Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said this week that Russia and China pose threats to vital U.S. space capabilities and other U.S. technological weapons superiority.
U.S. space systems built up over decades include imaging and other spy satellites, navigation and targeting sensors and communications networks that give the United States unequaled power-projection capabilities, Mr. Work said during a speech Tuesday to a symposium called GEOINT 2015.
“These capabilities that were built up and refined over the Cold War allowed us to project more power, more precisely, more swiftly, at less cost and with less force structure and with far fewer casualties than would otherwise be possible,” he said.
But U.S. military superiority is being steadily eroded in significant ways, as states such as Russia and China field advanced weapons, he said.
Russia and China have studied U.S. war fighting and are preparing to attack space systems as a “vulnerable center of gravity for U.S. military power,” Mr. Work said.
To deal with the threat, the Pentagon is working to make space systems better able to withstand attacks ranging from ground-fired missiles and lasers to small robot satellites.
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Failing to secure these systems would have a “profound” impact, as command-and-control systems would be disrupted, the ability to detect missile launches weakened, and the accuracy of precision-guided weapons reduced. Links used for unmanned aircraft and much of the data from intelligence gathering also would be lost, Mr. Work said.
A new command center to deal with space attacks, increasing space intelligence, and a new space architecture are needed, he said.
To fund the better space defenses, the Pentagon will be spending around $5 billion on space security. Mr. Work called added funding “a big, big muscle move” in the current fiscally constrained environment.
Mr. Work described Russia as a “clear and present danger” after its aggression against Ukraine and threatening nuclear activities. China, he said, also poses military challenges but is not destined to be an enemy.
“Under any circumstances, both of these countries present us with unique and stressing military challenges,” Mr. Work said.
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