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11th Space Warning Squadron
11th Space Warning Squadron
11th Space Warning Squadron emblem
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Service history
Active 1994–2002; 2007–Present
Role Combat Support
Part of AFSPC
Decorations Outstanding Unit ribbon AFOUA
Commanders Lt Col Lynn McDonald

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


The mission of the 11th SWS is to provide "assured" theater missile warning to warfighters worldwide.


The 11th SWS is 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.[1]

The TALON SHIELD system was declared Operational and the 11th Space Warning Squadron Constituted on 26 September 1994. 11th SWS activated on 1 October 1994.

The 11th SWS uses infrared data from the constellation of Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites to warn deployed troops in theater of short-range missile launches, as well as significant other events around the globe.[2] The 11th SWS formerly operated and maintained the Attack and Launch Early Reporting to Theater (ALERT), system. That system 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, the 11th SWS was inactivated as part of the transition to the DSP follow-on, SBIRS. The 11th SWS was inactivated on 31 December 2002.

The 11 SWS was reactivated in 2007. The 460th Operations Group, Detachment 1, stood down and stood up as the 11th Space Warning Squadron on 3 December 2007.[3]


Major CommandEdit


Previous designationsEdit

  • 11th Space Warning Squadron (1994–2002; 2007–present)

Bases stationedEdit

Equipment OperatedEdit

  • SBIRS (2007–present)
  • DSP (1994–2002; 2007–present)
  • Attack and Launch Early Reporting to Theater (ALERT) (1994–2002)


  • Lt Col Lynn McDonald (2011–Present)
  • Lt. Col. Shawn Fairhurst (2009–2011)[6]
  • Lt Col Holly Weik (2007–2009)[4]
  • Lt Col Darrell Herriges (30 Sep 1994–1996)[7]
  • Lt Col Suzanne M. Vautrinot (December 1998 – July 2000)[8]
  • Lt Col Holly Weik (2007–2009)[4]

Photo galleryEdit



The 11th Space Warning Squadron was awarded the Gen. Seth J. McKee Award for Best Space Warning Squadron during the 2009 Air Force Space Command Space Operations Awards on 1 June 2010.[11]


  2. Allen, Sanjay. "11th SWS reactivated as Buckley plays host". Archived from the original on 29 April 2009. Retrieved 28 August 2008. 
  3. Space warning squadron reactivated| Accessed 18 July 2009. [ Archived 20 July 2009.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Buckley AFB Public Affairs: "Space warning squadron reactivated", 6 Dec 2007
  5. Accessed 18 July 2009. [ Archived 20 July 2009.
  6. 11 SWS change of command slated for 7 July. Accessed 18 July 2009. Archived 20 July 2009.
  7. AFHRA FOIA Req 09-0061: 21st Space Wing Roster of Key Personnel (as of 31 December 1996)
  8. Biography of Major General Suzanne M. "Zan" Vautrinot
  9. AFHRA FOIA Request 200901085, 4 June 2009
  10. AFSPC Special Order GA-09, 1 November 1997
  11. 11th SWS takes home Gen. Seth McKee award

External linksEdit

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