Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 28, 2003 · Page 5
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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 5

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Monday, July 28, 2003
Page 5
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A- 5. ,?OnriH in rnnnn Three general types of space weapons are being developed or satellites, and those that would attack targets on Earth. Existing coordinated military operations linking forces and equipment on fUujJUlId lil UiJciCQ envisioned by Pentagon planners: those that would defend satellites that provide communications or munitions guidance the ground, in the air and up in space. against ballistic missiles; those that would attack or defend would be upgraded. The aim would be to provide closely 4 f-v. ..ft o , : N I"! U.S. weapons J in black v. Q T'F Enemy weapons .L..2J in grey "V. PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE U MONDAY, JULY 28, 2003 ' r o : . it? Communications satellite links space, air, land and sea forces and coordinates their "1. Airborne laser shoots a beam at a missile heading toward U.S. soon after launch. 1. 2. U.S. ship between U.S. and enemy land shoots a missile to intercept enemy missile. 3. Space based laser hits enemy missile. Source: Post-Gazette research Anti-satellite weapons launched from 2. Weapons high - flying plane that could destroy missiles enemy satellite. platform shoots Orbiting platform could at enemy ship, guide huge tungsten rods into underground bunkers. GPS satellites help U.S. bomber guide bombs. the lead for space Greg Laser. If it proves reliable, it could be deployed in three or four years. Housed in a modified Boeing 747, the airborne laser is designed to cruise at 40,000 feet and engage tactical ballistic missiles like the Scud shortly after liftoff. If a missile is lazed for 3 to 5 seconds, its oxidizer or fuel tank would explode, destroying the missile and spreading debris over the launch site. Lasers that work in the atmosphere would work even better in space. Air refracts and weakens laser beams, and a great deal of power is required to punch through it. President Ronald Reagan conceived of space-based lasers as a key element of his "Star Wars" defense against intercontinental ballistic missiles, but they have proved difficult to develop because of the need to push their heavy power sources into orbit. Besides destroying enemy ICBMs, space-based lasers would also be designed to disrupt or destroy enemy satellites and knock out high- flying enemy aircraft or cruise missiles. Satellite killers, 'bodyguards' The Air Force has plans for a variety of weapons to protect U.S. satellites, and to destroy or disable enemy satellites. They are known collectively as anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons. Some would be based in space. Others would be on the ground, on ships, or mounted on airplanes. Some would be directed energy weapons (lasers or high-powered microwaves). Some would have explosive warheads, and some would destroy a target by running into it. An ASAT weapon that could be used for both defense and offense is described in an Air Force 2025 study. "Satellite bodyguards" would consist of approximately five satellites placed in close proximity to the satellite be Russia and China have proposed extending the outer space ban to all weapons, but the United States has resisted, preferring to explore its options. Even if there is no legal barrier to putting weapons in space, it would be better to let sleeping dogs lie, Hitchens wrote in her paper for the Center for Defense Information. "There is little hard evidence that any other country or hostile non-state actor possesses either the technology or the intention to seriously threaten U.S. military or commercial assets in space." If the United States does put weapons in space, she added, other nations would be compelled to follow suit. Clearly, the actual deployment of U.S. space weapons would create further tensions with allies and other nations, which already have risen over what they consider unilateral U.S. actions, especially in invading ing tect and ily a Victor, Steve ThomasPost-Gazette. protected. Some would be de- ' coys. Others would be "hunter- killers," armed with directed energy weapons to blind or destroy enemy ' ASAT weapons. The "hunter-killer" satellites would be designed to de- . space-based threats themselves . receive warnings from Earth. Unmanned aerial vehicles The Air Force is working on a fam- ' of "long loiter" Unmanned Aerial .. Vehicles (UAVs): one for reconnais- " sance, another to strike targets and "mother ship" a UAV itself , which would deploy and recover ; smaller combat vehicles. The "mother ship" would store solar energy and transfer it to vehicles. The "Strike" UAV would be able to, loiter over a target for 24 hours or more. It would carry missiles and bombs for precision strikes on ; ' ground targets but would have only -limited air-to-air capability. The more ambitious "Uninhabited " Combat Aerial Vehicle" could be , , used either for reconnaissance or attack. It would contain "multispectral" sensors optical, infrared, laser, radar, etc. and a variety of preci-1 sion-guided weapons to attack ground targets. This vehicle also ... could jam enemy transmissions and protect U.S. transmissions from elec- tronic countermeasures. . . I Also under consideration are UAVs that could airdrop supplies to troops from high altitudes. - UAVs operate in the atmosphere, but must