Moscow relying on satellites to gather intelligence after recent anti-satellite weapons test
Russia is employing a significant portion of its space assets to gather intelligence and conduct airstrikes in Syria, underscoring Moscow’s reliance on the military use of spacecraft, according to reports.
Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff for Russia’s military, said last month that Moscow is directing 10 satellites, including some with civilian uses, to conduct reconnaissance in Syria, locate targets, and enhance communications among Russian armed forces, the Daily Beast reported. Those assets constitute more than 10 percent of Moscow’s space warfare systems.
“Ten imagery and electronic warfare reconnaissance satellites, including civilian-use spacecraft, have been involved in reconnaissance,” in Syria, Gerasimov told reporters.
One Russian propaganda outlet boasted that “Russia now fields one of the largest and most effective satellite groups in the world, and it has reached a peak of activity amid the military operations in Syria.”
The world’s leading militaries, including U.S. armed forces, increasingly rely on satellites to collect intelligence and facilitate operations among various branches. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the United States possesses the world’s largest collection of spacecraft with more than 400 satellites, about half of which can be used for military purposes. Russia is second with 89 satellites, followed by China with 35.
U.S. defense officials have raised concerns about Russia and China’s development of anti-satellite weapons systems, which could disrupt operations by the militaries of adversaries and create debris clouds that threaten all spacecraft. Both nations have tested their versions of direct ascent anti-satellite missiles in the last two months.
Gen. John Hyten, commander of Air Force Space Command, said last week that Russia and China’s construction of “kinetic energy anti-satellite weapons” poses long-term problems for space travel.
“It creates an environment that will be there for decades, if not centuries,” he said. “And you can’t get rid of it.”
“So I don’t want to go down that path, and Russia and China are going down that path,” he added.
Full article: Russia Using Space Warfare Systems in Syrian War (Washington Free Beacon)