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20th Space Control Squadron strengthens international partnership with Norway

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The vastness of space got a little smaller when the 20th Space Control Squadron hosted representatives from the Norwegian Intelligence Service May 9 to 11 to build trust, interoperability and cooperative space capabilities.

The 20th SPCS is a geographically separated unit of the 21st Space Wing.

The NIS employs the Globus II radar at Vardo, Norway, to satisfy Norwegian intelligence requirements. Although operated exclusively by Norwegian personnel, the U.S.-developed radar is also part of the 29-sensor global space surveillance network, providing data to U.S. Strategic Command on the location and identity of more than 10,000 man-made objects orbiting the Earth.

Traveling from above the Arctic Circle halfway across the world, Norwegian officials visited Eglin to observe training, maintenance and operating procedures used at the 20th.

During the three day visit, NIS representatives were welcomed with a tour of the AN/FPS-85 phased array radar site, including the Space Operations Center, radar maintenance and computer operations rooms, and the squadron's training and evaluation simulator. 20th SPCS and NIS officials also exchanged information to help strengthen interoperability and cooperative space operations.

trond Anetsen, NIS liaison to Air Force Space Command, said the visit was very beneficial.

"We observed operating, training, and maintenance processes that can be integrated into our operations," he said. "We look forward to future exchange visits, both here and in Norway."

Of the 29 sensors in the Space Surveillance Network, Globus II and the AN/FPS-85 are the only dedicated space surveillance radars capable of tracking satellites in deep space orbits. Both can track objects smaller than a basketball orbiting 23,000 nautical miles away. Due to Globus II's strategic location in northeast Norway, the radar is able to survey portions of space unobserved by surveillance sensors 10 years ago.

"Maintaining an accurate common operating picture of the space environment is critical to the space control mission," said Lt. Col. Shane Connary, 20th SPCS commander. "The data collected by Globus II in Norway and the AN/FPS-85 here at Eglin is vital to the protection of (United States) and friendly space systems, as well as prevention of an adversary's ability to use space systems and services for purposes hostile to U.S. national security interests."

The NIS visit to Eglin marked another small success in AFSPC's long history of international partnerships as ideas were exchanged and relationships were strengthened.

"Continued global partnerships such as those between Norway and the United States are critical to future military success," said Maj. Paul Tombarge, 20th SPCS operations officer. "By promoting mutual understanding and trust, we can enhance interoperability and cooperative space operations. Together, we can maintain space superiority to dominate the fight."