China, Russia pose challenge to US space capabilities: Pentagon

Defense Intelligence Agency headquarters at Joint Base Anacostia Bolling in Washington D.C. Credit DIA

Defense Intelligence Agency headquarters at Joint Base Anacostia Bolling in Washington D.C. Credit DIA

More than a third of all recorded debris is from two events: China's use of a missile in 2007 to destroy a defunct satellite and the accidental collision between a US communications satellite and a defunct Russian one in 2009. "Additionally, there is a wave of exciting commercial technologies and investments in space that are expanding the potential opportunities, the benefits we can all enjoy".

"They are developing systems that pose a threat to freedom of action in space", the report warned, citing current Russian and Chinese military doctrine that sees the ability to control outer space as "integral to winning modern wars".

Noting that both countries have developed robust and capable space services, including space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, the report said China and Russian Federation were making improvements to existing systems including space launch vehicles and satellite navigation constellations.

"The PLA owns and operates about half of these ISR systems, most of which could support monitoring, tracking and targeting of USA and allied forces worldwide, especially throughout the Indo-Pacific region", it said.

If the US really cares about the security of space, it should join China in arms control, Hua said.

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) said in an assessment on Monday that China and Russian Federation were enhancing counter-space capabilities that would challenge the U.S. military's dominance in that domain.

It adds that China 'possibly already has a limited capability to employ laser systems against satellite sensors'.

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China had set up a strategic support force to integrate cyberspace, space and electronic warfare capabilities into joint military operations, it claimed.

China is building technologies that will soon threaten USA dominance in space, warned the Pentagon's lead intelligence agency.

China is second only to the United States in the number of operational satellites, the report added. It has been ratified by more than 100 countries, including the United States, Russia, China and North Korea.

The report notes that some actors will seek counter space capabilities that target the perceived United States and allied reliance on space, including the ability to use secure satellite communications, precision strike capabilities, and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance or ISR assets.

"The People's Liberation Army also sees counterspace operations as a means to deter and counter a possible U.S. intervention during a regional military conflict", the report said, adding that destroying satellites would make it hard for the United States to target precision guided weapons. The application on a hand-held device that gives directions, calls rideshare vehicle or locates a lost package is enabled by the Global Positioning System constellation operated by the U.S. Air Force.

Of that space junk, more than a third is from China's use of a missile in 2007 to destroy a defunct satellite and the accidental collision between a US communications satellite and a defunct Russian one in 2009, Bloomberg reported.

"Space is fundamental to USA prosperity", the Pentagon official said.

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