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.”
China’s military is building up space warfare forces with missiles, military satellites, and electronic systems designed to attack U.S. satellites and space-transiting precision strike vehicles, according to a congressional report.
The Obama administration is opposing House legislation that would loosen restrictions on exports of U.S. satellites that were imposed after two U.S. companies illegally improved China’s strategic missiles through satellite launch deals in the 1990s.
China’s People’s Liberation Army is preparing to destroy U.S. computer and network infrastructure in future attacks and knock out satellites with microwave pulses, according to recently translated Chinese military writings.
China is building space weapons designed to defeat U.S. and allied long-range missiles, and U.S. plans to loosen controls on satellite exports likely will boost Beijing’s space warfare programs, according to a Obama administration report made public on Wednesday.
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.
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.
The State Department is set to sanction a major French aerospace defense firm for their refusal to provide the U.S. government with data on restricted U.S. technology contained in satellites they sold to China in violation of U.S. export controls.