MilitaryTechnology

Secure World Foundation Releases 2023 Update to Counterspace Report

Russia has used space assets in its assault on Ukraine, including using electronic warfare capabilities against targets in orbit and interfering with European Sentinel-1 SAR satellites over the country, according to a new report evaluating the counterspace capabilities of 11 countries.

The Secure World Foundation on Friday released the 2023 version of its annual Counterspace Report, which details the space capabilities of the US as well as adversaries like China and Russia. Though multiple countries are capable of both destructive and non-destructive counterspace activities, no one has used destructive capabilities in military operations.

Counterspace= the set of capabilities or techniques that are used to gain space superiority. 

“Global Counterspace Capabilities: An Open Source Assessment” takes a look at publicly available information from 11 countries to assess their near-term and future counterspace capabilities in five categories: 

  1. Direct-ascent: weapons that use missiles to destroy satellites, but are not placed into orbit themselves
  2. Co-orbital: weapons that are placed into orbit and then attack the target by destructive or non-destructive means
  3. Electronic warfare: weapons that use radio frequency energy to interfere with satellite communications
  4. Directed energy: weapons that use focused energy (think laser, particle, or microwaves)  to harm space systems
  5. Cyber: weapons that use software/network techniques to harm computer systems

The covered countries are: the United States, Russia, China, India, Australia, France, Iran, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. 

The lowdown: The US, Russia, and China are the most advanced in their counterspace efforts, with capabilities ranging from ASAT to directed energy weapons to the capacity to develop co-orbital technologies. India’s shift from a civil to a military focus on space is relatively recent, but the country has demonstrated ASAT capability. Australia, France, Japan, South Korea, and the UK have also only recently begun expanding the military focus on space but have historically specialized in things like hosting ground infrastructure and satellites. Japan also has latent ASAT ability via its missile defense system. Iran and North Korea both have nascent space programs, but can interfere with satellite signals and jam civilian GPS signals. North Korea’s technological abilities are less well known. 

Related Stories
Military

China Moving Quickly To Boost Space Capabilities, General Says

China is advancing so “breathtakingly fast” in space that America is at risk of losing its advantage if officials don’t prioritize investment in the national security space architecture, the chief of US Space Command told Congress on Thursday. 

CivilMilitary

Congress Reveals Russia’s Possible Nuclear ASAT Plans

Congress was thrown into a frenzy yesterday amid reports that Russia is working on a space-based nuclear capability that could target satellites in LEO.

MilitaryPolaris

The State of National Security Space Policy 2024

It’s time for the four-year-old Space Force to move out of the establishment phase and work through what it really means to conduct military operations in orbit, including translating 30,000-foot doctrine to the tactical level, according to two former defense officials.

Military

Report: DoD Needs Better Plan to Partner With Allies In Orbit

A lack of cohesiveness across the US space enterprise is getting in the way of cooperation with allies, according to a report released this week by RAND.