House Intelligence Chairman Warns of National Security Threat

( – Intelligence chiefs have warned that Russia has renewed its research into antisatellite weapons — and in the future, it could pose a real threat to the US. Our military depends on satellites to give it an advantage over likely enemies. Without the satellites, we could struggle in a major war.

On February 15, the White House revealed that Russia is working on a new antisatellite (ASAT) weapon, which national security spokesman John Kirby described as “troubling.” Kirby said the weapon hasn’t been deployed yet and is “no immediate threat,” but that isn’t entirely reassuring.

The announcement follows warnings the previous day from Representative Mike Turner (R-OH) that a “serious” new threat to our national security has emerged. It could also be linked to media reports that Russia has developed a new space-based, nuclear-armed weapon system.

The US military still has a technological edge against any possible opponent, and a lot of that is based on our network of satellites. We don’t send spy planes to fly across Russia anymore because we don’t need to; our reconnaissance satellites can do that job. Our forces can talk and share data securely anywhere in the world using satellite communications. They can also navigate and target weapons accurately with GPS. An operational Russian ASAT system would threaten all of that.

The Soviet Union started work on ASAT weapons as early as 1961. It tested a range of systems that included ground-based lasers and missiles launched from both silos and interceptor aircraft. They even armed their Almaz space station with a 23mm cannon that could have been used to destroy satellites.

All these programs were terminated at the end of the Cold War but resumed in 2015 with the launch of an ASAT-capable PL-19 Nudol missile. Now it looks like Russia is determined to push on with these weapons — and if they deploy a successful one, our military superiority is in danger for the first time in decades.

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