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Defense Intelligence Agency report aims to educate public on space security

14 February 2019

China is developing sophisticated space capabilities such as "satellite inspection and repair" and debris cleanup - "at least some of which could also function" as weapons against USA satellites, according to the Defense Intelligence Agency.

"China and Russian Federation, in particular, are developing a variety of means to exploit perceived United States reliance on space-based systems and challenge the USA position in space", the Defence Intelligence Agency report said on Monday.

Last month, the Defense Intelligence Agency released a report about China's military capabilities, warning that the Asian country was making advances in counterspace technology that could threaten US satellites responsible for communications, reconnaissance, Global Positioning System and early warnings of missile launches.

On Monday, the agency released an unclassified report on the security threat to the US's dominance in space.

"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.

"Challenges to Security in Space" explains why space is a "contested" domain and why other countries might attempt to disrupt USA satellites, for instance.

Such capabilities are critical in order for Russian Federation and China to successfully use a variety of systems that could eliminate or incapacitate US satellites, from directed energy weapons to anti-satellite missiles. "The report says Russian Federation and China are also developing 'inspection and servicing" satellites that could also be used to conduct attacks on satellites in orbit.

"The PLA owns and operates about half of these ISR systems, most of which could support monitoring, tracking and targeting of United States and allied forces worldwide, especially throughout the Indo-Pacific region", it said.

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This mobile, ground-based weapon system "capable of destroying space targets", the report warns, "is likely to be operational within the next several years". "'The future of war" U.S. and China have seen relations deteriorate grow across a range of fronts in the past year, from trade tensions with the Trump administration to diplomatic and military disputes.

Reacting to the report, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Tuesday: "First of all, I want to make it clear that outer space belongs to all mankind".

China's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and remote sensing (ISR) satellite fleet contains more than 120 systems - second only to the US.

One threat is a result of the successes in space.

Of about 21,000 large objects in space measuring at least four inches, about 1,800 are active satellites, according to the defense agency.

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

The report notes the space threat posed by North Korea and Iran, who have demonstrated satellite jamming as well, and touches on the growing problem of space junk.

"Space is fundamental to USA prosperity", the Pentagon official said.

Defense Intelligence Agency report aims to educate public on space security