By Dave Hodges
The world’s most troublesome hot spots may not be in the South China Sea, Taiwan, Korea, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Israel, Kashmir, Pakistan, Ukraine or Spain’s coming civil war. In fact, the coming global conflict may not be located on any map. In order to view the battlefield of tomorrow, just look up into the night sky, to Earth orbit, where a conflict is unfolding that is an arms race by any stretch of the imagination.
If Russia and China decided to launch a concerted attack on military satellites, it would leave America and Europe much more vulnerable to attack by either air or ground forces. If either nation destroyed civilian satellites, the economic effects and loss of life could be profound.
China and Russia Preparing for War In Space
China and Russia are building laser weapons and jamming technology which could target the United States military satellites which are orbiting Earth.
The Joint Staff intelligence directorate, known as J-2, published the warning in a recent report on the growing threat of anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons from China and Russia, according to The Washington Free Beacon.
China and Russia are colluding with each other to limit U.S. defenses in space through collaboration and the development of ASAT weapons.
“Ten years after China intercepted one of its own satellites in low-earth orbit, its ground-launched ASAT missiles are probably operational. Russia’s Defense Ministry has completed the construction of two radars for the country’s Space Forces and four storage facilities for Bulava sea-launched intercontinental ballistic missiles according to Defense Minister Timur Ivanov.
Both China and Russia have made significant gains in satellite killing technology. In 2007, China spectacularly tested a weapon capable of knocking a satellite out of orbit. They have learned how to jam weapons, use sophisticated laser weapons, and they are een bragging about it.
About 1,300 active satellites occupy near-earth orbit, providing weather pridctions, worldwide communications, GPS navigation and planetary surveillance for the purpose of establishing over the horizon radar for purposes of winning the battles of tomorrow. For militaries that rely on some of those satellites for modern warfare, space has become the king of the hill.
What most people do not realize is that a space could cripple the entire planet’s space-based infrastructure. And even though it might begin in space, such a conflict could easily start World War III.
Testifying before Congress earlier this year, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper echoed the concerns held by many senior government officials about the growing threat to U.S. satellites, saying that China and Russia are both “developing capabilities to deny access in a conflict,” such as those that might erupt over China’s military activities in the South China Sea or Russia’s in Ukraine. China in particular, Clapper said, has demonstrated “the need to interfere with, damage and destroy” U.S. satellites, referring to a series of Chinese anti-satellite missile tests that began in 2007.
The weapon of the future, lasers, can be used to temporarily disable or permanently damage a satellite’s components, particularly its delicate sensors, and radio or microwaves can jam or abscond with transmissions to or from ground controllers. Lasers comprise only part of the arsenal of space.
Offensive Space Weapons Are Tested
Fearing Soviet nuclear weapons launched from orbit, the U.S. began testing anti-satellite weaponry in the late 1950s. The US even tested nuclear bombs in space before orbital weapons of mass destruction were banned through the United Nations’ Outer Space Treaty of 1967. After the ban, space-based surveillance became a crucial component of the Cold War, with satellites serving as one part of elaborate early-warning systems on alert for the deployment or launch of ground-based nuclear weapons. Throughout most of the Cold War, the Soviet Union tested space mines with a Kamikaze type spacecraft that could seek and destroy U.S. spy satellites by destroying them with shrapnel. In the 1980s, the militarization of space peaked with the Reagan administration’s multibillion-dollar Star Wars Initiative which developled near-earth orbital countermeasures against Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles. And in 1985, the U.S. Air Force staged a clear demonstration of its formidable capabilities, when an F-15 fighter jet launched a missile that took out a failing U.S. satellite in low-Earth orbit. And the space-based arms race commenced.
Low- and high-Earth orbits have become the center of scientific and commercial activity with satellites from more than 60 different nations. I have written about how a new internet is being established 62 miles about the earth. However, what is primarily going on in near-earth orbit is not about peaceful development. Despite their largely peaceful purposes, each and every satellite is at risk of being
The Best Weapon: Launching Space Junk
Space junk is the greatest threat to American military satellites. The quickest way to destroy a satellite is to simply launch something which will block the path of the orbiting satellite. Even the impact of an object is small and low-tech as a marble can disable or entirely destroy a billion-dollar satellite. And if a nation uses such a “kinetic” method to destroy an adversary’s satellite, it can easily create even more dangerous debris, potentially cascading into a chain reaction that transforms Earth orbit into a demolition derby.
The U.S.military became resigned, decades ago, that its lower orbit satellites were vulnerable.
In 2013, after the Chinese took down their own weather satellite, the US declassified details of its secret Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP), a planned set of four satellites capable of monitoring the Earth’s high orbits and even rendezvousing with other satellites to inspect them up-close. The first two GSSAP spacecraft launched into orbit in July 201. At one time, this was a black program. It is now very much out in the open.Russia has been developing its own ability to approach, inspect and potentially sabotage or destroy satellites in orbit. The take-away is that both side have the capacity to take out each other’s satellites.
The US national security co massive funding 2015 funding for the Pentagon’s Space Security and Defense Program go toward development of offensive space control and active defense strategies and capabilities.
An offensive war in space that would target satellites would be comparable to a massive EMP attack. Further, our ground forces small in number would be in severe danger. US defense forces depend on over-the-horizon radar to locate and destroy the enemy. Without satellites, the US miitary would need to draft millions of American to compensate for the loss of this technology.
The final chapter has not been written as of yet. This is a new battleground and the results are predictably catastrophic, but unpredictable about where this ultimately heading.