Military experts warn ‘Space Pearl Harbor’ could soon break out

  • A number of leading military experts claim a space war could be imminent  
  • They say that until recently, the issue of a war in space has been cast aside
  • The Pentagon has secured funding to develop technologies that could be used to defend the US in space, like ways to keep our satellites from getting jammed 
  • Meanwhile, President Donald Trump wants to build a new military arm for space 

By Annie Palmer and Joe Pinkstone For Mailonline

Published: 23:45 BST, 6 April 2018 | Updated: 00:04 BST, 7 April 2018

Legislators and military experts have envisioned the possibility of a war in space for several decades.

Until recently, that issue has been cast aside as others like war on our own planet and terrorism have taken precedent.

A new report outlines concerns that a space war may be approaching faster than many anticipated and that world leaders like the US are woefully unprepared unlike other nations. 

A new report outlines concerns that a space war may be approaching faster than many anticipated and that world leaders like the US are woefully unprepared unlike other nations. File photo

A new report outlines concerns that a space war may be approaching faster than many anticipated and that world leaders like the US are woefully unprepared unlike other nations. File photo

The US Department of Defense has warned that the US isn’t ready for a space war, while Russia and China have developed technologies that could destroy satellites that are crucial for many everyday tasks, ranging from ATMs to apps like Uber Eats, according to Politico.

The satellites are also used for reconnaissance and guiding precision bombs, missiles and drones.

‘We are now approaching a point where ‘Star Wars’ is not just a movie,’ Steve Isakowitz, CEO of think tank Aerospace Corp., told Politico.

The Pentagon has set aside billions of dollars to ‘harden’ its defenses against anti-satellite weapons and training troops to survive in space.

These concerns have been laid out for many years, dating back to the 1980s.

‘If the U.S. is to avoid a ‘Space Pearl Harbor’, it needs to take seriously the possibility of an attack on the U.S. space system,’ former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wrote in a 2001 report, according to Politico.

President Donald Trump has cast a renewed focus on the issue of war in space, saying we need to build a ‘space force’ that would serve as a separate branch of the US military.

‘My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air and sea,’ Trump said in March.

‘We have the Air Force, we’ll have the space force,’ he added. 

The US Department of Defense has warned that the US isn't ready for a space war, while Russia and China have developed technologies that could destroy satellites that are crucial for many everyday tasks, ranging from ATMs to apps like Uber Eats

The US Department of Defense has warned that the US isn’t ready for a space war, while Russia and China have developed technologies that could destroy satellites that are crucial for many everyday tasks, ranging from ATMs to apps like Uber Eats 

President Donald Trump has sought to secure $12.5 million for military space efforts. A bulk of the budget calls for upgrading defense mechanisms for the Air Force's 31 GPS satellites

President Donald Trump has sought to secure $12.5 million for military space efforts. A bulk of the budget calls for upgrading defense mechanisms for the Air Force’s 31 GPS satellites

Set to be modelled after the Marines, the Space Corps would be tasked with keeping the US ahead of its superpower rivals in the event of a war.

The idea of creating the first new branch to the US military in 70 years encountered significant resistance and was scrapped in December 2017.

Alleged restriction of funds to the other armed forces squashed the idea.

Trump has sought to secure $12.5 million for military space efforts, not including secret projects, Politico said.

A bulk of the budget calls for upgrading defense mechanisms for the Air Force’s 31 GPS satellites.

The Pentagon also hopes to create new technologies that allow the US to track all space craft in real time and make sure satellites can’t be disabled by enemies.

‘We have a president who has said now, publicly, that we have to expect that space will be a war-fighting domain,’ Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told Politico.

‘That’s a very big deal,’ she added. 

A bulk of the government's budget calls for upgrading defense mechanisms for the Air Force's 31 GPS satellites. The Pentagon also hopes to create new technologies that allow the US to track all space crafts in real time and make sure satellites can't be disabled by enemies

A bulk of the government’s budget calls for upgrading defense mechanisms for the Air Force’s 31 GPS satellites. The Pentagon also hopes to create new technologies that allow the US to track all space crafts in real time and make sure satellites can’t be disabled by enemies

 

The Air Force has been training for a war in space by conducting ‘space war games’.

One drill involved troops simulating an attack on US. satellites in 2027 and involved partnering with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK, according to Politico.

