Air Force estimates Space Force could cost $13B

Air Force estimates Space Force could cost $13B
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President TrumpDonald TrumpStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE's desired Space Force could cost about $13 billion over five years, according to a new Air Force estimate.

The estimate, first reported by Defense One, breaks down into $3 billion for the first year and $10 billion over the following four years.

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Cost has been one of the outstanding questions about Trump’s Space Force plans since Vice President Pence outlined the administration’s vision for the new military service at a Pentagon speech in August.

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who has been tasked with leading plans to establish the service, has said only that it could cost “billions.”

An Air Force memo, dated Aug. 14 from service Secretary Heather Wilson, also estimates Space Force would need about 13,000 new personnel.

Wilson opposed the idea of a separate branch of the military for space when Congress proposed a similar plan last year.

But since Trump’s new push on Space Force, Wilson has refrained from criticizing the proposal, saying earlier this month that she is in “complete alignment” with the president.

“As airmen, we have a responsibility to develop a proposal for the president that is bold and that carries out his vision,” she said Monday during a speech at an Air Force Association conference, in which she also laid out a plan to have the biggest Air Force since the end of the Cold War.

The Air Force is currently in charge of about 90 percent of the military’s space portfolio. Much or all of that could go into the new Space Force.

Proponents of the new service say that it is necessary to counter Russia and China, which have taken steps to create their own space military branches, saying the Air Force has not given space the attention it deserves.

Opponents of the plan, however, say creating a new service would cost too much and add more bureaucracy that could make the problem worse. They also argue that Congress has already taken steps to tackle the problem, such as this year’s defense policy bill’s direction to create a U.S. Space Command.

The administration has said it plans to include Space Force in its fiscal year 2020 budget proposal, which would then need to be approved by Congress to stand up the service.