The United States Department of Defense has ordered a satellite constellation that will track the launches of high-speed cruise missiles. It is planned to spend USD 2.5 billion on 28 observation satellites.
The US will spend 2.5 billion on observation satellites
The US Congress has ordered an increase in funding for the Pentagon in 2022 by USD 550 million. This money will be spent on the creation and launch into orbit of satellites for tracking Chinese and Russian hypersonic cruise missiles.
We are talking about Tracking Layer Tranche 1 infrared surveillance satellites. In total, it is planned to launch 28 devices, and the money allocated this year is only part of the required amount. The total cost of the project is USD 2.5 billion.
The Ministry of Defense purchased eight satellites back in 2020. Four of them were manufactured by L3Harris and the same number by SpaceX-Leidos. But they will be launched only in 2023. It is planned that all satellites will be deployed in orbit by the end of 2025.
How relevant is tracking cruise missiles
It should be noted that, in fact, Congress was asked for USD 750 million on Tracking Layer Tranche 1. But the allocated amount is also a serious achievement. Because when considering the budget for 2022, not a single dollar was allocated for this extremely important defense project. In fact, the project was put on hold in 2020.
It is obvious that the situation was significantly changed by the bombing of Ukrainian cities. Images of what an apartment building in the center of a European city can turn into because of a cruise missile made an impression on Americans.
The Pentagon’s satellite constellation has the capability to track ballistic missile launches. But modern highly maneuverable and high-speed cruise missiles are still beyond their capacity. For now, the potential opponents of the United States have not used them massively.
The technical characteristics of the new system are not disclosed. Due to the fact that the observation satellites are infrared, it follows that night darkness and cloud cover will not be a problem for the new system. Meanwhile, now the United States needs to think about whether they will be able to shoot down all the detected missiles with the available tools.
According to Spacenews .com