A new Pentagon report has warned that China and Russia were both developing space capabilities to threaten the US, including lasers that could target and destroy American satellites.
“China and Russia, in particular, are developing a variety of means to exploit perceived US reliance on space-based systems and challenge the US position in space,” the Defence Intelligence Agency report said on Monday.
The report titled, “Challenges to Security in Space”, examines Russian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean space capabilities, CNN reported. US satellites play a critical role in everything from navigation, weapons targeting and intelligence gathering, including keeping tabs on North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and monitoring Russian and Chinese military activity.
They also house sensors involved in detecting enemy missile launches. 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.
It said both Beijing and Moscow were “likely” pursuing “laser weapons to disrupt, degrade, or damage satellites and their sensors”.
“China likely will field a ground-based laser weapon that can counter low-orbit space-based sensors by 2020, and by the mid-to-late 2020s, it may field higher power systems that extend the threat to the structures of non-optical satellites,” the report said.
President Donald Trump’s administration is actively considering placing advanced sensors in space as part of its recent Missile Defence Review, which was unveiled last month.
The report warned that China also has an operational missile capable of hitting satellites in low-
Earth orbit while Russia is in the process of developing one.