Paul Seaburn April 27, 2020
“…expeditionary, deployable, reversible offensive space control (OCS) effects applicable across the full spectrum of conflict. It prevents adversary Satellite Communications (SATCOM) in Area of Responsibility (AOR) including Command & Control (C2), Early Warning and Propaganda, and hosts Rapid Reaction Capabilities in response to Urgent Needs.”
As reported in Popular Mechanics, that’s US Space Force-speak for its first weapon, the Counter Communications Systems (CCS) Block 10.2 – a jammer that effectively cuts the electronic cord between ground troops and the satellites they use to communicate with their generals, allies and each other. This is much more effective than trying to know out the transmitter on the ground or the satellite in space, and the latest generation of these jammers covers a greater frequency spectrum than ever before. Needless, to say, Russia is not pleased.
“We also have a lot of questions. We asked them quite a long time ago and want to have an answer after all. A full-fledged meaningful Russian-US dialogue on a wide spectrum of issues of space activities security Russian and US senior diplomats agreed on on January 16 will help resolve mutual concerns.”
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told TASS that her government is not pleased with what it perceives to be a first step towards an arms race in space. She’s right about a “race” because Russia’s military already has a similar satellite jammer that’s believed to be not as robust as the Space Force’s. Of course, this is also a war of words, as Zakharova was responding to criticism by Gen. John Raymond, chief of space operations for the Space Force, about Russia’s alleged testing of an anti-satellite missile.
“Previously, such claims were voiced by US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Ford. We have commented on each and every such anti-Russian attack which are all nothing but the United States’ attempt to divert public attention from real threats in space and to justify its moves to deploy weapons in outer space and obtain extra financing for such causes.”
That’s a diplomatic in-your-face response from Zakharova. This may seem like much ado about nothing since the satellite jammer is ground-based, but anything that’s launched must communicate with satellites to get to space. In fact, it’s becoming clear that nearly everything on Earth depends on satellites. The Space Force is part of the Air Force, so using jets to rapidly deploy the jammers around the world seems like a good idea. Meanwhile, NASA and Elon Musk (the distinction between these two is slowly beginning to blur) are covering space with satellites – perhaps in an attempt to overwhelm Russia’s anti-satellite missiles or its own jammers.
“It is obvious that serious concerns, if any, cannot be resolved by means of such statements, by means of fakes. It is necessary to use the existing channels for expert and political dialogue for that. We do have such channels and it is necessary simply to use them. Unwillingness to do so is rather an evidence of insufficiently grounded position of our American colleagues.”
Sigh. Even space cannot escape from ‘fake news’ and ‘insufficiently grounded positions’. Are we doomed to resume the Cold War’s massive arms race in space? Strategic space command. Lt. Col. Steve Brogan gives Interesting Engineering an answer.
“CCS is the only offensive system in the United States Space Force arsenal. This upgrade puts the ‘force’ in Space Force and is critical for Space as a warfighting domain.”