There are some major long-term investments being made by China in order to create weapons that are seemingly designed to jam and potentially destroy US satellites. China are narrowing the gap with America’s space technology. Will we finally see a day when Trump’s Space Force actually has a war to fight?
China is indeed pushing their anti-satellite weapons development capabilities that can look to dazzle and jam signals and perform kinetic weapons that can ‘kill from the ground’. Their intent is not something that is hidden as this details were revealed by Rear Admiral Mike Sturman.
This is a top challenge for the US defense when it comes to spending and planning.
China’s threats to American and Russian satellites and Russia’s additional counterspace technologies were originally amongst the primary reasons for making Space Force, now the sixth branch of the US military service.
Mike Sturman stated of the threat from China: “They look at our capabilities and want to equal our achievements in space. They naturally wish to exceed and dominate their wishes which will guarantee the freedoms to secure their objectives if they were in a fight.”
In a press release from the US office of the Director of National Intelligence stated back in April that “China will continue to develop and integrate their space services, including satellite reconnaissance, navigation and positioning. This will help their satellite communications with their weapons and command control systems that can potentially erode America’s military information advantage.”
The Making of Star Wars
Not far from the pages of a sci-fi novel, the development of these now-called ‘counterspace operations’ are “hugely integral for any military campaign” said the in DNI press release.
In Beijing, they continue in the development of destructive and non-destructive ground weapons and what they call space-based anti-satellite weapons (ASAT).
China already have ASAT missiles that can destroy low-earth orbiting satellites. They also have ASAT lasers that can blind and damage sensitive optical sensors, which were all touched upon in the annual report on the US Treat Assessment.
In response to this, the House of Appropriations Committee drafted a 2022 defense bill, which signaled the concerns the house had over what is China’s rapid and growing threat posed by these ground lasers. Adding to this, the lack of preparedness and strategy to counter risks and understand the full threat. This report was void of directly mentioning China and simply set out to provide a plan that can collect data, characterize the risk and consolidate the findings to help improve the defense infrastructure.
Is China a Force within Space Technology?
Besides making new forms of destructive space weaponry, China also pursues similar programming within both military and commercial satellites. They operate near 30 satellites for military, civil and commercial communications. In 2019, the Defense Intelligence Agency noted that Beijing also operates a small number of private military satellites and communications.
A substantial amount of activity has been recorded by the US on China that recognized the real threat, leading Mike Sturman to state: “It will be a game, one of measures and countermeasures and this will be the way for some time to come.
The response of the US to all this was the creation of the Meadowlands System. This is a jamming tool that can hinder but not destroy Russia and China satellites. The US Space Force is following this up with the production of 48 ground-based weapons which will continue over the next seven years.
It all seems very much all ‘boys and their toys’, but the race has to start somewhere because the first up will have the clearest advantage given the importance of the satellites that both run the systems, guide them and potentially harbor the weapons.