Russia and China are actively pursuing new weapons and capabilities to counter America’s dominance of space according a U.S. Intelligence Community assessment. Indeed, both nations are considering the development of weapons that could attack U.S. satellites and other space-based assets in orbit.
“We assess that Russia and China perceive a need to offset any U.S. military advantage derived from military, civil, or commercial space systems and are increasingly considering attacks against satellite systems as part of their future warfare doctrine,” reads congressional testimony from Daniel Coats, director of National Intelligence on May 11. “Both will continue to pursue a full range of anti- satellite (ASAT) weapons as a means to reduce U.S. military effectiveness.”
The two great powers—which seek to offset America’s advantages in that domain—are continuing the development of such capabilities despite public statements that would curtain an arms race in space. “Russia and China remain committed to developing capabilities to challenge perceived adversaries in space, especially the United States, while publicly and diplomatically promoting nonweaponization of space and ‘no first placement’ of weapons in space,” Coats stated. “Such commitment continues despite ongoing US and allied diplomatic efforts to dissuade expansion of threats to the peaceful use of space, including international engagements through the U.N.”
Most attacks against U.S. space assets are likely to be non-kinetic, focusing on electronic attacks and cyber-warfare. “Development will very likely focus on jamming capabilities against dedicated military satellite communications (SATCOM), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imaging satellites, and enhanced capabilities against Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), such as the US Global Positioning System (GPS),” Coats’ testimony reads. “Blending of EW [electronic warfare] and cyber-attack capabilities will likely expand in pursuit of sophisticated means to deny and degrade information networks. Chinese researchers have discussed methods to enhance robust jamming capabilities with new systems to jam commonly used frequencies. Russia intends to modernize its EW forces and field a new generation of EW weapons by 2020.”
Source: The National Interest
Analysis: U.S. military and intelligence capabilities have no single peer competitors but the combination of technologies and resources from Russia and China may someday pose a significant threat to American control over the space domain. In the meantime Moscow and Beijing both appear to accept that neither country can match U.S. technological superiority in space, so the rather than spend billions in an attempt to out-develop us, they’d rather just destroy our assets. It’s much cheaper and would put the U.S. military on a more level playing field, given that much of our whiz-bang weaponry and capability relies on space-based assets.