be controlled through satellites if they are to operate at ' ranges beyond line of sight, approximately 130 miles. ByJack Kelly, Iraq. Both the diplomatic and finaiv-; cial ramifications at a time of deep-' ening deficits would give Congress pause, as well. ; Arms control remains the best, way to protect American security, . argues Ambassador Thomas Gra; ' ham of the Eisenhower Institute; '. ; ',. But the arms race already has' started, said Frank Gaffney, head of t the Center for Security Policy. As a-deputy assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan administrationi-, he co-wrote a report to Congress on ) the futility of arms control in space; i "Our enemies understand our der pendency on space and are deter- mined to interfere with our use oL space, with potentially devastating effect," Gaffney warned. "We need-to be able to counteract that." Jack Kelly can be reached at : -jkelly(i post-gazette.com or 412- l -. 263-1476. ' -. TAKE pcr .; SELECT DIAMONDS, EMERALDS, RUBIES, SAPPHIRES, CULTURED PEARLS, I8K GOLD AND ESTATE JEWELRY. U.S. bolts to in war plans SPACE FROM PAGE A-1 ry in Iraq hints at the potential of space power. "If you ask what was the difference between Iraq's army and America's Army, the big difference was satellites," said John Pike of GlobalSecu-riry.org. "It's why the United States is unbeatable on a conventional battlefield. It's why the United States is the sole remaining superpower. It's why we frighten the living daylights out of the rest of the planet" Satellites allowed U.S. forces to locate Iraqi forces, coordinate ground and air attacks and guide warheads to their targets. "Our side knew where all of our forces were at any given moment, and the other side did not," said Steven Aftergood, a researcher for the Federation of American Scientists. "Space dominance wins wars because it overcomes the two fundamental impediments to victory famously summarized by the 19th-century theorist Karl von Clause-witz as 'fog and friction,' " said science writer Bruce Sterling. "In a fog of low quality or nonexistent information, warriors can't see allies or enemies. Amid the friction of hostile onslaughts, they can't hit the adversaries they manage to see. These are the classic military problems. Having an overhead view makes them the other guy's problem." For the foreseeable future, "the other guy" will have to face this formidable U.S. advantage. , "We are so dominant in space that I pity a country that would come up against us," said Maj. Gen. Franklin Blaisdell, director of space operations for the Air Force, eight days before Operation Iraqi Freedom began. The Bush administration is laying the groundwork to eventually expand and entrench that dominance. Seeking supremacy ' Last year, President Bush made explicit the goal of maintaining U.S. rMitary superiority over any other nation or group of potential adversaries. He has not yet committed the country to deploying weapons in space, and any major space systems would require the approval of Congress and future administrations. But the Pentagon is moving forward on many fronts in the beliefthat space is key to "full spectrum dominance." Three key supporters of exploiting the U.S. lead in space warfare are Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Before joining the Bush administration, Rumsfeld headed an advisory commission that mapped out many of the space warfare plans the . Pentagon is now exploring. Cheney was secretary of defense during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when satellites demonstrated their military effectiveness in targeting and communications. Myers once headed the Air Force Space Command. ' U.S. space power appears to be developing much in the way air power did. Airplanes in World War I were used first for reconnaissance and communications. Machine guns were added for self-defense and to attack enemy airplanes. Later, bombs and missiles were developed so that airplanes could protect troops and attack targets on the ground. In a similar transition, U.S. satellites have provided military reconnaissance and communications since the late 1960s. They've been directing munitions to their targets since the Gulf War. In the past year, unmanned aerial vehicles have fired missiles at terrorists in Yemen. Pushing such vehicles into orbit, or attaching weapons to satellites, would complete the transformation. Space weapons can be divided into three categories: those that would defend against ballistic missiles; those that would attack or defend satellites, and those that would attack targets on Earth. Boeing is already building a prototype Airborne Laser a modified 747 designed to shoot a laser beam from its nose and blow up ballistic missiles in their boost phase. Assuming the technology works, the next step could be putting a laser in oit, where it could be aimed at en emy by the in spc Closer to operational readiness is a hypersonic bomber which could attack nearly any target in the world within four hours from bases in the United States. The FALCON (an acronym for Force Application and Launch from the Continental United States) would be sent into the upper atmosphere by a boost vehicle and cruise at an altitude of 1 00,000 feet at speeds up to 1 2 times the speed of sound. The first flight demonstration is scheduled for 2006. Besides being able to engage a target faster than conventional bombers, the FALCON would be virtually invulnerable. No fighter aircraft or anti-aircraft missile could fly as high, and at Mach 12, the FALCON could outrun antiaircraft missiles. No foreign bases would be needed because the FALCON'S range and speed would allow it to be based on U.S. soil. Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs is already thinking about a follow-on to FALCON a genuine space plane that would fly even higher and faster, stay up longer and carry more weapons. "Once a target is identified, the space plane can respond from the U.S. and strike worldwide targets in under an hour," SpaceCom researchers said in a white paper last year. . A key advantage of a space plane, the writers said, is its weapons could enter the atmosphere over a target, so there would be no need to seek overflight permission from other countries. "Technology exists today to create this capability and evolve it now," they wrote. Space lasers 'The Air Force soon will begin integrated testing of its first Airborne satellites with ground-based aircraft and other weapons, and sub-orbital systems would be as effective at attacking ground targets. Rapid U.S. advancements in the ability of unmanned aerial vehicles to coordinate reconnaissance information and attack targets, unmatched by any potential adversary, also might slow any need to lift such systems into space. America's closest competitor in space is China, which has an ambitious military program and a vigorous commercial launch business. China is developing military satellites and several types of antisatellite weapons, according to China analysts. But China hasn't even put its first astronauts into orbit yet it hopes to do so this fall and its manned spacecraft is the Shenzou, a knock-off of the Russian Soyuz. Russia has the know-how to compete militarily in space, but lacks the money. It is expected to spend on space systems this year only about one-tenth of the $3 billion China has budgeted. That compares with a U.S. budget of $23 billion for only two of its myriad space-related programs NASA and missile defense. The European Union possesses the money and expertise to send weapons into space, but European nations have limited defense expenditures to the point they already have fallen far behind the United States in military technology. Should they be banned? Political and diplomatic hurdles pose the most significant obstacles to a full blown U.S. space warfare program. The most serious legal barrier was removed when President Bush in 2001 exercised the U.S. option to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty with Russia, which was negotiated with the former Soviet Union. The ABM treaty sharply limited the number of land-based anti-ballistic missile sites the two nations could build, and it forbade testing of sea-based or space-based ABM sys-. tems. The 1967 Outer Space Treaty, of which the U.S. is a signatory, tonnas fjnvernments from Dlacine "nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer snace in anv other manner. The U.S. space weapons being considered are not "weapons of mass destruction," so they would not violate the treaty, although many argue they would violate its spirit. The treaty also says, "The ex-nlnration and use of outer sDace ... shall be carried out for the. benefit and in the interests of all countries. Possible weapons Snapshots of U.S. space weapons envisioned or under development: 'Rods from God' In April, within 15 minutes of receiving a report that Saddam Hussein had entered a restaurant in Baghdad, a B-1B bomber dropped four 2,000-pound satellite-guided bombs on the place. It now appears Saddam slipped out of the building by a secret exit. But if one space-based weapon now being researched had been orbiting above Iraq and had worked as envisioned Saddam almost certainty wouldn't have got away. Colloquially called "Rods from God," this weapon would consist of orbiting platforms stocked with tungsten rods perhaps 20 feet long and one foot in diameter that could be satellite-guided to targets anywhere on Earth within minutes. Accurate within about 25 feet, they would strike at speeds upwards of 12,000 feet per second, enough to destroy even hardened bunkers several stories underground. No explosives would be needed. The speed and weight of the rods would lend them all the force they need. This principle was applied in Iraq to destroy tanks that Saddam's forces shielded near mosques, schools or hospitals. U.S. aviators used concrete practice bombs. Jerry Pournelle, a science writer and chairman of the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy, came up with the idea, which he originally named "Thor" after the Norse god of thunder. The Pentagon won't say how far along the project, or variants of the idea, may be in development. omy and U.S. military operations are heavily dependent on satellites. In the most recent comprehensive analysis of the commercial space business alone, a group headed by KPMG Peat Marwick in 1997 estimated worldwide revenues at $77 billion in 1996, growing to $121 billion by 2000. But this understates the importance of satellites to U.S. Commerce. "Every day billions of dollars move around this country on what are private company networks," said Richard DalBello, president of the Satellite Industry Association. "When you go to Wal-Mart to buy a pair of sneakers, the credit card goes up to the satellite, gets validated and approved. Then the same satellite tells Wal-Mart it just sold a pair of sneakers at your neighborhood store, and Wal-Mart adjusts its inventory accordingly." Significant hurdles Significant technological and financial hurdles would have to be overcome before