11th Space Warning Squadron

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11th Space Warning Squadron
Col. Clint Crosier, 460th Space Wing commander, Lt. Col. Shawn Fairhurst, 11th Space Warning Squadron commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Robert Ellis, 460th Space Wing command chief, pose with the Gen. Seth J. McKee trophy.jpg
Awarding of the Gen. Seth J. McKee trophy 1 June 2010
Active 1994–2002; 2007–present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Role Space Warning
Size 69 members[1]
Part of Air Force Space Command
Garrison/HQ Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado[2]
Motto(s) In The Fight
Decorations Air Force Meritorious Unit Award
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Lt Col Lynn McDonald
11th Space Warning Squadron emblem (approved 8 June 1995) 11th Space Warning Squadron.PNG

The 11th Space Warning Squadron is a United States Air Force missile warning squadron, located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.


Media related to 11th Space Warning Squadron at Wikimedia Commons

The mission of the 11th Space Warning Squadron is to provide theater missile warning to warfighters worldwide.


The squadron was the first operational unit using technological procedures developed following Desert Storm for the Air Force. Commanders in Saudi Arabia pinpointed a need for more timely and accurate information on incoming short-range ballistic missiles.

The technology available was accurate enough, as each Scud missile launched by Iraq was detected by Defense Support Program satellites, but wasn't intended for theater use. Commanders in Saudi Arabia needed information quicker, and with more precise targeting information for anti-missile batteries, such as the Patriot.

To meet that need, the Air Force set up a research and development program called TALON SHIELD. The program was tasked to improve and enhance sensor processing from Defense Support Program (DSP) spacecraft to optimize space-based warning support for theater commanders.

The first fruits of that study is the Attack and Launch Early Reporting to Theater, or ALERT, system. ALERT uses improved satellite data processing equipment and programs to speed up identifying when missiles anywhere in the world are launched. Improvements to the system have sped up this critical aspect of war fighting ten-fold.[3]

The Talon Shield system was declared operational and the 11th Space Warning Squadron was activated on 1 October 1994.

The squadron used infrared data from the constellation of Defense Support Program satellites to warn deployed troops in theater of short-range missile launches, as well as significant other events around the globe. The 11th also formerly operated and maintained the Attack and Launch Early Reporting to Theater (ALERT) system, which provided continuous surveillance and early warning of theater missiles and other threats in direct support of theater warfighters worldwide. When the mission control station was completed at Buckley Air Force Base late in 2001 as part of the transition to the Defense Support Program follow-on, Space-Based Infrared System, the squadron mission was reduced and it was inactivated on 31 December 2002.[2]

The 11th was reactivated at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado in December 2007. The squadron replaced Detachment 1 of the 460th Operations Group. Its new role is to operate the latest Space-Based Infrared Systems satellite payload, using a new sensor in a highly elliptical orbit to provide an increase in warning time and accuracy[2]

In August 2016, the Air Force announced plans to relocate the squadron back to Buckley and rename it the 11th Space Experimentation Squadron. The relocated unit will focus on how battlefield commanders can use space-based infrared imagery to find enemies. Although the infrared sensors were designed to detect missile launches, they can be used to detect other heat sources that provide intelligence information. A new system will replace the ground control station the squadron was operating at Schriever.[1]


  • Constituted as the 11th Space Warning Squadron on 26 September 1994
Activated on 1 October 1994
Inactivated on 31 December 2002[2]
Activated on 3 December 2007[2]


  • 21st Operations Group, 1 October 1994
  • 821st Space Group, c. 1 October 1999
  • 21st Operations Group, c. 1 October 2001 – 31 Dec 2002
  • 460th Operations Group. 3 December 2007 – present[4]


  • Falcon Air Force Base (later Schriever Air Force Base),Colorado. 1 October 1994 – 31 December 2002)
  • Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado (2007 – present)[5]

Equipment Operated[edit]

  • Defense Support Program (1994–2002; 2007–present)
  • Attack and Launch Early Reporting to Theater (1994–2002)
  • Space Based Infrared System (2007–present)


  • Lt Col Darrell Herriges (30 Sep 1994–1996)[6]
  • Lt Col Suzanne M. Vautrinot (December 1998 – July 2000)[7]
  • Lt Col Holly Weik (2007–2009)[2]
  • Lt. Col. Shawn Fairhurst (2009–2011)[8]
  • Lt Col Lynn McDonald (2011–2013)
  • Lt Col Thomas Colvin (2013-present)[citation needed]

Decorations and Awwards[edit]

7 October 2001–31 March 2002[9]
1 October 1995 – 30 September 1997[10]
1 January 1999 – 31 December 1999
1 January 2000 – 31_August 2001

Gen. Seth J. McKee Award for best space warning squadron 2009[11]


  1. ^ a b Roeder, Tom (August 7, 2016). "Air Force squadron leaving Colorado Springs for new work as space spies". Colorado Springs Gazette. Retrieved August 10, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Allen, SSG Sanjay (6 December 2007). "Space warning squadron reactivated". 460th Space Wing Public Affairs. Archived from the original on 20 July 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  3. ^ "11th SPACE WARNING SQUADRON". Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. 
  4. ^ McCune, Christopher (August 8, 2016). "Factsheet 460 Operations Group (AFSPC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved August 10, 2016. 
  5. ^ Accessed 18 July 2009. [http://www.webcitation.org/5iQHvw6c0 Archived 20 July 2009.
  6. ^ AFHRA FOIA Req 09-0061: 21st Space Wing Roster of Key Personnel (as of 31 December 1996)
  7. ^ Biography of Major General Suzanne M. "Zan" Vautrinot http://www.af.mil/information/bios/bio.asp?bioID=8656 Archived 12 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ http://www.schriever.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123156673 11 SWS change of command slated for 7 July. Accessed 18 July 2009. Archived 20 July 2009.
  9. ^ AFHRA FOIA Request 200901085, 4 June 2009
  10. ^ AFSPC Special Order GA-09, 1 November 1997
  11. ^ Musal, SRA Stephen (11 June 2010). "11th SWS takes home Gen. Seth McKee award". 460 Space Wing Public Affairs. Archived from the original on 30 October 2012. Retrieved August 10, 2016. 

External links[edit]