The decision to delay a Pentagon-level acquisition decision for Space Fence will cost the Air Force about $70 million, according to the service's acquisition executive.
In prepared testimony presented this afternoon to the House Armed Services Committee, Bill LaPlante said holding off on an acquisition decision on Space Fence because of spending cuts, has added tens of millions of dollars to the program's cost. The delay stalls a contract award that LaPlante says could have been issued in June to no sooner than next spring -- if at all -- and pushes the space situational awareness system's initial operational capability from 2017 to 2018.
The upgraded Space Fence is poised to provide the service with a much more precise space object tracking capability and is to replace a decades-old system that the service shut down in September. LaPlante said investment in systems like Space Fence is crucial.
"Modernization is not optional; it is required to execute core missions against future high-end threats," LaPlante said. "In short, we cannot afford to mortgage the future of our Air Force and the defense of our nation."