U.S. to Remain Dependent on Russian Rocket Engines for Years Despite Billions Poured Into Domestic Alternatives

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is launched / Getty Images

 

Industry officials say military won’t move fully to American-built engines until at least 2024

The Pentagon will remain dependent on Russian rocket engines to launch military satellites into space through at least the mid-2020s, despite the U.S. government allocating billions of dollars to defense contractors to produce an American-made replacement.

The projection adds several years to initial targets laid out in 2014 by lawmakers and senior Air Force officials, who ordered the United States begin phasing out Russia’s RD-180 engines amid national security concerns spurred by the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea. Continue reading

Iran launches rocket in latest step toward putting military satellites in orbit

Iran announced Thursday that the country had successfully launched into space one of its “Simorgh” rockets capable of putting 250-kg satellites into orbit. No other details were given. Continue reading

China’s quiet space warfare launch poses threat to military satellites

Without fanfare and the usual media hype, China on June 29 quietly launched a sophisticated military spy satellite into outer space, marking a significant step in Beijing’s anti-satellite development.

Dubbed “Experiment 02,” the satellite is China’s second anti-satellite weapon in the near earth orbit zone where most of the world’s military satellites are. Continue reading

Russia creates new Aerospace Force service branch

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The Aerospace Forces (VKS) has been formed by the merger of the Russian Air Force (VVS) and the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces (VKO).

Speaking during a teleconference, Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu stated that “joining the Air Forces and Aerospace Defence is the best option to improve the system of aerospace defence of the country”, as reported by Russia’s TASS news agency. Continue reading

China pursuing huge South China Sea land reclamation: US

China has dramatically ramped up its land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea this year, building artificial islands at an unprecedented pace to bolster its territorial claims in the disputed area, US officials said Friday.

The rapid construction of artificial islands in the strategic waters comes to 2,000 acres (800 hectares), with 75 percent of the total in the last five months, officials said.

“China has expanded the acreage on the outposts it occupies by some four hundred times,” said a US defense official. Continue reading

Ukraine crisis in space: US takes on the Russians, only this time it’s over the International Space Station

The dispute began in April, when a leaked Nasa memo revealed that the agency would be suspending all contact with the Russian government because of the country’s “ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Although the involvement of the US government was not explicit, the space agency’s decision was widely assumed to have involved the White House and State Department. Subsequent export restrictions – more specifically, “high technology defence articles or services” – confirmed the US’s intent to punish Russia’s struggling space industry.

However, there’s one area where the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, remains king: transport. Continue reading

Experts: China Boosts Space Warfare Capabilities

U.S. military and commercial satellites highly vulnerable to Beijing’s anti-satellite missiles, killer robot satellites

China is developing anti-satellite missiles and other exotic weapons that can destroy or disrupt vital U.S. military and commercial communications, space warfare experts told Congress on Tuesday.

“The current and evolving counterpace threat posed by China to U.S. military operations in the Asia Pacific theater and outside is extremely serious,” said Ashley J. Tellis, a former State Department and National Security Council strategic specialist. Continue reading

General: Strategic Military Satellites Vulnerable to Attack in Future Space War

U.S. strategic military satellites are vulnerable to attack in a future space war and the Pentagon is considering a major shift to smaller satellites in response, the commander of the Air Force Space Command said Tuesday.

Gen. William Shelton said in a speech that China currently has a missile that can destroy U.S. satellites and warned that the threat of both space weapons and high-speed orbiting debris is growing.

The four-star general also said he is wary of the United States joining an international code of conduct for space, an initiative promoted by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The code likely would constrain the United States’ freedom of action in the increasingly contested realm of space, he said during remarks at George Washington University. Continue reading

Vulnerable Military Satellites Creating a ‘Maginot Line’ in Space (Updated)

While the possibility of anti-satellite weapons, jamming and cyber-attacks aimed at the U.S. military’s fleets of communication satellites is making them vulnerable to adversaries, declining defense budgets constitute an equal threat to the space architecture the services rely upon, according to a report released July 24.

Like the Maginot Line that gave the French a false sense of security prior to the German Blitzkrieg in World War II, the U.S. military has assumed since the end of the Cold War that no one would dare launch an physical attack on its satellites because that would violate international norms. Just as the Germans did away with such niceties and invaded France through a neighboring country, an adversary could go after one of the military’s biggest Achilles’ heels, its space-based communication system, said Todd Harrison, senior fellow for defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, and author of a new report, “The Future of Milsatcom.” Continue reading

Iran readies secret salt desert bunkers for clandestine nuclear facilities

When International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director Yukiya Amano declared Friday, May 4, that “Parchin (the suspected site of nuclear-related explosion tests) is the priority and we start with that,” he may have missed the boat. As he spoke, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak said it was possible that Iran was already putting in place the infrastructure for building a nuclear bomb in 60 days.

In this regard, debkafile’s military sources disclose that Iran had by the end of 2009 early 2012 completed the construction of a new chain of underground facilities deep inside the Dasht e-Kavir (Great Salt Desert) – all linked together by huge tunnels.

Nevertheless, Tehran keeps on putting off nuclear watchdog inspections at Parchin for three reasons:

2.  The Iranians can’t be sure they have scrubbed out every last trace of the nuclear explosives and detonators tested at the Parchin military base – even after clearing away the evidence and relocating the facility in the salt desert wastelands.

Asked to define the activities he wanted inspected in Parchin, Amano said: “We do not have people there so we cannot tell what these activities are.”  According to debkafile’s intelligence sources, while the IAEA may want hard physical evidence collected by its inspectors, US and Israeli intelligence have long possessed solid information on the illicit activities in Parchin collected by the nuclear-sensitive instruments carried by their military satellites.

One of the biggest, our sources disclose, is managed by the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, manufacturers of the ballistic missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads. US intelligence discovered in November 2010 that North Korea had transferred to Iran 19 nuclear-capable BM-25 ballistic missiles with a range of 2,500 kilometers.

Full article: Iran readies secret salt desert bunkers for clandestine nuclear facilities (DEBKAfile)

Russia to Launch 100 Military Satellites in Next Decade

Russia is planning to launch at least 100 military satellites in the next 10 years to boost its reconnaissance and missile detection capabilities, head of Russian Space Agency Roscosmos Vladimir Popovkin said on Wednesday.

“The new 100 satellites will provide us with better quality intelligence, faster and more reliable communications,” Popovkin said in an interview with Vesti 24 television.

“This will also enable us to detect the launches and track not only ballistic, but also cruise missiles, theater and tactical missiles,” Popovkin said.

Full article: Russia to Launch 100 Military Satellites in Next Decade (Global Security)