Russia and China are continually working on their space capabilities, according to new reports. Furthermore, the two countries have reportedly been working on space weapons which could threaten the interests of the United States.
Admiral Cecil D. Haney, head of U.S. Strategic Command, discussed the increasing space warfare capabilities of China and Russia during an event last week held at the Center for a New American Security. “Once thought of as a sanctuary, space is more congested, contested, and competitive than ever, and it is becoming increasingly vulnerable. Other nations understand our reliance on space and the advantages we have reaped in defense and commercial sectors,” explained Haney via Center for Strategic & International Studies.
“Adversaries and potential adversaries want to exploit those dependencies by turning them into vulnerabilities,” Haney further said. He cautioned that threats are evolving faster than the U.S. military ever imagined and that they could “potentially threatens national sovereignty and survival.” He also said that Russia and China are continually developing and showing off “disruptive and destructive counterspace capabilities.” China and Russia’s attempts to exploit could further threaten the United States and the rest of the globe.
China has reportedly been following the footsteps of Russia when it comes to directing resources to manipulate satellites. Furthermore, Beijing has already been demonstrating its capabilities to do complex maneuvers in space. Since 2015, China has been testing weapons like a new hypersonic system. It conducted test flights of its DF-ZF (previously known as WU-14) hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), according to The Washington Free Beacon. The DF-ZF refers to an high-speed missile that reportedly has the ability of breach through U.S. air defense systems via interceptor missiles.
“[U]nlike conventional reentry vehicles, which descend through the atmosphere on a predictable ballistic trajectory, hypersonic glider vehicles are almost impossible to intercept by conventional missile defense systems, which track incoming objects via satellite sensors and ground and sea radar,” explained The Diplomat’s Franz-Stefan Gady.
As for Russia, the country made it specifically clear in its 2010 military doctrine how important space capabilities are to its defense strategy. “…and Russia has publicly stated they are researching and developing counterspace capabilities to degrade, disrupt, and deny other users of space. Russia’s leaders also openly assert that Russian armed forces have anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, conduct ASAT research, and employ satellite jammers,” US Strategic Command quoted Haney.
To this, the official said that the only way to manage the threats from Russia and China is to look at the matter holistically. That is, the “spectrum of conflict” must be analyzed.