The thing about US military budgets is that they tend to grow, and if officials think they’ve got a good excuse, they grow precipitously. The new kid on the block, Space Force, is following the predictable trend, and is shooting for a 40% increase in their annual budget, up to $24.5 billion in 2023.
Superficially, the Space Force cited a “fast-growing array of threats” that could attack American interests “in, through, and from space,” citing the need for modernization of “legacy” programs.
More specifically, the proposal is piggy-backing on the Air Force one, which is seeking a boost in spending to “confront China.” The Space Force is focused on tracking hypersonic missiles, and protecting satellites from theoretical attacks.
A lot of the Space Force scheme is purely theoretical, and self-supporting. They put very expensive hardware of some utility in space, and then need to be bankrolled to make sure nothing happens to it.
China has been a talking point from the start, though the hypersonic missiles might also play well as something to do with Russia given the current state of hostility there.
It may seem particularly galling, however, that the nearly brand-new Space Force is already complaining that they’ve got obsolete equipment that needs to be replaced with costly alternatives. Technology changes fast in this field, and this could be an even worse money pit for the Pentagon than anyone realized.
The Air Force and Space Force budget can be read here.