US Navy to Upgrade Warships With Space-Related Capabilities
A ranking naval officer involved in space operations revealed that the U.S. Navy is poised to give its existing warships new space capabilities but stopped short of going into the technical details of the planned upgrades. Rear Adm. Michael Bernacchi, the director for strategy, plans and policy at U.S. Space Command, said that the improvements are envisioned to result in a “tremendous increase in space domain awareness capability.”
Speaking at the 36th Space Symposium recently held in Colorado Springs, Bernacchi said the plan is to upgrade more than 30 ships over the next few years to help the Navy become a formidable force in space. The upgrades will allow for “independent space domain capability,” such as tracking of objects in the background, which will add to the Navy’s overall capabilities without detracting from its traditional maritime roles, he added.
Without divulging exactly what objects the ships will track in space, the flag officer made several references to the Missile Defense Agency. He connected the planned ship upgrades to the Aegis Ashore systems, the MDA’s short to intermediate-range ballistic missile defense program, Nextgov reported Friday.
Despite the Pentagon-mandated secrecy, it was revealed that the intended upgrades to the ships and Aegis Ashore will also be integrated into the Navy’s networks, connecting ships located across the geographic combatant commands.
During the panel discussions, Bernacchi lamented that “everything is classified” about space, and said the military eventually needs to work towards a better balance. The defense press recently reported that the Pentagon has been mulling the declassification of a secret space weapon program so it can demonstrate its capabilities.
Efforts to make the top-secret weapons program more transparent are being attributed to Gen. John Hyten, the vice-chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.
Tags: Aegis Ashore Michael Bernacchi Missile Defense Agency Nextgov space Space Command Space Symposium