China’s recent test of a missile designed to shoot down satellites in low-earth orbit highlights a growing threat of space weapons, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command said on Tuesday.
Adm. Cecil D. Haney, head of the Omaha-based nuclear forces command, also voiced worries about the strategic nuclear forces buildup by Russia and China, and said as commander he must assume North Korea is correct in claiming to have miniaturized a nuclear warhead for its missile forces.
Haney also warned about the use of sophisticated cyber attacks by terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIS or ISIL.
“And clearly in the case of that group, being able to use it to recruit, use cyber to threaten, and those kind of things… we see more and more sophistication associated with that,” he said.
On China’s space weapons buildup, dubbed “counterspace” arms by the Pentagon, Haney said the United States needs to be ready to deal with attacks on satellites in a future conflict.
“The threat in space, I fundamentally believe, is a real one. It’s been demonstrated,” Haney said, noting China’s 2007 anti-satellite missile test against an orbiting satellite that created tens of thousand of debris pieces.
“They’ve repeated this kind of test last summer, and during that test, fortunately, they did not do a hit-to-kill kind of thing,” he said, noting that no further debris was created.
The July 23 test of the anti-satellite missile was identified by defense officials as the DN-1 anti-satellite interceptor missile. China also has a second anti-satellite (ASAT) missile called the DN-2 that was tested in 2013 and is designed to hit satellites in high-earth orbit—the location of intelligence, navigation, and targeting satellites.
Rick Fisher, a China military affairs expert, said China appears to be building an extensive space combat capability that includes ground- and space-based lasers, ground-launched anti-satellite missiles, and co-orbital weapons.
“The remainder of this decade will likely see China continue to test ground-launched ASATs and begin to test air-launched ASATs,” said Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center.
“However, Chinese sources indicate that laser-armed space platforms may not be ready until later in the 2020s,” he added. “By this time China will also have lofted a dual-use space station and may have tested dual-use space planes.”
“As a nation, we cannot simply afford to underfund our strategic capabilities, Haney said. “Any cuts to the president’s budget, including those imposed by sequestration, will hamper our ability to sustain and modernize our joint military forces and put us at real risk of making our nation less secure and able to address future threats.”
Full article: China Missile Test Highlights Space Weapons Threat (Washington Free Beacon)