Onizuka Air Station, California

Category: Space
Mission: Satellite Control
One-time Cost: $121.3 million
Savings: 1996 - 2001: -$78.7 million (Cost)
Annual $16.1 million
Return on Investment: 2007 (7 years)

FINAL ACTION: Realign

Secretary of Defense Recommendation

Realign Onizuka AS. The 750th Space Group will inactivate and its functions will relocate to Falcon AFB, Colorado. Detachment 2, Space and Missile Systems Center (AFMC) will relocate to Falcon AFB, Colorado. Some tenants will remain in existing facilities. All activities and facilities associated with the 750th Space Group including family housing and the clinic will close.

Secretary of Defense Justification

The Air Force has one more satellite control installation than is needed to support projected future Air Force satellite control requirements consistent with the Department of Defense (DoD) Force Structure Plan. When all eight criteria are applied to the bases in the Satellite Control subcategory, Onizuka AS ranked lower than the other base in the subcategory. Among other factors, Falcon AFB has superior protection against current and future electronic encroachment, reduced risks associated with security and mission-disrupting contingencies, and significantly higher closure costs.

Community Concerns

The community expressed concerns about the national security implications of closure. In addition, the community is concerned that operational requirements of satellite control redundancy (dual node versus single node capability) would be jeopardized. They note the mission objective requires robust, flexible, responsible, and enduring satellite control capability. Back-up resources are required to eliminate single failure points and provide continuous, uninterrupted control capability in the event of war, natural disaster, or sabotage. In addition, a U.S. Air Force Space Command Backup Satellite Control policy directive dated January 30, 1995, requires geographically separated back-up satellite control capability. The community argues that the Air Force needs both Onizuka Air Station (AS) and Falcon Air Force Base (AFB) satellite control nodes.

Community representatives believe the Air Force was not forthcoming regarding the existence of a "Single-Node Operations Study" and its cost estimates. The community argues the Air Force misled the Commission in its answers to questions about this study. The community suggests the Air Force had planned to close Onizuka since 1994. They also conclude that all costs associated with moving Detachment 2 and the classified tenants properly belong in the cost calculations of DoD's recommendation. They argue the total one-time costs to close Onizuka AS are $699 million (versus DoD's estimate of $291.3 million) and the return on investment is 27.1 years (versus DoD's calculation of 7 years). Finally, community representatives believe some portion of the costs for a communications switching system upgrade should be included in DoD's recommendation.

The community also questions the Air Force's military value analysis. They argue the analysis is unauditable, the Air Force relied on "military judgment," and the approach was undocumented. Community representatives believe the Air Force's analysis is flawed because the Air Force violated its guidance and the decision-making process was subjective. They note the General Accounting Office supports the conclusion that the Onizuka AS rating was arbitrary. The community also suggests Air Force savings were shifted as costs to other federal agencies, Also, one- time closure costs may be overstated at Falcon AFB and understated at Onizuka AS. Finally, the community notes Onizuka AS was penalized for air quality restrictions, although there is no operational impact on satellite control.

The community presented an alternative proposal to realign Onizuka AS to Moffett Federal Airfield. This proposal would provide commercial utilization of available capacity at Onizuka AS and maintain the integrity of Moffett Federal Airfield. They argue realignment of Onizuka AS would jeopardize the whole concept of a federal airfield. Closure of family housing units; the medical clinic; Morale, Welfare, and Recreation program facilities; and the Navy Exchange, which is sponsored by Onizuka AS, would have a detrimental impact on Moffett Federal Airfield's ability to provide services to remaining DoD personnel. It also would result in the loss of a significant airfield user, increased costs to remaining resident agencies, and diminished attractiveness to federal agencies.

Commission Findings

The Commission found backup capability and redundancy for controlling individual satellites will not be lost with this realignment. The Commission found that, although the United States currently has a requirement for satellite control redundancy and the U.S. Air Force Space Command Backup Satellite Control policy directive requires geographical separation for backup control capabilities and communications, two fully operational satellite control nodes are no longer required. Back-up capability currently can be provided through payload command and control, mission processing facilities, remote satellite tracking stations, mobile assets, and/or the use of the Onizuka AS assets as required. The Commission also found the recommendation to realign Onizuka AS will not increase risk associated with satellite control or reduce redundancy. Future developments will make geographical separation unnecessary. Therefore, the Commission found that the U.S. Air Force has one more satellite control installation than it needs to support future Air Force satellite control requirements. In addition, the Commission found while the Air Force would like to close Onizuka AS at some point in the future, it must keep it open to support classified tenants whose missions will not phase out or move until after the BRAC 1995 timeframe (after 2001). Thus, DoD's recommendation is for realignment and not closure.

The Commission found the "Single-Node Operations Study" was not part of the BRAC 1995 analysis because it was conducted before the BRAC 1995 process and its assumptions were fundamentally different from DoD's recommendation. Detachment 2 consists of two components, only one of which belongs in the closure cost calculations. The Commission included the cost of realigning the engineering component in its analysis. Under the realignment, only one classified mission is required to relocate. The other classified missions will remain at Onizuka AS until they complete their missions. The cost to realign the one classified mission is $80.2 million and is included in the total $121.3 million realignment costs. The Commission found the recommendation for realignment is not connected to on-going multi-year research and development efforts to upgrade the Air Force Satellite Control Network. These upgrades are not the result of the Onizuka AS realignment and are required with or without the realignment.

The Commission found air quality does not have a significant impact on current operations, but is a major factor affecting realignments and the transfer of additional functions and personnel into the area, The Commission also found realignment to Moffett Federal Airfield is not a viable alternative.

Commission Recommendation

The Commission finds the Secretary of Defense did not deviate substantially from the force-structure plan and final criteria. Therefore, the Commission recommends the following: realign Onizuka Air Station. The 750th Space Group will inactivate and its functions will relocate to Falcon AFB, Colorado. Detachment 2, Space and Missile Systems Center (AFMC) will relocate to Falcon, AFB, Colorado. Some tenants will remain in existing facilities. All activities and facilities associated with the 750th Space Group including family housing and the clinic will close.

1995 DoD Recommendations Back to AF Actions