Pentagon warns Russia, China developing low-orbit anti-satellite weapons

A Pentagon intelligence report is warning that Russia and China are developing weapons that could threaten U.S. satellites in low orbit around Earth.

The Joint Staff Intelligence Directorate, otherwise known as J-2, said in its report that “China and Russia will be capable of severely disrupting or destroying U.S. satellites in low-earth orbit” in the next several years.

Both countries could have an ASAT (anti-satellite) capability in place by 2020, the report warned.

In May 2017, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats issued a similar, though less specific, warning.

“We assess that Russia and China perceive a need to offset any U.S. military advantage derived from military, civil, or commercial space systems and are increasingly considering attacks against satellite systems as part of their future warfare doctrine,” Coats said. “Both will continue to pursue a full range of anti-satellite weapons as a means to reduce U.S. military effectiveness.”

Experts on the subject say that ASAT isn’t new. They noted that both the United States and the Soviet Union developed weapon systems to disrupt space-based military and civilian assets in case of war. [source]

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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