space could be weaponized. Many experts, given the size of the U.S. economy and the quality of U.S. technology, think this could be done fairly quickly. Others disagree. "It wouldn't be very difficult at all" for the United States to put weapons in space, said John Thompson, a former Canadian army officer who is managing director of the MacKenzie Institute, a Toronto-based think tank which studies global conflicts. Thompson recalled how in the 1960s both the United States and the Soviet Union examined ways to put nuclear weapons in space before such weapons were banned by treaty, and the United States has lifted scores of technologically advanced payloads into space. The chief barriers to weaponizing space are political, not technological, Thompson said. Theresa Hitchens, vice president of the Center for Defense Information, demurs. "There are serious, fundamental obstacles to the development of both kinetic kill weapons and lasers both for use against targets in space and terrestrial targets not to mention the staggering costs associated with launch and maintaining systems in orbit," she wrote in an analysis for the think tank last year. Costs to develop national missile defense alone have run into the tens of billions of dollars, with the Defense Missile Agency seeking an annual appropriation next year of $7.7 billion. Maj. William Spacy, in a 1999 Air War College paper, said there is simply no need for an aggressive U.S. effort to militarize space because it's easier and cheaper to protectU.S. missiles, satellites, aircraft, perhaps ground targets eventually. A variety of antisatellite weapons could destroy, blind or jam enemy satellites. They could be launched from the ground, from high-flying aircraft or from other satellites. Some might be designed to simply crash into enemy satellites. Lasers might work best, because by blinding rather than destroying satellites, they would not fill lower Earth orbits with debris that other spacecraft might run into. Orbiting weapons capable of attacking Earth targets could include lasers, missiles or non-explosive projectiles like the so-called "Rods from God" proposal an orbiting platform that would send satellite-guided tungsten rods screaming toward Earth at a moment's notice. Simply virtue of their speed and weight, rods could destroy hardened bunkers four stories underground. Most of these weapons are in relatively early stages of research and development, and many may never pan out for technical, political or financial reasons. But the Pentagon seems determined to offer some of these space tools to U.S. policy makers within the decade. The master plan Last October, in a move that em- Ehasized the importance of space in ow the Pentagon sees the future of warfare, the U.S. Space Command was merged with U.S. Strategic Command into an organization that now controls all U.S. nuclear and space forces. "The missions of SpaceCom and StratCom have evolved to the point where merging the two into a single entity will eliminate redundancies the command structure and streamline the decision-making process," Rumsfeld said at the time. One of the largest components of the new StratCom with 40,000 airmen and civilians is Air Force Space Command, headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. The Space Command's Strategic Master Plan calls for the United States, by 2025, to be able to strike any target in the world from space within minutes, to protect U.S. systems in space from hostile forces, and to deny space access to potential enemies. Space power enthusiasts see the development of space weapons as inevitable, as necessary to protect satellites vital to the U.S. economy and as a way to ensure U.S. military supremacy. Lt. Col. Thomas Bell, in a 1999 paper for the Air War College, wrote, "It is inevitable mankind will weaponize space, and equally likely that weaponization will occur with maturing of specific technologies over the next 30 years." The first, country to put weapons in space, he noted, may also be the last, because it will be in a position to deny the use of space to lagging competitors. "If America doesn't weaponize space, an enemy will," according to Peter Teets, Undersecretary of the Air Force and director of the National Reconnaissance Office, which manages the spy satellites. "What will we do five years from now when American lives are put at risk because an adversary uses space-borne imagery collectors commercial or homegrown to identify and target American forces?" Teets askedat an Air Force Association symposium in January. "What will we do 10 years from now, when American lives are put at risk because an adversary chooses to leverage the Global Positioning System or perhaps the Galileo constellation to attack American forces with precision?" The Rumsfeld commission, in its unanimous report to Congress in January 2001, warned of a potential "Pearl Harbor" in space: "Those hostile to the U.S. possess, or can acquire on the global market, the means to deny, disrupt or destroy U.S. space systems by attacking satellites in space, communications links to and from the ground or ground stations that command the satellites and process their data." An attack in space could be dev-i astating because both the U.S. ecoiV W 'MS'': SAKS FIFTH AVENUE 1 INQUIRE ABOUT THE SAKS FIFTH AVENUE MAJOR PURCHASE ACCOUNT DEFERRED BIIUNO PROGRAM. SAKS.COM REDUCTION OFF REGULAR PRICES DESIGNER COLLECTION JEWELRY EXCLUDED. '", , . NO ADJUSTMLN1S TO PRIOR PURCHASES. 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