Electronic warfare (EW) unexpectedly emerged as one of the key mission-shaping capabilities on the Ukrainian-Russian war’s battlefields. But, EW, as a forcing function in the evolving space warfare domain, too? You bet! Here’s a glance of the contemporary operating environment in space and what is at stake for US Space Force personnel (Guardians): the space operators must defend critical satellites and other spacecraft from electronic attacks and with good reasons, as satellites rely on electromagnetic signals for communication, navigation, and data transmission, making them vulnerable to jamming and cyberattacks.

US Space Force continues to note the increased prominence EW has in a contested space environment and has stated its intent to strengthen its Guardians’ abilities in this warfare discipline through enhanced training. On cue, this May 22, Space Systems Command (SSC) announced the command and Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) have awarded Advanced Space Technology for Range Operations - Electromagnetic Range (ASTRO-E) study contracts to six companies: Nou Systems, ExoAnalytic Solutions, TMC Design, HII Mission Technologies Corp, Parsons Government Services Inc, and Lockheed Martin. And here’s one attention-getter – as MS&T has noted in other defense training sectors, the award announcement also emphasized the awardees are incorporating significant participation from non-traditional defense companies.  

The STARCOM-SSC Operational Test and Training Infrastructure (OTTI) Integrated Program Office, in partnership with the SSC Space Enterprise Consortium Other Transaction Authority office, made the six-month, study contract awards to initiate planning for ASTRO-E enhancements to STARCOM’s National Space Test and Training Complex. These enhancements will provide ground infrastructure and on-orbit subjects for EW test and training.

Beyond this overarching construct, at the individual operator level, this latest effort also seeks to provide space warfighters with interconnected, scalable, and distributed physical and digital ranges for full-spectrum testing and training in joint and other operations.

MS&T will watch this effort evolve and comment as key milestones are achieved.  

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