Citing growing threat from China, space force leaders say they need more money
A senior Space Force official said the service needs more money to protect US satellites as it faces a growing threat and rapid competition with China.
Gen. David “DT” Thompson, vice chief of space operations, told attendees at an event at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies in Arlington, Va., on Tuesday that there is a “tremendous need for growth” for the service to can keep pace with Chinese technology. advances.
“In 2023, you’re going to see a significant increase in resources for the United States Space Force and other space missions,” Thompson said. “I can’t speak to the current budget process we find ourselves in, but you shouldn’t expect that focus and understanding to change as we move forward.”
Read more : Space Force warned as Russia warns commercial satellites could be ‘legitimate target’
The Space Force requested $24.5 billion in its 2023 budget request, a 40% increase from the previous year. But amid rising tensions with China and new threats to satellites that are crucial to America and its allies, officials are likely to ask for even more in the years to come.
Thompson said China is developing and fielding a wide range of technologies such as jammers and lasers that could damage US satellites. Although he did not detail all of the Space Force’s capabilities, he said China’s development should be alarming.
“Are they better than us? Aren’t they as good as us? Will we win? Will they win? Are we even? I can’t say that,” Thompson said. “All I can say is that they pose a serious challenge. They pose a serious threat. They are serious about what they have to do. Their abilities are close to ours. We just have to do what we have to do.”
Of particular concern is China’s openness to potential commercial satellite targeting.
“The Chinese have publicly indicated that they will take down or attempt to take down any company, including, by name, SpaceX, if they help Taiwan in a crisis,” said Seth G. Jones, vice-president. senior chairman of the international security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Military.com told Thursday. “It’s an interesting question how the United States would react in this instance, to an attack on a U.S. or multinational space company, particularly one involved in supporting a US ally or partner. United”
In the 2022 National Defense Strategy released this week, the Pentagon said China is “deploying counterspace capabilities that can target our Global Positioning System and other space-based capabilities that support military might and daily civilian life.” “.
But the strategy did not address how the military would respond to an attack on a commercial satellite.
Some political pundits in Washington believe the Space Force is ill-equipped to deal with space threats from China and Russia.
The Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, said in its annual assessment of the Army released Oct. 18 that the new service has not shown “it is in any way ready to perform defensive and offensive counterspace operations to the degree envisioned by Congress when it authorized the creation of the Space Force.” The Foundation rated the Space Force as “weak”.
China isn’t the only looming threat in space. A Russian Federation official said this week that commercial satellites could be considered legitimate targets. Satellites have helped Ukrainians with tasks ranging from taking aerial photos to conducting offensive combat operations, Jones said.
Maj. Helen Annicelli, spokeswoman for U.S. Space Command, did not respond directly to Russia’s threats in a statement to Military.com Friday, but said the command stands ready to defend those commercial satellites.
“US Space Command remains ready 24/7 to protect and defend against threats to space architecture,” Annicelli said in an emailed statement. “Commercial space systems are an essential part of America’s critical infrastructure and are vital to our national security.”
— Thomas Novelly can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.
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