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  • Published
  • By Staff Sergeant Matthew Matlock
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)

OPERATION HARPY SUR, a space exercise nested under Exercise RESOLUTE SENTINEL 2023, has opened a new chapter in international space collaboration at the Centro Nacional de Operaciones de Imágenes Satelitales, or CNOIS, in southern Peru. The space exercise aims to bolster the region's emerging space programs.

The U. S. Southern Command-led exercise partnered up with U. S. Space Command’s Joint Task Force-Space Defense Commercial Operations Cell or JCO, the Peruvian Aerospace Research and Development Center, or CONIDA, and the Peruvian Air Force, making significant strides in multinational space operations through training on real-world space domain awareness capabilities and JCO mission system familiarization.

HARPY SUR’s Theater Space Operations Center commander, Peruvian Air Force Lt. Col. Javier Ildefonso, highlighted the need for collaborative efforts with partner nations and interests in space domain awareness.

“For Peru, it’s very important, the cooperation and partnership with nations," Ildefonso said. “For example, two months ago, the Peruvian Space Agency and Peruvian Air Force just signed an agreement with the U. S. Space Command. We now have access to different kinds of space information, useful for different proposals considering the different threats that we have in space.”

HARPY SUR – named for Peru’s legendary harpy eagle and the Spanish word for south – followed the signing of an updated space situational awareness sharing agreement between USSPACECOM, CONIDA, and the Peruvian Air Force in April of this year. With this agreement, Peru is poised to elevate its space capabilities and contribute to international space safety and sustainability.

“Exercise RESOLUTE SENTINEL has brought together international military satellite operators, engineers, and commercial sensor providers onto the same ops floor,” said British Air Force Flt. Lt. Nick Hallchurch, JCO United Kingdom team lead. “The opportunity to learn from each other’s skill sets has been invaluable.”

The exercise provided an opportunity for space operators from the Peruvian Air Force and other partner nations, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador to interact with and learn from NATO member space professionals from the U. S. and the U. K. The team enhanced the entire RESOLUTE SENTINEL joint force through key space support activities such as space domain awareness operations, commercial space imagery, and electromagnetic warfare.

“During the nine days, I learned and shared many experiences as a Peruvian satellite operator,” said Peruvian Air Force Lieutenant Luzeth Tello, CONIDA Sat-1 Flight Dynamics Satellite operator. “One of the things that stuck out to me was the different organizations involved in creating the Notices to Space Operators (NOTSO) and how these notifications are generated. As a satellite operator, it was gratifying to see.”

A NOTSO, akin to a NOTAM (Notice to Aviators and Mariners) in aviation, is a critical communication tool designed to ensure the safety and efficiency of space operations.

"The JCO's involvement with RS23 represents the expanding international interest in a cooperative SDA,” said U.S. Space Force Capt. Carl Poole, Joint Task Force-Space Defense JCO site lead. “The engagements here at RS23, including the addition of new sensors, follow an expansion of the tri-annual Sprint Advanced Concepts Training currently showcased to grow the JCO global mission with partner nations and commercial companies."

The Sprints are key developmental milestones toward eventual 24-hour multinational commercial SDA operations.

HARPY SUR highlights the importance of the space domain in global security and the JCO's pivotal role in facilitating international collaborations in space domain awareness. Through these initiatives, the Peruvian Air Force is expected to significantly enhance its capabilities in space domain awareness and contribute to the global understanding of space activities.