US Space Force adding new cyber squads, improving satellite control

WASHINGTON: The Space Force’s Delta 6, responsible for protecting US military satellites from cyberattack, is adding four more squadrons — with the aim of providing each service mission area its own cyber group, Delta 6 Commander Col. Roy Rockwell said.

“So, the way we’re organizing is we’ll have a sovereign squadron for each mission area, and a delta is assigned to a mission area,” he told the Space Force Association Thursday. “Each of those deltas, outside of Delta 6 and 7, will have a cyber squadron assigned to protect those mission systems in their mission area.”

The Space Force has nine deltas, stood up in 2020, which essentially are the equivalent of Air Force wings. Delta 1 is responsible for training; all the other deltas have operational missions and fall under Space Operations Command:

  • Delta 2 — space domain awareness
  • Delta 3 — electronic warfare
  • Delta 4 — missile warning
  • Delta 5 — command and control (C2)
  • Delta 6 — cyber operations
  • Delta 7 — intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR)
  • Delta 8 — positioning, navigation and timing (PNT), and communications
  • Delta 9 — orbital warfare

Delta 6, known as the “Cyber Delta,” currently has three squadrons assigned to cyber defense. The four new squadrons will stand up in the summer, Rockwell said.

“The way we’re approaching cyber is a little different than the other services,” he explained. Whereas the other services set up cyber protection teams (CPTs) that are assigned to time-bound operations in the field, the Space Force is setting up permanent CPTs for each of the mission areas, he explained.

Delta 6 patch

Space Delta 6 activated July 24, 2020, and is known as the “Cyber Delta.” Space Delta 6’s mission is to provide continuous space access and availability through the Satellite Control Network. (U.S. Space Force graphic by Jacob Mosolf)

Delta 6 also is responsible for operating and sustaining the legacy Satellite Control Network, with three squadrons dedicated to that mission.

The Satellite Control Network comprises a number of ground-based command and control (C2) and tracking stations that perform tracking, telemetry, and commanding (TT&C) for satellite operators in the US military, NASA, the National Oceanic, and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Reconnaissance Office. The primary C2 station is at Schriever SFB in Colorado; the secondary is at Vandenberg SFB in California.