Inside the Ring: U.S. Military Satellites in Crisis

The U.S. military’s satellite communications are facing a crisis, threatened by a growing array of foreign weapons, including cyberattack capabilities, lasers, electronic jammers and anti-satellite weapons, according to a Pentagon study.

Military Gears Up for Space Warfare

Pentagon, military, and intelligence officials outlined plans on Wednesday for warfare in space and warned China not to attack U.S. satellites in any future conflict.

“The threats are real, they’re technologically advanced and they’re a concern,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, in testimony before a House subcommittee. “We are quickly approaching the point where every satellite in every orbit can be threatened.”

Obama’s Risky Fire Sale

The Obama administration recently notified Congress it will grant a high-technology arms export license to a Hong Kong satellite company with Chinese ties, a move congressional Republicans say violates U.S. sanctions on Beijing. The State Department notified the House and Senate on March 20 that it planned to issue a license under the Arms Export Control Act to Space Systems/Loral to sell restricted satellite technology to Hong Kong-based Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company, Ltd., (known as AsiaSat); Hong Kong businessman Barry Turner; and Thaicom Public Company, Ltd., in Thailand.

Space Cases

According to U.S. officials, the State Department is set to issue new export licenses for sensitive U.S. satellite technology to a French company currently under investigation for illicit transfers to China, despite expected opposition from Republicans in Congress. The department notified Congress this week that it plans to issue export licenses worth $125.3 million to 31 companies in Europe, Canada, and Israel, including the French company Thales Alenia Space, along with its U.S., Italian, Spanish, and Belgian subsidiaries.