Space: The Final Military Frontier

Caption: Satellite surveying Earth (©iStock.com/Daniela Mangiuca)

 

Dependence on satellite technology has turned Star Wars into strategic reality.

Right now, unmanned killer robots hover in the skies above the Middle East, ready to rain down death from above on America’s enemies. They are guided by pilots sitting hundreds of miles away, bouncing their instructions off satellites. Smart bombs are guided within inches of their targets using America’s gps satellite-navigation system. When America’s special forces take out a high-value target, their commanders and even the president in the White House can watch and respond in real time, thanks to satellite communication. American commanders view the battlefield and watch their soldiers move across it using American surveillance and positioning satellites. They rely on this information to coordinate attacks and avoid friendly fire. American missile-warning satellites are watching the atmosphere of the entire planet for any possible missile attack on the United States or its allies.

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The China Challenge: The weapons the PLA didn’t show

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A Pentagon official said the carefully choreographed military parade through Beijing’s Tiananmen was notable for the weapons that were not shown. They include China’s growing cadre of cyber warfare forces; its ground launched anti-satellite missiles and its new ultra-high-speed maneuvering hypersonic glide vehicle, known as the DF-ZF.

All three programs remain tightly guarded secrets for the Chinese government and details about them are unlikely to be made public any time soon. Continue reading

Maneuvering Russian Satellite Has Everyone’s Attention

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WASHINGTON – A Russian military satellite launched in March has made at least 11 close approaches to the rocket upper stage that released it into orbit, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Air Force.

Such maneuvering capability is consistent with, but not necessarily indicative of, an on-orbit anti-satellite weapon.

Air Force officials previously said they were closely watching the satellite, and independent space tracking experts and policy analysts have joined the vigil. The maneuvers started in April, and the most recent occurred in early July, experts said, adding that in at least one case the satellite appears to have nudged the upper stage to a higher orbit. Continue reading

Military Gears Up for Space Warfare

New command structures, satellite defenses outlined

Pentagon, military, and intelligence officials outlined plans on Wednesday for warfare in space and warned China not to attack U.S. satellites in any future conflict.

“The threats are real, they’re technologically advanced and they’re a concern,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, in testimony before a House subcommittee. “We are quickly approaching the point where every satellite in every orbit can be threatened.” Continue reading