The United States is developing new space weapons and technologies to defeat Russia's increasingly brazen probing attacks on American defense and intelligence satellites orbiting the Earth at different altitudes.
This revelation was made over the weekend by top officials of the United States Space Force (USSF) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. That both the Space Force and ODNI thought it necessary to immediately brief these committees on the uptick in Russian interference testifies to the seriousness of the threat, said some military analysts. The Chinese are also doing much the same things the Russians are doing.
Maj. Gen. Tim Lawson, acting deputy commander of the United States Space Command, said "things are coming" that will help the U.S. combat space-based threats from both Russia and China. Gen. Lawson underscored the vital importance of deploying a large, resilient network of small satellites far less vulnerable than the few large military and intelligence satellites gathering intelligence 24/7.
The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which informs the U.S. federal and military leadership about the military intentions and capabilities of foreign governments, assesses Russia's and China's militaries "view space as important to modern warfare." Both these strategic competitor states plan to conduct space operations "as a means to reduce U.S. and allied military effectiveness."
The DIA report titled, "Challenges to Security in Space," also says both Russia and China are developing "jamming and cyberspace capabilities, directed energy weapons, on-orbit capabilities, and ground-based anti-satellite missiles." These are technologies that will have destructive impacts on U.S. military and civilian satellites.
DIA also pointed out Russia's space weapons might be able to disrupt or degrade U.S. communications and navigation dependent on GPS. Russia might even destroy certain satellites. U.S. Space Command revealed in late July it had evidence Russia had tested a new "space-based anti-satellite weapon."
"This is further evidence of Russia's continuing efforts to develop and test space-based systems, and consistent with the Kremlin's published military doctrine to employ weapons that hold U.S. and allied space assets at risk," said Gen. John Raymond, Chief of Space Operations for the USSF. Gen Raymond is also commander of U.S. Space Command.
On September 15, Gen. Raymond said among the many threats to American satellites are direct ascent anti-satellite missiles that can reach low earth orbit in minutes. There are massive electronic attacks and directed energy weapons (DEWs), or lasers, moving at the speed of light. U.S. satellites will also have to contend with enemy on-orbit capabilities such as anti-satellite missiles hurtling forward at speeds faster than 28,000 km/h.
Gen. Raymond said the U.S. must be able to meet the threats from both Russia and China. The U.S. must also "have the ability to punch back. The unified command plan is clear; we must provide independent options in, through and from space to ensure freedom of action in all domains."