The US Defense Department is planning to reveal to the world the existence of a highly secret space weapon programme which was designed to contain imminent threats from China and Russia, the news outlet Breaking Defense has quoted anonymous sources as saying.
Declassification of the weapon systems, known as Space Command and Space Force, has been “championed” by General John Hyten, the vice-chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff.
According to the sources, the anti-satellite weaponry was due to be revealed at this year’s National Space Symposium which is running until 26 August but plans were put on hold because of the ongoing Afghan crisis which prompted the US’ “national security apparatus” to focus on Kabul.
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Evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport
Many senior officials in the US space military feel that it would be constructive to demonstrate to such historic rivals as Moscow and Beijing the capability of US anti-satellite technology to destroy not only any space-based counterspace systems they may be developing but also ordinary satellites which we all depend on for communications and navigation. However, revealing “such a sensitive technology” requires the green light from the Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, and President Joe Biden. As one source said: “Until POTUS says yes, nothing is for certain, of course.”
The technology is reportedly designed to degrade or destroy a “target satellite and/or spacecraft”, and sources have debated how to demonstrate such space-bound weapons on Earth. Some suggest that the Defense Department should present “a terrestrially based mobile laser used for blinding adversary reconnaissance” and “a high-powered microwave system that can zap electronics carried on maneuverable bodyguard satellites”.
The developments come after the Defense Department rolled out America’s new Defense Space Strategy which, in particular, alleged that China and Russia “present the most immediate and serious threats to US space operations”. The strategy is designed to maintain the country’s space supremacy and provide relevant capabilities to US and allied forces.
Sergey Savelyev, the deputy head of Russian State Space Corporation, Roscosmos, for his part stressed last year that Washington’s space militarisation plans “may jeopardise the already fragile relations of the countries” in the space sector.
He was echoed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov who emphasised that Russia has always been and remains committed to the full demilitarisation of space. The Russian Foreign Ministry in turn warned against an arms race in space that it said could lead to the destruction of the existing security balance.