Air Force wants $150 million for Space Force software pilot in 2021

The Air Force is staying on brand with its 2021 budget request for $150 million for a software and digital technology pilot program for the new Space Force.

software (whiteMocca/

The Air Force is seeking $150 million for a software and digital technology pilot program for the new Space Force in 2021.

The Air Force's 2021 budget request calls for research funds for a space command and control mission system software pilot to continue the service's trend of leveraging commercial capabilities for warfighter needs, according to budget documents.

The service is also looking to increase funding for several other space research projects, including in military GPS equipment (from $321 million in 2020 to $391 million to 2021) and operations control systems (from $445 million to $482 million).

The service said in budget overview documents that cybersecurity purchase power remains a key focus in upgrading networks.

"The FY 2021 budget invests in cyberspace capabilities by strengthening our network operations to provide increased cyber mission assurance with proactive defense activities and increased network situational awareness," the service wrote.

But the service's 2021 budget request also brought significant adjustments in the cyber arena. The Air Force realigned its cyberspace activities to command, control, and communication countermeasures "for clarity in reporting" for fiscal 2021.

That change moved cyber operations technology development ($12 million), cyberspace training ($4.6 million), Unified Platform ($5.0 million), defensive cyberspace operations ($60.5 million) and the cyber/cyberspace command and control mission system ($4.8 million) to its own line item from communications security equipment.

The Air Force also wants to increase the number of cyber operators on active duty (by 19) and in the Air Force National Guard (by 50), according to budget overview. It also intends to invest almost half of its base request (49% or $1.28 billion) on electronics and telecommunications equipment, a decrease from the $1.5 billion allocated for 2020.

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