Monday, January 18, 2021

Russian Anti-Satellite Test Shocks The US; Seeks Weapons To Jam Russian, Chinese Satellites

The space race between the US and Russia is set to get more complicated. On one side, the US is exploring ways of jamming Chinese and Russian satellite while on the other side, Russia recently fired an anti-satellite missile that the U.S. Space Force considers a threat to American orbital assets. 

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As per reports in Bloomberg, the US is developing an arsenal of 48 weapons that can provisionally jam Chinese and Russian satellites. Made by Florida based technology company, L3Harris Technologies Inc, the first system is operational is expected to be delivered over the next seven years as the US Space Force has already taken delivery of 16 of them.

A new light-weight system, known as Meadowland, that is proficient in adding updated software and able to freeze more frequencies is also under development. The space force that was formed last year is also the sixth unit of the US Military. They mainly focus on defending US satellites and on organizational questions about budget and relationship with the Air force.

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A unit head in the combat systems branch of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Colonel Stephen Brogan said — Nothing else they were doing in Space Force was offensive or where they were going after an adversary. The jamming systems were designed to interfere with communication satellites and not those for data relay or taking photographs, he added.

The US defense officials have always spoken about the need to weaponize space and turn it into a battlefield and add more hazardous space debris. In a statement, the Space force said: ” China and Russia have weaponized space with the intent to hold American space capabilities at risk.” The statement supports the decision of the US to build space weapons on the grounds of self-defense.

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Emphasizing on the fact that the jamming will not cause space junk, Brogan said it emits energy designed to cause temporary, “reversible” interference. The decision has attracted a lot of opinions from advocates of preserving space as a weapons-free domain, say the new U.S. jamming system risks escalation, even if it’s not designed to destroy satellites.

Russia carried a direct-ascent anti-satellite missile system test which is designed to annihilate satellites in low Earth orbit.  This test was preceded by Moscow’s on-orbit test maneuvers of two satellites that “exhibited characteristics of a space weapon,” which Washington has been closely following, the U.S. Space Force said in a statement.

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The U.S. Space Force also expressed serious concerns about this recent missile test. “Russia’s DA-ASAT test provides yet another example that the threats to U.S. and allied space systems are real, serious and growing,” Raymond said. “The US is prepared and determined to deter Russian aggression and defending the nation, our allies, and the U.S. interests from hostile acts in space.”

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This has become disturbing for the U.S. as both Russia and China are aggressively pursuing their space programs and offensive capabilities in low earth orbit. The recent anti-satellite tests by Russia could add to political tensions between Washington and Moscow as the former has been accusing the latter of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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