Chance Saltzman
© AP Photo/Alex BrandonU.S. Space Force Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, Chief of Space Operations, speaks during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces to examine United States Space Force programs in review of the Fiscal Year 2024 Defense Authorization Request, Tuesday, March 14, 2023, in Washington.
China's military has deployed 347 satellites, including 35 launched in the past six months, to target U.S. forces in a future conflict, the commander of the Space Force told a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

Space Force Gen. B. Chance Saltzman said Russia is also testing and deploying orbital anti-satellite weapons, extensive cyber capabilities and land-based anti-satellite missiles, electronic jammers and lasers.

China's more advanced space warfare weapons pose "the most immediate threat" to attacks in space, while less-capable Russian space assets also pose "an acute threat" of attacks or disruptions on U.S. satellites.

Comment: Is this rhetoric part of the pivot from the West's war against Russia in Ukraine, to the obvious new front against China?

Both "are intent on targeting perceived U.S. vulnerabilities and eliminating American advantage in the space domain," the four-star general told a Senate Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces hearing Tuesday. "Both expect space to be key to future warfare by enabling long-range precision strikes. Both seek information superiority through disabling an adversary's space communication and navigation systems."

Comment: It's likely Russia and China are planning defensive measures, because they know that they will need these in order to repel and neutralise attacks from the West, but as recent history shows, they're not the ones to go on the attack.

Gen. Saltzman said China has been aggressively building space weapons and technology to attack space systems and ground components. Beijing is aiming to become the world's leading space power by 2045 as part of what Chinese officials have called a "space dream," deploying lasers that can attack satellite sensors and electronic warfare jammers that can disable GPS satellites and communications satellites.

The Chinese military also has several types of ground-launched missiles capable of hitting orbiting satellites.

A third space weapon of the Chinese is orbiting satellites that can grab and crush vulnerable craft from hostile nations.

Comment: This gives us more insight into the US establishment mentality than anything else, because perhaps that's one situation it could be used for, but it's unlikely to be its main job. One would suppose it's more concerned with space junk, which poses a threat to both satellites, space exploration, and Earth.

A major concern is China's development of anti-satellite weapons to attack the highest-orbiting satellites that move with the rotation of the Earth. Gen. Saltzman said satellites in geosynchronous orbit, 22,236 miles in altitude, can each cover one-third of the earth with sensors seeking to gather photo or electronic information.

To address the threat of an attack on geostationary satellites, the Space Force is shifting to deploying large numbers of satellites hardened against attack at low-Earth orbit, including "the capacity to find, fix and track" hypersonic missiles, Gen. Saltzman said.

Protecting satellites from orbiting killer robots that can grapple satellites is more complicated.

"With regards to grappling satellites and pulling them out of orbit, [that is] much tougher to deal with when you have less-than-maneuverable, older legacy satellites," Gen. Saltzman said.

Moving to numerous, lower-orbit satellites, makes it more difficult for Chinese or Russian killer robots in space to go after "big juicy" older, high-altitude satellites, he said.

Comment: This rhetoric is really something else: 'Russian killer space robots go after big, juicy US satellites'.

Ukraine's use of large numbers of Starlink satellites for communications "is turning out to be a much tougher target" for Russian efforts to attack military communications networks, he said.

Gen. Saltzman said another area of concern is the vulnerability of satellite ground-control stations to sophisticated cyberattacks from either the Chinese or the Russians.

"The fact that we have to defend against cyber-attacks against ground networks reminds us that ground is also a part of space," he said, describing China's cyber capabilities as "extensive and dangerous."

Gen. Saltzman in his testimony and prepared statement for the subcommittee made no mention of the Space Force's development of offensive weapons, which are said to be under development in secret. The prepared statement also indicates that the Space Force has not yet formulated concepts for space warfare.

Comment: We're expected to believe they know Russia and China's plans in significant detail but the US efforts are unknown? And they can't be known anyway because the US not even 'formulated the concepts for space warfare' yet? The US, that's been waging criminal wars for most of the last century?

An indicator of China's preparations for a future war in space is the addition of large numbers of satellites that provide advanced communications and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance โ€” what the military calls ISR.

"Of China's over 700 operational satellites in orbit, 347 are [People's Liberation Army] ISR platforms providing optical, radar, and radio-frequency capabilities which track the joint force worldwide," Gen. Saltzman said. "... These space capabilities allow China to monitor, track, target and attack U.S. forces in conflict."

Comment: Could anyone blame the Chinese for wanting to keep an eye on the US?

Russian space forces have been testing and fielding orbiting anti-satellite weapons, working on extensive cyber warfare capabilities, and ground-based anti-satellite missiles, jammers, and lasers. Gen. Saltzman also disclosed that the Russian military is working on air-launched anti-satellite missiles.

Russian satellite networks provide intelligence, precision targeting and communications that provide "space-enabled targeting and attack that must be taken seriously, despite Russia's performance in Ukraine and lack of follow-through on threats to space capabilities."

The Biden administration's budget request for the Space Force for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 is $30 billion, $3.7 billion more than Congress authorized last year.