According to experts, a war in space could involve many ‘silent’ forms, like jamming a GPS satellite, conducting cyberattacks or blinding a sensor with a laser.

If a US satellite is blown up, it can create thousands of piece of dangerous space that can float around forever.

The space debris can be lethal, too: One piece of space junk the size of a fleck of paint once hit a 6-inch thick windshield of a NASA space shuttle and ended up lodging itself 3 inches deep in the glass, Politico said.

In the meantime, many legislators are urging the US and other nations to take the threat of a war in space seriously.

‘It’s just a matter of whether it happens in the next couple of years or the next five or six years,’ Rep. Mike Rogers, the Alabama Republican who chairs the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, told Politico.

‘[The Air Force always says] ‘We got this, we’re planning for this in the future,’ Rogers added.

‘But when you ask them to prioritize space this year, they say they cant.’ 

If a conflict breaks out between major powers in the future, it could be fought in the final frontier - space, according to US Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein (pictured)

If a conflict breaks out between major powers in the future, it could be fought in the final frontier – space, according to US Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein (pictured)

‘People have to remember when it comes to fighting a war, our eyes and ears are in space.’

‘We can’t let adversaries take our eyes and ears out,’ he concluded.

US Air Force chief, General David Goldfein, also claims space warfare is a real possibility ‘within a matter of years’.

The US will need new tools, specialist training and billions of dollars in funding to prepare for combat in orbit, he claims.

US Air Force Chief of Staff General Goldfein was speaking at the Air Force Association’s 34th annual Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition in Orlando.

‘[It’s] time for us as a service, regardless of speciality badge, to embrace space superiority with the same passion and sense of ownership as we apply to air superiority today,’ General Goldfein said.

General Goldfein argues that the US Air Force is best placed to protect American interests in space.

He said: ‘I believe we’re going to be fighting from space in a matter of years.

‘We are the service that must lead joint war fighting in this new contested domain. This is what the nation demands.’ 

In 2017 a movement from politicians to create a new military branch, the Space Corps, was squashed. General Goldfein claims that the US Air Force is best placed to protect American interests from rivals such as China and Russia 

In 2017 a movement from politicians to create a new military branch, the Space Corps, was squashed. General Goldfein claims that the US Air Force is best placed to protect American interests from rivals such as China and Russia

In order to protect ‘contested environments,’ the US Air Force will need to exercise competency in ‘multi-domain operations,’ he said.

‘I look forward to discussing how we can leverage new technology and new ways of networking multi-domain sensors and resilient communications to bring more lethality to the fight,’ said General Goldfein.

General Goldfein claims there needs to be investment in training of specialist space operatives.

‘We need to build a joint, smart space force and a space-smart joint force,’ he said.

Despite ambitions to create space soldiers, it is unlikely to happen soon or come cheaply.

As reported in Spacenews, the USAF is asking for $8.5 billion (£6.1 billion) for space programs in the 2019 budget, of which $5.9 billion (£4.2 billion) would go to research and development.

The rest would go on acquiring and launching satellites.

Over the next five years it hopes to spend $44.3 billion (£31.7 billion) on development of new space systems, which is 18 per cent more than last year’s estimate. 

If a US satellite is blown up by enemies in a war in space, it can create thousands of piece of dangerous space that can float around forever

If a US satellite is blown up by enemies in a war in space, it can create thousands of piece of dangerous space that can float around forever

Earth’s orbit is home to an estimated 150 million pieces of space junk.

Satellites, asteroids and remnants of past missions have left the galactic space around Earth littered with trash.

The uninhibited movement of these objects in the vacuum of space could wreak havoc if scattered through space in a violent war.

Shrapnel travelling at thousands of miles an hour could destroy sensitive equipment used for communication and GPS on Earth.

Peter W. Singer, fellow at New America and author of Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, told Gizmodo:  ‘When you think of how dependent the US military is on satellites for everything from its communication and navigation to command and surveillance, we are already fighting in space, even if it’s not like the movies depicted.

‘If we were ever to fight another great power, like a China or Russia, it is likely the opening round of battle would be completely silent, as in space no one would hear the other side jamming or even destroying each other’s satellites.’

This article (Military experts warn ‘Space Pearl Harbor’ could soon break out) was originally published on Daily Mail and syndicated by The Event Chronicle

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