Space Delta 2 strengthens SDA partnership with Japanese radar operators during two-part visit

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  • By SBD1 Public Affairs

In an ongoing effort to enhance space domain awareness capabilities between partnered nations, seven operators from the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force, Space Operations Group, 1st Space Operations Squadron, visited multiple units belonging to U.S. Space Force’s Space Delta 2 – Space Domain Awareness and Space Battle Management, Jan. 29 - Feb. 2, 2024.

The visit follows DEL 2 leadership’s recent trip to Fuchu, Japan, during which U.S. Space Force Col. Raj Agrawal, commander of DEL 2, met with JASDF Col. Kimitoshi Sugiyama, commander of SOG, to reaffirm both countries’ commitment to safe and sustainable space activities through the continued sharing of space situational awareness data.

The JASDF operators kicked off their visit at Eglin Air Force Base with informational briefs from the 20th Space Surveillance Squadron. The operators gained a deeper understanding on how DEL 2 conducts SDA and SBM from both the squadron’s radar and tasking units.

The delegation also received an unclassified mission brief of Del 2’s AN/FPS-85 Phased Array Radar and the ways the squadron trains and prepares its radar operators.

Referred to as one of the strongest radar systems in the U.S. military, AN/FPS-85 can detect, track, and identify up to 200 spacecraft simultaneously while also tracking objects the size of a basketball in geosynchronous orbit at a range of 35,000km.

Members from 20 SPSS briefed the delegation on how DEL 2, an operational organization that executes multiplatform, tactical space domain characterization and responsiveness to achieve DEL 2 and USSPACECOM warfighting intent, offers its personnel, equipment, and capabilities to the combatant command, under the USSF force generation construct, or SPAFORGEN.

“This visit marks a significant milestone in our ongoing commitment to secure our nation’s defense,” said U.S. Space Force Lt. Col. Richard Fancher, commander of 20 SPSS. “Our alliance with the Japanese Air Self- Defense Force not only enhances our collective capabilities but also strengthens the foundation of trust and cooperation that is essential for safeguarding our shared interests in space.”

On day two, the delegation observed a demonstration of the AN-FPS-85 simulator, to include an in-depth display of tactical mission planning and debriefing.   

"The simulator demonstrations allowed the delegation to get a firsthand look at how 20 SPSS conducts day-to-day operations,” said Capt. Nicholas Clark, weapons and tactics flight commander for 20 SPSS. “This demonstration included a mission plan, execution, and debrief of the scenario. I think the delegation learned valuable lessons about how to plan as a team and execute tactical space operations."

Following the delegation’s time at Eglin AFB, the DEL 2 tour continued at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, with a tour of the 18th Space Defense Squadron and the SDA Partnership and Coalition Engagement Office.

Similar to their time at Eglin AFB, operators from 1 SOPS, 18 SDS and 19th Space Defense Squadron exchanged mission briefs and ideas over the two-day visit. 1 SOPS then received detailed operations briefs from the different operations cells within 18 and 19 SDS, with topics ranging from launch processing, conjunction assessment, all the way through reentry event processing. The Japanese space operators received a hands-on demonstration of Astrodynamics Software Workstation, a sophisticated space tracking system used to analyze mega-constellations, or networks of hundreds or thousands of satellites providing internet access.

Ultimately with the threat of intercontinental ballistic missiles in the INDOPACOM region, both nations recognize the importance of space surveillance capabilities and SSA data sharing to a robust indication and warning.

Following the conclusion of the DEL 2 tour, Japan will join the U.S. and over 20 other participating nations in Global Sentinel, a two-week, unclassified security cooperation effort hosted by U.S. Space Command at Vandenberg SFB. The combatant command’s capstone event is designed to strengthen and grow international partnership, improve operational collaboration, and promote responsible behavior in the space domain.

Located at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, DEL 2 builds combat-ready forces who operationalize SDA to identify, characterize, and exploit opportunities and mitigate vulnerabilities in the national security space terrain. DEL 2 is one of 10 mission-oriented deltas within the U.S. Space Force.

The SOG, headquartered at Fuchu Air Base in Tokyo, Japan, is responsible for JASDF space operations.