May 2016 – SPACE WARS – While the tensions in the South China Sea, Eastern Europe and ISIS-dominated Yemen continue to threaten world peace and stability, another bigger threat that could just as easily set off a WW3 is likely to happen at a new frontier, i.e. the space. The imminent threat of a space war in the near future seems a realistic probability as modern warfare makes use of GPS and communication satellites based in space for almost everything from tracking and navigation, besides hitting enemy targets with missiles.
With Space the ultimate high ground for today’s warriors, and given America’s success in dominating these strategic heights, China and Russia also look forward to making it the future battleground. In fact, a three way space race between these major world powers has already begun that includes development of special weapons to knock out the other’s space assets.
“The U.S., China, Russia are all working on not just using space but also taking it away from the other side,” Peter Singer, a military strategist at the New America Foundation, a Washington, D.C. think tank, told Newsweek. So military officials in the Pentagon are clearly worried about a “space Pearl Harbor,” a sneak attack on U.S. satellites that’ll cripple American forces without even a shot being fired.
The known threats include Chinese ballistic missiles that could hit U.S. satellites in low Earth orbit about 500 miles up and possibly those in high geostationary orbits some 22,000 miles above the Earth. China and Russia also have ground-based lasers that can blind the camera on a reconnaissance satellite or burn up the spacecraft altogether, and experts say spacecraft-mounted lasers are just a few years away. Moscow and Beijing are also believed to be developing satellites that can disable, bump off course or destroy other satellites. Such anti-satellite warfare could cripple America’s technological edge in war reducing their technology to pre-digital levels of WWII.
Just last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a high-profile visit to air force headquarters in Beijing where he ordered his generals to sharpen the country’s defensive and offensive capabilities in space in preparation for what many Chinese military analysts believe is an inevitable war in space with the U.S.
China also has been developing anti-satellite weapons since January 2007, and carried out spectacular test in 2013, firing a missile that climbed to 18,000 miles that is high enough to take out U.S. GPS satellites. China is believed to have conducted similar tests in 2010, 2014 and 2015, leading Pentagon planners to conclude it will deploy these missiles, placing U.S. space systems under constant threat. Beijing is even ramping up its military capabilities in space, launching 142 satellites to provide intelligence, navigation, communications and weather forecasting that can “limit or prevent the use of space-based assets by adversaries during times of crisis or conflict.”
Meanwhile, Russia too is involved in developing new space weapons as it launched four military satellites in 2013 and 2014. According to Brian Weeden, a former Air Force captain specializing in space surveillance, three of the satellites have changed orbit several times. They moved close to a Russian spacecraft and even collided with it. The fourth satellite maneuvered close to several newly launched Russian satellites and came very close to two Intelsat commercial communications satellites. Weeden told Newsweek that the technology could be used for anti-satellite weapons called ASATs though they couldn’t confirm this.
Pentagon is also looking to up the ante this year as they will reportedly spend $2 billion on measures to counter threats to its national security satellites. That amount is expected to soar as part of the $22 billion set aside to maintain U.S. superiority in space in 2017. Last December, the U.S. Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs held a large-scale war game set in outer space in 2025. Some 200 U.S. military and civilian experts, as well as representatives from Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, took part.
U.S. military planners are also building defense methods ranging from adding a thick shutter to a spy satellite’s camera for protection against a laser attack to boosting a satellite’s signals to prevent jamming. Other methods include frequency hopping, which enables satellites to transmit data on alternative frequencies if some are jammed. Military officials are now seeking alternatives to GPS navigation. With such continued militarization in the space, it is high time a WW3 could go off easily with so much crowded space and any accident will cause violent outburst with so much money invested by the countries in satellites. A war in space would have staggering implications as it will likely be settled back on Earth, unleashing a full scale World War 3.
“If war does extend into space someday—and I hope it never does—the first [nuclear] response is not going to be in space,” warns General John Hyten, head of the U.S. Air Force Space Command. And he does warn so rightly as no matter how technologically advanced we get, we will just be edging out our human adversaries in a war which unfortunately would have significant casualties. –The Bit Bag