US deploys satellite jamming tech

Son of Star Wars tracks phantom menace

The US has created electronic-warfare squads capable of jamming enemy satellite transmissions. Fearful of losing its advantage of superior technology resources over its potential enemies, the US has established mobile teams equipped with electronic jamming gear capable of disrupting attempts to interfere with its satellite resources, The Washington Times reports.

"You can't go to war and win without space," Gen. Lance Lord, the four-star general in charge of the Colorado-based Air Force Space Command, told the paper. Air Force Space Command is tasked with both protecting Us satellites from attack or disruption and maintaining an offensive capability against "enemy" space hardware. Just who the enemy might be in this context isn't entirely clear but may include China and Russia.

Talk of jamming capabilities in space, together with earlier reports of space cannons, brings to mind former US president Ronald Reagan's ill-fated Star Wars program of the 1980s not to mention James Bond flicks such as You Only Live Twice. Gen Lord is keen to downplay suggestions that the US was intent in turning space into a battlefield.

"We're not talking about weaponizing* space. We're not talking about massive satellite attacks coming over the horizon or anything like that. This is really a way to understand space situational awareness, who's out there, who's operating. We understand that," he said.

Russia reportedly developed anti-satellite weapons at the height of the Cold War and China is judged to pose a threat to the US's strategic superiority in space. Unnamed officials told Washingtom Times that China has carried tested electronic signal jamming against satellites. If China has this capability then the US needs to develop countermeasures, the thinking goes. "China's had 45 successful launches since 1996. They will be a very robust and potent competitor in the future, and we want to make sure we understand who they are and how they're emerging in this business. They look at us; we look at them," the official said.

The US Space Command has a responsibility to accessing military threats. "We understand that jamming has gone on and other things have occurred, and we watch that very closely," Gen. Lord said. "If somebody is trying to use space against us, we could interrupt, in a reversible kind of way, those kind of capabilities as needed and as directed by US policy."

Anti-satellite weapons are currently limited to jamming signals sent from the ground to satellites that try to disrupt US military or civilian spacecraft, Gen. Lord concluded. ®

Bootnote

*No, it's not in our dictionary either, but we know what he means.

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