Space Force’s First Orbital Warfare Exercise

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The US Space Force has announced that it will hold its first exercise of “orbital warfare” this summer, according to an official statement by Gen. Shawn N. Bratton, the head of the service’s Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM). The name given to this first of its kind exercise is ‘Red Skies’.

“How do we deal with an orbital warfare problem set? What are the challenges that faces in intelligence and command and control and operations?” he said during an online seminar sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Red Skies is one of a series of exercises developed by STARCOM to train those assigned to the Space Operations Command (SpOC), Gen. Shawn N. Bratton explained.

SpOC is the Space Force’s operational command, and its primary mission is to “protect and defend operations and providing national decision authorities with response options to deter and, when necessary, defeat orbital threats.”

“We need to make those forces ready before they go. We knew we needed a more tactical level experience to work through the specific readiness issues of each of the units, the crew force, within the SpOC. So the ‘Skies’ series was the solution,” Bratton said.

In the run up to the upcoming Red Skies, he noted, STARCOM did an experiment where “orbital warfare and aggressor units” flew the Tetra-1 experimental spacecraft, built by Millennium Space Systems, based in an orbit above the altitudes normally used by operational satellites. The satellite undertook maneuvers simulating a close approach to another satellite, known as rendezvous and proximity operations, Bratton explained, and participants had to consider the implications.

The results of that experiment are being folded into planning for Red Skies, according to reporting by Breaking Defense.