Russia and China could soon possess “destructive” space weapons. American intelligence agencies warn that they could use them against the U.S.

Both countries will have operational weapons that can fire from earth to take out satellites “in the next few years”, U.S intelligence agencies warned in a report on Tuesday.

The report warns: “Russia and China aim to have nondestructive and destructive counter-space weapons available for use during a potential future conflict”.

“We assess that, if a future conflict were to occur involving Russia or China, either country would justify attacks against US and allied satellites as necessary to offset any perceived US military advantage derived from military, civil, or commercial space systems”. “Of particular concern, Russia and China continue to launch ‘experimental’ satellites that conduct sophisticated on-orbit activities, at least some of which are intended to advance counter-space capabilities.

“Some technologies with peaceful applications — such as satellite inspection, refueling, and repair — can also be used against adversary spacecraft.”

The two United Nations Security Council members are pursuing “anti-satellite weapons as a means to reduce U.S. and allied military effectiveness,” the report said. Thus, reflecting input from organizations including the FBI, the CIA, and the National Security Agency.

Both Russia and China are hiding behind talk of backing international agreements on keeping space free of weapons. However, they are secretly working on the new forms of warfare, the report states.

Development

According to US intelligence, China has already begun initial testing for counter-space weapons.  Hence, they have formed specific military units to operate ground-based anti-satellite ballistic missiles.

“Russia probably has a similar class of system in development,” the report says.

In addition, the US believes China and Russia are building “directed-energy weapons”. They could include lasers which they might use to damage sensitive space-based equipment.

The US report comes weeks after a Russian report made similar accusations about Washington’s military intentions.

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Thumbnail image credit: Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast, 3DSculptor