Leaders from the military community briefed Congress on April 6 that China and Russia were seeking to Usurp the United States’ strategic advantage by disrupting its space-based infrastructure. New, more resilient satellite systems, they said, were in the works.
“Our adversaries are committed to disrupting our strategic advantage in space during crisis and in conflict,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein, commander of the Space Force Systems Command.
“We cannot afford to wait. We must be prepared and we must act now.”
Guetlein said that the Space Force and civilian partners were working to rapidly develop more resilient space architectures, including through the deployment of more numerous satellite clusters so that vital systems were not dependent on only a small number of hyper-critical satellites.
The comments came amid a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, which sought to evaluate national security-related space programs.
The subject is one of increasing importance as international competitors and potential adversaries maneuver to target U.S. space-based systems, which are responsible for maintaining a vast array of the nation’s most critical military and civilian infrastructure.
Everything from GPS to early missile warning systems relies on the continued functioning of increasingly aged satellites, which, according to top brass provide for tempting targets.
That situation has led military and political leaders alike to unite in pushing for new tech, as international rivals like China seek to extend their political and technological advantage into outer space.
“Space is no longer a benign domain,” said Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) during the briefing. “We must be prepared to defend our assets on orbit and maintain the ability to use space in support of global combatant commanders.”
Both China and Russia have made strides recently in anti-satellite weapons. China’s communist regime has also deployed dual use technologies that could be used for both civilian and military purposes. So-called space cleaner satellites, for instance, are equipped with a robotic arm, which experts fear could be used to dismantle other satellites in orbit.
Both nations have also sought to develop cyber and electronic warfare capabilities to the same end. In November, Space Force Gen. David Thompson said that Chinese and Russian systems were attacking U.S. satellites with reversible cyber and electronic capabilities “every single day.”
“Let’s speak plainly,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) during Wednesday’s hearing, “China and Russia have already weaponized space.”
“The Question left to us is what are we going to do about it?”