Russian Federation challenges United States defense in space, developing capabilities

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The growth of China's space capabilities and the need to help safeguard USA satellites have been cited by the Trump administration as a reason why the United States needs a Space Force.

Russian Federation and China have active counterspace programs.

China is second only to the United States in the number of operational satellites, the report added.

"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.

Of about 21,000 large objects in space that are least 10 centimeters (4 inches) in size that are tracked and cataloged in Earth's orbit, only about 1,800 are active satellites, according to the defense agency. But Rep. Mike Rogers, then-chairman of the US House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, told CNN in 2018 'the future of war will be fought in space.' 'Russia and China are surpassing us in space capabilities, and we need to dedicate a separate force exclusively with a space mission, ' he said.

Both countries have established their own global positioning system satellite networks.

China and Russian Federation are developing capacities that could challenge U.S. positions in outer space, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency said in a report on Monday, noting particular concern about lasers that could damage Washington's satellites.

China's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said the U.S. allegations were "groundless", as cited by Bloomberg. "These capabilities provide their militaries with the ability to command and control their forces worldwide, and with enhanced situational awareness enabling them to monitor, track and target USA and allied forces". On the other hand, the US has defined space as a combat territory, announced the formation of independent space force, and continuously carried out space combat exercises. She said such developments were "more likely to turn into reality the risks of weaponizing outer space and making it a battlefield".

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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.

One threat is a result of the successes in space.

China's debris technology is "dual-use because it could be used to damage another satellite", according to the Defense Intelligence Agency.

In 2003, China became the third country to achieve independent human space flight with the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft, commanded by astronaut Yang Liwei.

Space is the common property of all mankind, not the private property of the Americans, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a briefing.

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.

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

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