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11th Space Warning Squadron

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Country  United States
Size  69 members
Role  Space Warning
11th Space Warning Squadron
Active  1994–2002; 2007–present
Branch  United States Air Force
Part of  Air Force Space Command

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.

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.

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

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.


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


  • 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
  • Stations

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

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

  • Lt Col Darrell Herriges (30 Sep 1994–1996)
  • Lt Col Suzanne M. Vautrinot (December 1998 – July 2000)
  • Lt Col Holly Weik (2007–2009)
  • Lt. Col. Shawn Fairhurst (2009–2011)
  • Lt Col Lynn McDonald (2011–2013)
  • Lt Col Thomas Colvin (2013-present)
  • Decorations and Awwards

  • Meritorious Unit Award
  • 7 October 2001–31 March 2002
  • Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
  • 1 October 1995 – 30 September 1997 1 January 1999 – 31 December 1999 1 January 2000 – 31_August 2001

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


    11th Space Warning Squadron Wikipedia

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