4th SOPS engages in Joint Airlift Exercise

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ryan Prince
  • Space Base Delta 1 Public Affairs

The 4th Space Operations Squadron from U.S. Space Force Space Delta 8 – Satellite Communications and Navigational Warfare, conducted a contingency airlift exercise for the Mobile Constellation Control Stations system Sept. 14-15, 2022, on Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado.

4th SOPS owns and operates three MCCS systems which assure survivable and endurable communications for the president, secretary of defense and strategic users throughout the spectrum of nuclear conflict.

This exercise was able to demonstrate how 4th SOPS remains ready and able to support national leadership through all levels of conflict, from anywhere in the world, in any threat environment, and at a moment’s notice.

During the exercise, a team of 12 Guardians and Airmen loaded the MCCS onto a C-17 Globemaster III. The MCCS was later airlifted to a stateside location where they conducted several days of proof-of-concept operations and exercise responses to on-orbit and ground-based threats before returning to home station.

The joint effort required coordination with the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Transportation Command and U.S. Space Command with visibility from Space Systems Command and Space Operations Command to ensure success.

As space becomes increasingly contested and degraded, the National Military Command System requires assured access to space and satellite communications. Two of 4th SOPS constellations of satellites provide this instrumental service and are controlled from two state-side fixed ground stations -- 4th SOPS at Schriever SFB, Colorado, and 148th SOPS at Vandenberg SFB, California.

“Exercises like this are important because it is a full demonstration of our ability to receive orders, deploy, and configure our system for operations,” said USSF Maj. Erica Worthy, 4th SOPS director of operations. “Being able to ‘practice like we would play’ will help us identify required areas of improvement in our processes.”

The last time 4th SOPS exercised the contingency airlift mission was in 2018, when a MCCS was airlifted to Guam and performed an extensive operational demonstration. Since then, they have facilitated system upgrades worth $5 million, and brought on an entirely new antenna system. This airlift represents the first time they have airlifted this new configuration and paves the way for a planned airlift outside the contiguous United States.

According to 1st Lt. Adam Morgan, 4th SOPS, mobile maintenance officer in charge, the MCCS compacts the mission conducted at the fixed ground stations and consolidates command and control and user management functions into a single ground and air transportable platform. If there were anything to go wrong with the fixed ground stations or if the satellites were to be isolated from them, the MCCS would be available to take control of their assets anywhere, anytime.