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Space


Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability - DARC

The United States Space Force (USSF), Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), Space Domain Awareness Division, Special Programs Ground Based (SMC/SPG) is initiating a new program for a deep-space ground-based radar system under USSF responsibility. The FY02022 request for Space Force included funding for deep space advanced radar capability increases by $90 million to detect, track, and maintain custody of deep space objects.

The US wants to locate a giant new radar system in the UK to track objects in deep space. Other sites would include Texas and Australia. Each site would house from 10 to 15 parabolic antenna (large satellite dishes) for tracking and four to six for transmitting and cover an area of about 1km square. It would be able to detect an object the size of a football up to 36,000km (22,400 miles) away.

A UK Ministry of Defence spokesperson told BBC: "This new radar capability has the potential to make space safer and more secure, helping to protect our satellite system by tracking and monitoring objects. "We are exploring our potential partnership with the USA on DARC and discussions so far have been positive."

DARC will provide an affordable, capable, sensitive, & scalable next generation dedicated deep space (GEO) radar capability. It increases ability to detect, track, identify and characterize objects in deep space. DARC Technical Demonstration, underway at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), is on schedule and began risk reduction testing for DARC Program in October 2020.

Deep Space Advanced Radar Concept (DARC) will leverage ongoing defense science and technology efforts to mature radar concepts and technologies to develop and evaluate prototypes that demonstrate increased sensitivity, capacity, search rates, and scalability to detect, track and maintain custody of objects in deep space orbit. This effort will analyze and select the most promising technologies to move forward into system development and /or operations; eventually creating a program of record (PoR). DARC will augment the Space Surveillance Network (SSN) as an additional sensor with increased capacity and capability for deep space object custody at Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO).

The current and future space domain demands that space systems be responsive to new and changing threats, and can rapidly integrate new capabilities to make warfighting force more resilient in a contested battlespace. This agility, survivability, and rapid reconstitution must extend through the entire space warfighting enterprise, to include how we learn about the threat; develop solutions; acquire, test, deploy, train, operate and integrate new systems into the greater system of systems; and ensure our space mission force is ready to defeat a thinking adversary in a complex, multi-domain battlespace. The enterprise will use all of its elements to accelerate decision-making, prototype potential solutions, rapidly integrate decision-making tools and sustain a war-winning capability by delivering multi-domain effects in, from, and through space and cyberspace enabling battle management and resilience options to "fight through."

This program element may include necessary civilian pay expenses required to manage, execute, and deliver the DARC weapon system capability. The use of such program funds would be in addition to the civilian pay expenses budgeted in program elements 1206392F and 1206398F. The FY2019 funding request was reduced by $10.000M to account for the availability of prior year execution balances. This program is in Budget Activity 4, Advanced Component Development and Prototypes (ACD&P) because efforts are necessary to evaluate integrated technologies, representative modes or prototype systems in a high fidelity and realistic operating environment.

Project utilizes existing DoD engineering and study contracts and activities to conduct science and technology development and data analysis activities. Preliminary/ critical design effort commenced in FY 2017. Broad agency announcement forms DARC Integrated Systems Engineering Team (ISET). Following CDR down-selects, DARC prototype build, test & determination will occur. DARC PoR will be a full and open industry competition.

In FY 2018 the program awarded DARC Prototype design contracts to three developers. Conduct design through critical design review (CDR). Post CDR, use a pre-established set of down-select criteria and select one Developer to build the DARC Prototype radar. Award DARC Prototype build contract. Purchase antennas, prepare to bed down receivers and transmitters assets at the DARC Prototype site on White Sands Missile Range (WSMR). Award Integrated Systems Engineering Team (ISET) contracts to industry based on FY17 Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) competition conducted by Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). Continue AFRL oversight of the DARC Prototype build and initial infrastructure at the WSMR site. Develop software phase/timing software for the DARC receive and transmit subsystems. Continue program office support and other activities that may include, but are not limited to studies, technical analysis, etc

At the 26 March 2019 Air Force Review Board (AFRB), SAF/AQ designated the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) as a Middle Tier of Acquisition (MTA) activity under the 2016 NDAA Section 804 procedures. DARC Program Office will leverage the Johns Hopkins University Advanced Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) design and expertise gained from the DARC Technical Demonstration (DARC-TD) activity at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), allow for innovation, and will result in a streamlined Initial Operating Capability (IOC).

The DARC program Middle-Tier Acquisition (MTA) pathway to include Rapid Prototyping followed by Rapid Fielding, and is expected to provide 24/7, all-weather capabilities that increases the ability to detect, track, identify and characterize objects in deep space. DARC offers higher sensitivity, better accuracy, increased capacity, and more agile tracking than current radars capable of tracking objects at geosynchronous earth orbit altitudes. The 24/7 all-weather capability and higher radar power at geostationary orbit is an advantage over current radar and optical sensors. DARC offers the ability to track launches to geosynchronous orbit altitudes. If fielded, the program requires three permanent, geographically dispersed sites, of which the locations are yet to be determined.

The Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) program management team hosted an Industry Day Conference and One-on-One meetings on 16 - 17 March 2020. This initial Industry Day Conference will provide interested parties an overview of the DARC Government Reference Architecture (GRA), program history, initial requirements, potential acquisition strategies, tentative program schedule, and small business and Public Private Partnership (PPP) objectives.

The United States Space Force, Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), Special Programs Directorate, Space Domain Awareness Division (SMC/SPG), hereby announced 14 April 2021 that the DARC Acquisition will be procured as an Other Transaction Authority (OTA) through SMC’s Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC).

Publicity surround DARC elicited a surprisingly aharp response from Beijing. An unsigned editorial [that is, representing official Communist Party of China policy] 18 July 2021 in Global Times stated "It is a significant escalation that has the potential to further change the direction of global military competition. The head of the Royal Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Wigston, has bluntly predicted the next war could be won or lost in space. The primary purpose of the US and its allies in developing DARC is obviously to prepare for winning a war and to deter China and Russia.... China and Russia must strongly oppose the US' efforts to extend the military competition among major powers into space and oppose its attempts to construct DARC with its allies. China and Russia need to expose the US' shameless practice to further develop space warfare capabilities by hyping the so-called space threat from China and Russia. If the US adheres to such moves, China and Russia should take countermeasures, in a bid to strategically frustrate the US' ambitious plan.

"... it is much more difficult for the US to achieve hegemony in space than that on land and at sea. If the US dares to attack the space assets of China and Russia, the two countries can inflict the same loss on the US. Washington cannot develop the ability to unilaterally occupy outer space and close it to China and Russia. ... by deploying DARC, the US can expand its lead in SSA [space situational awareness]. It will reinforce the impression that it "controls everything" through hegemony, consolidate its allies' confidence, and make vacillating countries and forces further yield to it.

"The US vision to build DARC has particularly sounded the alarm for China. China's space launch capabilities are getting stronger, and the country is increasing the frequency of its various space activities including efforts on a space station. The US is openly threatening the safety of these activities of China, speeding up the pace of constructing infrastructure and building certain capabilities to dominate the future space order. China must accelerate the building of its space counterattack capability and form a stronger deterrent to the US, in an attempt to resolutely suppress any impulse of the US to provoke a space conflict."




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Page last modified: 06-09-2021 16:49:54 ZULU