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Pentagon fears China, Russia pose challenge to US space capabilities

14 February 2019

A new Pentagon report has warned that China and Russian Federation were both developing space capabilities to threaten the USA, including lasers that could target and destroy American satellites.

Noting that both countries have developed robust and capable space services, including space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, the report said China and Russian Federation were making improvements to existing systems including space launch vehicles and satellite navigation constellations.

Both have developed space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, according to the report from the agency, which sits in the Department of Defense.

The Chinese and Russian developed military doctrines based on the idea that space is essential to modern warfare and counterspace capabilities are key to countering USA and allied military advantages, the report says.

"The use of space has greatly expanded USA military ability to project power globally", a US defense intelligence official said, adding they can do so with fewer troops deployed and therefore less risk to American service members.

If the USA really cares about the security of space, it should join China in arms control, Hua said.

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Such capabilities are critical in order for Russian Federation and China to successfully use a variety of systems that could eliminate or incapacitate USA satellites, from directed energy weapons to anti-satellite missiles.

"The DIA report made unwarranted and utterly baseless comments on the space policies of relevant countries including China", she added.

"These capabilities provide their militaries with the ability to command and control their forces worldwide with enhanced situational awareness, enabling them to monitor, track and target U.S. and allied forces", it said.

China had set up a strategic support force to integrate cyberspace, space and electronic warfare capabilities into joint military operations, it claimed.

The Chinese government has been increasingly stepping up its space program, becoming the first nation to land a probe on the far side of the moon in January.

The increase in orbiting garbage has spurred the development of space debris removal technology - but the agency warns that such technology is "dual-use because it could be used to damage another satellite".

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Space is the common property of all mankind, not the private property of the Americans, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a briefing.

Eight days later, the US shot down a failed spy satellite with a ballistic missile, something China had done the year before.

"Beijing and Moscow will continue to see space as integral to winning modern wars".

"The number of satellites and debris on orbit will grow concurrently, making tracking satellites, discriminating threats from non-threats, and predicting and preventing collisions a greater challenge", it said.

Space is the enabling domain for many capabilities, from hand-held devices to precision navigation.

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Pentagon fears China, Russia pose challenge to US space capabilities