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Russia & China Seeking to Become Leading Space Powers, US Defense Intelligence Agency Claims

Sputnik News

Kiril Kurevlev

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Russia and China seek to become leading space powers and intend to create new global space norms to undercut the United States' global leadership, the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) said on Tuesday.

"Beijing and Moscow seek to position themselves as leading space powers, intent on creating new global space norms. Through the use of space and counterspace capabilities, they aspire to undercut US global leadership," the agency said in a new report on US challenges to security in space.

Moreover, the report noted that the combined space fleet of Russia and China grew by 70% between 2019 and 2021, while from 2015-2018, the two countries collectively increased their fleets by more than 200%.

"Between 2019 and 2021, the combined operational space fleets of China and Russia have grown by approximately 70 percent. This recent and continuing expansion follows a period of growth (2015-2018) where China and Russia had increased their combined satellite fleets by more than 200 percent," DIA said in the report.

According to the press release upon the report's publication, in general, the document outlines that space and counterspace threats constitute a serious threat to the US and its allies. It not only focuses on Chinese and Russian capabilities in development, but it also studies North Korea's and Iran's space threats.

According to the report, both China and Russia have built "robust and capable" space capabilities, including intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance from space.

Furthermore, according to the agency, current systems, such as space launch vehicles and satellite navigation constellations, are being steadily improved.

"These capabilities provide their militaries with the ability to command and control their forces worldwide and also with enhanced situational awareness, enabling them to monitor, track, and target US and allied forces," the document reads.

The agency concluded that Chinese and Russian space surveillance networks can locate, track, and characterize satellites in all Earth orbits, with both space operations and counterspace systems supported by this capability.

Both countries are also working on jamming and cyberspace capabilities, directed energy weapons, on-orbit capabilities, and ground-based anti-satellite missiles with a variety of reversible and irreversible effects, according to the DIA.

US Advantage in Space Encourages Russia & China to Challenge It

"The advantage the United States holds in space—and its perceived dependence on it—will drive actors to improve their abilities to access and operate in and through space," the report noted.

"Chinese and Russian doctrine indicate that they view space as important to modern warfare and view counterspace capabilities as a means to reduce US and allied effectiveness," the senior official said, per the press release. "China views space superiority as part of the ability to control the information sphere and that is a key component of modern warfare."

At the same time, according to the officials, Russia "sees space as a warfighting domain, and winning the battle in orbit will be decisive in future warfare."

Also on Tuesday, the senior defense analyst for space and counterspace for the agency, Keith Ryder, claimed that Russia and China have plans to explore and exploit the natural resources of the moon and Mars over the next 30 years.

"Both nations seek to broaden their space exploration initiatives together and individually, with plans to explore the moon and Mars during the next 30 years, and if successful, these efforts will likely lead to attempts by Beijing and Moscow to exploit the moon's natural resources," Ryder said during a press briefing.

The United States, China, and Russia respectively are the countries with the most functioning satellites. American leadership poses "a challenge" to Russia and China, according to DIA officials, who expect them to continue developing countermeasures to American capabilities.

According to the DoD official also quoted in the release, when Americans think of space, they think of NASA and space exploration, but they do not consider everything that space has to offer in their daily lives. The GPS constellation, which is managed by the country's Air Force, enables the application on handheld devices that "gives directions, calls rideshare cars or locates a lost package."

"Space is fundamental to US prosperity," the Pentagon official said. "The United States harnesses the benefits of space for communications, financial transactions, public safety, weather, agriculture, navigation and more. Additionally, there is a wave of exciting commercial technologies and investments in space that are expanding the potential opportunities, the benefits we can all enjoy."

Earlier in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the US sanctions on the country's space industry, imposed after it started the special military operation in Ukraine in late February, are an attempt to curb the development of Russia.

© Sputnik

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