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US Sees Growing Threats to 'Freedom of Action' in Space

US Sees Growing Threats to 'Freedom of Action' in Space”

China is developing sophisticated space capabilities such as "satellite inspection and repair" and debris cleanup - "at least some of which could also function" as weapons against US satellites, according to the Defense Intelligence Agency.

US defense and intelligence officials say neither China nor Russian Federation has surpassed the U.S.in space capabilities, but that they are investing broadly to try to best the American military, and that they are now integrating weapons that could attack in space into their conventional units.

Of about 21,000 large objects in space that are least 10 centimeters (4 inches) in size that are tracked and cataloged in Earth's orbit, only about 1,800 are active satellites, according to the defense agency.

Iran and North Korea have also demonstrated jamming capabilities in space, the agency said.

"The People's Liberation Army also sees counterspace operations as a means to deter and counter a possible U.S. intervention during a regional military conflict", the report said, adding that destroying satellites would make it hard for the United States to target precision guided weapons. China was excluded from the International Space Station largely due to concerns over its space program's connections to the military and US legislation barring such cooperation.

The report has detailed a variety of Russian and Chinese anti-satellite weapons, including electronic warfare systems, directed-energy weapons and "kinetic" anti-satellite missiles.

"China upholds the peaceful use of outer space and opposes weaponising outer space or an arms race there", foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters at a press conference in the capital, Beijing.

"The PLA owns and operates about half of these ISR systems, most of which could support monitoring, tracking and targeting of United States and allied forces worldwide, especially throughout the Indo-Pacific region", it said.

It adds that China 'possibly already has a limited capability to employ laser systems against satellite sensors'. "Additionally, there is a wave of exciting commercial technologies and investments in space that are expanding the potential opportunities, the benefits we can all enjoy". The two major challengers discussed in the report are China and Russian Federation. "'The future of war" United States and China have seen relations deteriorate grow across a range of fronts in the past year, from trade tensions with the Trump administration to diplomatic and military disputes. "As the number of satellites grows, so does the threats posed by space debris", the official said. "That makes tracking satellites and discriminating satellites from threats and nonthreats and predicting and preventing collisions more challenging".

When Americans think of space, they think of NASA and space exploration, but they do not necessarily think of all that space brings to their daily lives, the DOD official said. "The United States harnesses the benefits of space for communications, financial transactions, public safety, weather, agriculture, navigation and more".

Space has had a profound impact on the military, the official added, allowing American service members to anticipate threats, respond to crises and to project power globally with fewer troops deployed and less collateral damage.



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