for all theater combat commanders into one.” [Space Force Delta] as well.”

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