Space Delta 4 units: 2 SWS

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Haley N. Blevins
  • Buckley Garrison Public Affairs

Housed beneath the shadows of Buckley Air Force Base’s radomes, a secure perimeter of steel surrounds space warfighters as they work around the clock to support Combatant Commands across the globe.


Several units, alongside our allies, work hand-in-hand to provide strategic and theater missile warning to the U.S. and international partners. One such unit is the 2d Space Warning Squadron (2 SWS).


The 2 SWS operates out of Buckley AFB—its primary mission is to defend and deliver trusted, persistent space-based global missile warning and battlespace awareness in support of U.S. and allied forces. 


To understand what this squadron accomplishes each day, here’s a look at the tools they utilize and how they function in support of this critical mission. 


The 2 SWS controls two satellite constellations: the Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites and the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellites.


The DSP satellites are a major component of North America’s early missile warning systems. These satellites protect our nation and our allies by detecting missile launches, space launches, and nuclear detonations around the world. The DSP satellites use an infrared sensor to detect missile and booster plumes against the Earth’s background.


“This system is truly a testament to the best of our ingenuity, foresight, and skill, at a time when America and our international partners needed it most,” said Col. Richard Bourquin, Space Delta 4 commander. “It’s a system that [has been] operated, supported, engineered and sustained for 50 years by some of the most talented professionals in the world.” 


The SBIRS program consists of the space segment of Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellites, Highly Elliptical Orbit sensors riding on host satellites, legacy DSP satellites, and the associated worldwide deployed ground systems. 


SBIRS sensors have enhanced capabilities that result in improved prediction accuracy for global, strategic, and tactical warfighters. 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. 


These assets would be nothing without the members and their skillful eyes. One of these members recalls a significant event in which his team’s diligent work contributed to a successful intervention. 


“The [2d Space Warning Squadron] was my first assignment as a young staff sergeant after [cross-training] back in 2002, and it’s fitting that I will retire from 2 SWS in the not-distant future,” said Master Sgt. James Melvin, 2 SWS operations superintendent. “I’ve had the opportunity to see, firsthand, the impact that space operators can have on today’s battlefields when our operators notified [United States Central Command] of the Iranian missile launches back in January of this year.” 


This event is one of many which demonstrates the need for a devoted branch of space warfighters. Most members of the 2 SWS have already made the transition into the United States Space Force to augment this cause. 


For more information about 2 SWS, visit