The Pentagon says China and Russia are increasingly developing and deploying weapons intended to attack American satellites. The statement comes from a report by the Defense Intelligence Agency, which also scrutinizes the two countries’ apparent plans to expand their space intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance apparatus.
as collected Bloombergthe main concern of the United States is laser armament which the Chinese and the Russians could take advantage of to deactivate their satellites. However, the aforementioned outlet indicates that the intelligence report is mainly based on articles extracted from the press, as well as statements made by officials of the targeted countries.
“China has several ground-based laser weapons of varying power levels to disrupt, degrade or damage satellites,” the report said. He also mentions that although his current capacity is limited, the Asian giant’s systems could already be set up against satellite sensors. And he assures that by the end of the current decade, they could extend to the point of affecting non-optical satellites.
As for the Russian threat against American satellites, the Pentagon remained on the same line. According to intelligence authorities, this nation also has a land-based laser battery which can be used to “blind” them. Moreover, the predictions for the future were very similar to China’s, ensuring that by 2030 they could attack satellites of all kinds.
As expected, the response to the American accusations was not long in coming. “The United States has woven a narrative about the alleged threat posed by China and Russia in outer space to justify its own military buildup,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.
Are American satellites threatened by China and Russia?
The Chinese response to the approach on the threats against American satellites doesn’t seem too far from reality. Bloomberg says the Defense Intelligence Agency report uses these facts to justify some of the investments the Pentagon has proposed in the FY2023 defense budget.
However, it also raises an important concern about the militarization of space activity. According to the Americans, since 2018, China has almost doubled the number of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance satellites it has in orbit; and they also guarantee that the army of the Asian country controls half of this type of system in the world.
On the other hand, the report also states that Russia would view US space plans as its “Achilles tendon”. Apparently, the Kremlin believes that the United States is too dependent on “space services”, and that it would favor the development of strategies to prevent access to its satellites.
However, All the Pentagon’s worries don’t seem to come out of a Tom Clancy book. They also consider that there is a growing problem in how space debris could affect the operation of American satellites. “The likelihood of collisions of massive objects left in low Earth orbit is increasing,” the report states; and projections suggest it will continue this way until at least 2030.
The latter is not too surprising. Keep in mind that space debris is a growing problem for the International Space Station; to the point of becoming a threat that impacted their operations. And while there are ambitious plans to “clean up” space, they don’t seem achievable anytime soon.