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2d SPACE WARNING SQUADRON

The 2d Space Warning Squadron (2 SWS) is a United States Air Force missile warning squadron, located at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado.

MISSION

The mission of the 2 SWS is to defend and deliver trusted, persistent space-based global missile warning and battlespace awareness in support of U.S. and allied forces.

EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES

The 2 SWS operates two satellite constellations. The Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites are a key part of North America's early warning systems. In their 22,300-mile, geosynchronous orbits, DSP satellites protect the United States and its allies by detecting missile launches, space launches and nuclear detonations. DSP satellites use an infrared sensor to detect heat from missile and booster plumes against the Earth's background. In 1995, technological advancements were made to ground processing systems enhancing detection capability of smaller missiles to provide improved warning of attack by short-range missiles against U.S. and allied forces overseas.

The Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) program is the follow-on capability to DSP and was designed to provide a seamless operational transition from DSP to SBIRS and meet jointly-defined requirements of the defense and intelligence communities in support of the missile warning, missile defense, battlespace awareness and technical intelligence mission areas. The program consists of the space segment of Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites, Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO) sensors riding on host satellites, legacy DSP satellites and the associated world-wide deployed ground systems. The SBIRS Mission Control Station (MCS), located at Buckley AFB, manages the constellation of HEO sensors, GEO satellites and the legacy DSP satellites. The SBIRS ground system consolidates the legacy DSP, HEO and GEO ground systems from three locations into one primary and one backup ground station.

SBIRS sensors are designed to provide greater flexibility and sensitivity than the DSP infrared sensor, allowing SBIRS to perform a broader set of missions. These enhanced capabilities result in improved prediction accuracy for global, strategic and tactical warfighters.

The spacecraft bus consists of a militarized, radiation-hardened spacecraft, providing power, attitude control, command and control and a communications subsystem. The infrared payload consists of two sensors; a scanner and a step-starer. The scanning sensor continuously scans the earth to provide 24/7 global strategic missile warning capability. Data from the scanner also contributes to theater and intelligence missions. The step-staring sensor, with its highly-agile and highly-accurate pointing and control system, provides coverage for theater missions and intelligence areas of interest with its fast revisit rates and high sensitivity.

HISTORY

The unit was constituted as 2d Space Communications Squadron (2 SCS) on May 1, 1992 and activated on May 15, 1992 then redesignated as 2 SWS on May 1, 1993.

In 2002, the MCS at Buckley AFB was completed as part of the transition from DSP to SBIRS. The consolidation of all DSP operations into the MCS and the activation of the facility in December 2001 was known as SBIRS Increment One. This was the critical first step in incorporating the remaining active DSP satellites with SBIRS HEO payloads and GEO satellites into a comprehensive system that allowed space operators to deliver global infrared surveillance, tracking, and missile warning for theater and homeland defense.

To operate the new HEO mission, the wing activated Detachment 1 of the 2 SWS on Jan. 1, 2006. This detachment controlled HEO operations from the Mission Control Station Backup (MCS-B) at Schriever AFB, Colorado, beginning on Oct. 2, 2007 in its new role to operate the latest SBIRS satellite payload, using a new sensor in HEO to provide an increase in warning time and accuracy.

The current SBIRS constellation provides data that allows 2 SWS members to report ballistic missiles and space launches, nuclear detonations, and infrared data with operational value to the President, Secretary of Defense, Combatant Commanders, intelligence agencies, and global warfighters.

On Dec. 20, 2019, United States Space Force was officially established and 2 SWS became a part of the newest branch of the United States Department of Defense. On July 24, 2020, the 2 SWS was transferred to Space Delta 4, Buckley AFB.