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AFRL New Mexico units identified to transfer to U.S. Space Force

photo of a large piece of satellite equipment in a laboratory

The Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate’s Demonstration and Science Experiments (DSX) satellite in its launch configuration

photo of a high tech piece of equipment pointed to the night sky

The Sodium Guidestar at the Air Force Research Laboratory Directed Energy Directorate's Starfire Optical Range.

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

The Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland AFB recently received news that some of their missions will transfer to the U.S. Space Force (USSF). AFRL units readying for transfer include most of the Space Vehicles Directorate missions and the Directed Energy Directorate’s Electro-Optics Division.

Approximately 525 of the 717 AFRL billets that will transfer to USSF are in N.M., and about 600 contractor jobs will transfer to USSF missions. The Directed Energy Directorate’s sister telescope operation on Maui, Hawaii was also named to join the Space Force.

In total, the Secretary of the Air Force, Barbara Barrett, announced that 23 units across the Air Force are slated for transfer. The goal is to have the identified space missions formally transferred to the USSF within the next three to six months. The door remains open for additional space missions to transfer on a later date.

The transfer does not include the physical movement of units to a different geographic location, nor reassignment of any employees.

“The Space Vehicles team will continue to serve the nation as the Center of Excellence for space vehicle research and development in our alignment to the Space Force,” said Col. Eric Felt, the Space Vehicles director. “Our job to develop the most technologically advanced and robust space assets possible for our warfighters and the nation remains our top priority.”

“The Directed Energy Directorate has been proud to be a leader in the United States’ space domain awareness for well over 50 years,” said Dr. Kelly Hammett, the Directed Energy director. “The transfer of our telescope operations in New Mexico and Hawaii to the Space Force is a recognition of the superlative work our scientists and engineer do each day in support of our nation’s ability to operate freely in space.”

When the USSF stood up in December, units within the Air Force Space Command primarily comprised the new branch. This upcoming transfer of 23 units, which translates to 1,840 positions, is a major step in building up the organization.

All civilian employees will remain “Department of the Air Force” civilians and military members in the 16 career fields that will be part of the USSF will have an opportunity to apply to transfer to USSF if they so choose.

Transfer action was identified for the below locations:

  • 17th Test Squadron, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
  • 18th Intel Squadron, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
  • 25th Space Range Squadron, Schriever AFB, Colorado
  • 328th Weapons Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nevada
  • 527th Space Aggressor Squadron, Schriever AFB, Colorado
  • 705th Combat Training Squadron OL-A, Schriever AFB, Colorado
  • 7th Intel Squadron, Ft. Meade, Maryland, (Partial mission transfer)
  • 16th AF/Advanced Programs, Schriever AFB, Colorado, (Partial mission transfer)
  • 32nd Intel Squadron, Ft. Meade, Maryland, (Partial mission transfer)
  • 566th Intel Squadron, Buckley AFB, Colorado, (Partial mission transfer)
  • 544th ISR Group Staff & Detachment 5, Peterson AFB, Colorado
  • Detachment 1, USAF Warfare Center, Schriever AFB, Colorado
  • 533rd Training Squadron, Vandenberg AFB, California
  • National Security Space Institute, Peterson AFB, Colorado
  • AFRL Research Lab Mission Execution, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, (Partial mission transfer)
  • AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, (Partial mission transfer)
  • AFRL Rocket Propulsion Division, Edwards AFB, California, (Partial mission transfer)
  • AFRL Electro-Optical Division, Maui, Hawaii & Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, (Partial mission transfer)
  • AFRL Sensors Directorate, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, (Partial mission transfer)
  • Counter-Space Analysis Squadron, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
  • Space Analysis Squadron, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
  • Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Detachment 4, Peterson AFB, Colorado
  • Air Force Safety Center - Space Safety Division, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico

“We expect this transfer to be a seamless transition for our people and the state of New Mexico,” Felt said. “We are delighted to serve this great country wherever we are placed in the military structure. It is our pleasure that we get to continue working alongside the strong New Mexico space technology enterprise and can remain a part of the Albuquerque and neighboring communities.”