American spies expressed concern over the risks in space as Russia and China continue to develop weapons. Furthermore, the StratCom chief has warned that the two countries have hypersonic missile technology that the United States might not be able to catch up to or even defend against.
One of the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community's strategy report for 2019 is the increasing threat of Russia and China's space weapons. Aside from becoming more powerful, space technology is also getting cheaper which means that poorer countries and non-state entities alike could potentially gain access to orbital weaponry in the future.
It was just last December when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that a new hypersonic missile system would launch in 2019. He added that the new missile technology would be part of Russia's initiative to beef up its military weaponry. He also claimed that the new hypersonic missile system could evade U.S. ballistic missile defenses.
Development of the new weapon system came following the withdrawal of the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, NPR's Lucian Kim reported from Moscow. Putin sees the plans of the Trump administration to scrap the medium-range missiles treaty as a potential trigger to a new arms race.
The U.S. intelligence community — comprising 17 agencies with prominent organizations such as the National Security Agency, CIA, National Reconnaissance Agency and the military's Defense Intelligence Agency among others — sees Russia's space weapon development similarly.
"The strategic environment is changing rapidly, and the United States faces an increasingly complex and uncertain world in which threats are becoming ever more diverse and interconnected," the report said.
Gen. John Hyten, commander of the Offutt-based U.S. Strategic Command, repeatedly warned in 2018 that America might fall behind in the development and defense against hypersonics. In March 2018, Hyten stood before Congress and said that they had watched Russia and China test such capabilities. He also warned that the United States doesn't possess any defense to counter deployment of hypersonic weapons against the country. He concluded that the response could be a deterrent (nuclear) force.
"Our adversaries are increasingly leveraging rapid advances in technology to pose new and evolving threats — particularly in the realm of space, cyberspace, computing and other emerging, disruptive technologies," the report added. It also noted that because of technological advances, new and a wide variety of actors can now access advanced capabilities previously only available to well-resourced states.
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