USSF general details how US space assets are under constant attack

| December 1, 2021

Poetrooper sends in an article from The Drive which discusses a Space Force general detailing how our satellites are under near constant threat from foreign governments, namely Russia and China.

US Space Force’s General David Thompson, the service’s second in command, said last week that Russia and China are launching “reversible attacks,” such as electronic warfare jamming, temporarily blinding optics with lasers, and cyber attacks, on U.S. satellites “every single day.” He also disclosed that a small Russian satellite used to conduct an on-orbit anti-satellite weapon test back in 2019 had first gotten so close to an American one that there were concerns an actual attack was imminent.

Thompson, who is Vice Chief of Space Operations, disclosed these details to The Washington Post’s Josh Rogin in an interview on the sidelines of the Halifax International Security Forum, which ran from Nov. 19 to 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in Canada. The forum opened just four days after a Russian anti-satellite weapon test involving a ground-launched interceptor, which destroyed a defunct Soviet-era electronic intelligence satellite and created a cloud of debris that presents a risk to the International Space Station (ISS). That test drew widespread condemnation, including from the U.S. government, and prompted renewed discussion about potential future conflicts in space.

“The threats are really growing and expanding every single day. And it’s really an evolution of activity that’s been happening for a long time,” Thompson, told Rogin. “We’re really at a point now where there’s a whole host of ways that our space systems can be threatened.”

“Right now, Space Force is dealing with what Thompson calls ‘reversible attacks’ on U.S. government satellites (meaning attacks that don’t permanently damage the satellites) ‘every single day,'” according to Rogin. “Both China and Russia are regularly attacking U.S. satellites with non-kinetic means, including lasers, radio frequency jammers, and cyber attacks, he said.”

This is not the first time American officials have publicly accused a foreign power of conducting a “reversible attack” on a U.S. satellite. In 2006, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the U.S. government’s top satellite intelligence arm, confirmed that a spy satellite had been “illuminated” by a ground-based Chinese laser. “It was a test … It makes us think,” then-NRO Director Donald Kerr said at the time, adding that there had been no impact to the satellite’s intelligence-gathering capabilities in that instance.

Thompson’s assertion that these kinds of attacks are occurring with extreme frequency is new. It underscores the rapid development and fielding by Russia and China, among others, of a wide variety of anti-satellite capabilities, something the U.S. military has called increasing attention to in recent years.

“The Chinese are actually well ahead [of Russia],” Thompson told Rogin. “They’re fielding operational systems at an incredible rate.”

More at the source. This doesn’t really surprise anyone who has been paying attention. We, as a nation and a military, have become very reliant on satellite access. We use it for navigation, communication, and reconnaissance. Any adversary would certainly be targeting our satellites at the beginning of any major conflict.

Space is very, very likely to be the site of any future Pearl Harbor. The only thing that prevents such is that it would result in retaliation (our opponents also use satellites for the same reasons) and that it would create a massive amount of space debris, which could be detrimental to their own operation.

Category: Foreign Policy, Space Force

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Anonymous

Russkies and Chicoms, always up to no good.

Hatchet

Perhaps a prescient clarion call to truly start to redesign and harden up our satellite systems..?

SFC D

Had a jamming issue in Korea, 1988. Every day at about 1300, we’d see a spike come up on the spectrum analyzer, it would sweep up and down the freq span we were using, then stop on an active freq. We’d lose that shelter for about 5 minutes, then the spike would drop. Went on for about a week, then stopped. No damage done, wasn’t any kind of intercept attempt. Just an RF spike that… Read more »

Sapper3307
Hondo

Sounds to me like a newer and longer-range version of Cold War “ferret flights”.

Sapper3307

KoB

Negating some birds was the opening salvos in Red Storm Rising.

When is Dot.gov gonna realize that neither the Russian or Chinese Communists are our friends and will do whatever it takes to destroy our way of life?

Hatchet

“When is Dot.gov gonna realize that neither the Russian or Chinese Communists are our friends and will do whatever it takes to destroy our way of life?” And while the USA is quite possibly THE wealthiest nation on God’s green Earth, another other thing to keep in mind(*shrug* perhaps only a minor point to some but..), China and Russia will spare absolutely no expense to try to destroy said way of life. They’ve had the… Read more »

Roh-Dog

I def agree with the last paragraph. I take issue with the idea Russia would like to actively change our relationship. They, like most great people/societies, would like to be left the fk alone. Yes, they are responding to the EU by tapering gas, but fk the EU for shutting down their power and becoming reliant on outside resources. (war is the allocation of resources toward violence to attain other resources, EU KNOWS this!) Most… Read more »

ChipNASA

EVERYBODY needs GPS. you want to fkck yourself?? Just saying, is all. My new customer. The Space Geodesy VLBI Very-long-baseline interferometry. NASA and other international agencies that shoot lasers to the millimeter measurement from the earth to space locations (moon, satellites, ISS etc.) platforms with known distances to measure the earth’s surface from that point. Almost all the things in space use it to track their positions, GPS, satellites, ground weather tracking, vegetation and Ice,… Read more »

Roh-Dog

Very much this!

Not to mention the micro time sync on most internet routers use GPS as a benchmark. Even a slight disturbance in the tracking of time leads to massive packet backlog/destruction.

The whole world is always milliseconds from chaos and most are blissfully unaware.

ChipNASA

AH, yes, thanks for reminding us of that. I do remember hearing about this before.
There are *so* many things we all have grown dependent on around the world.

Hack Stone

Massive amounts of space debris? Well, there is a solution for that. Get ever E-3 and below in The Space Force get on line and start policing the galaxy. Of course, that will not commence until their complete their mandatory diversity training on how having trans-galaxy service members contribute to our success in space.