Russia and China are likely to be just a few years away before possessing "destructive" space weapons that could be used against the United States in a potential space conflict, a new US intelligence report revealed on Tuesday, February 13.
According to the report, both Moscow and Beijing continue to pursue "anti-satellite" (ASAT) weapons "as a means to reduce U.S. and allied military effectiveness." The report also claimed that the two United Nations Security Council members aim to possess both nondestructive and destructive "counterspace weapons" for use during future potential wars against the US.
As nations with advanced space programs continue to develop their military and space exploration technologies, the idea of using outer space in military strategic planning has gained significant momentum over the last few decades. Therefore, it goes without saying that space weapons will have a huge role to play in an all-out conflict, which risks igniting the World War 3.
"We assess that, if a future conflict were to occur involving Russia or China, either country would justify attacks against U.S and allied satellites as necessary to offset any perceived U.S. military advantage derived from military, civil, or commercial space systems," The Director of National Intelligence's report said, adding that recent military reforms in China and Russia indicated an increased focus on establishing operational forces to launch attacks against space systems.
Chinese military unit already formed!
The report, which is based on information from the FBI, the CIA and the National Security Agency, stated that China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has already formed military units and started operational training with destructive ASAT weapons like ground-launched missiles designed to damage space-based systems.
Russia, meanwhile, is also likely to have a similar class of system in development, the report said.
In addition, both countries are also said to be actively working on "directed-energy weapons" like lasers that could be used damage sensitive space-based optical sensors, including those used for remote sensing or missile defense.
"Of particular concern, Russia and China continue to launch 'experimental' satellites that conduct sophisticated on-orbit activities, at least some of which are intended to advance counterspace capabilities," the report added.
No treaty can stop space weapons?
Although Russia and China have been promoting international agreements on the non-weaponization of space and "no first placement" of weapons in space, both nations are developing many classes of weapons that may not necessarily be addressed by such proposals.
Tuesday's report coincides with other reports saying that China recently completed a test of solar-powered CH-4 Rainbow drone, which was able to fire missiles in near space while continuously flying at extremely high altitudes for over half a day.
On February 5, China also reportedly used a long-range missile interceptor to destroy a target missile in space.
Last month, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov accused the US of planning to place weapons in space. He also talked about a draft treaty that was submitted by Moscow to Washington in 2008 to maintain space as a peaceful domain.
"Regrettably, this treaty has not yet been discussed due to the U.S. position," Lavrov said. "All other countries understand the urgency of this problem but the United States continues nurturing plans to militarize outer space, in the sense of the deployment of weapons in outer space, which will, naturally, add another negative dimension to the problems of international security."