Intelligence Director Cites Threats to U.S. Satellites

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U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee Jan. 29 that the United States will face increased threats to its national security space assets in 2014.

“Threats to U.S. space services will increase during 2014 and beyond as potential adversaries pursue disruptive and destructive counterspace capabilities,” Clapper said in written testimony. “Chinese and Russian military leaders understand the unique information advantages afforded by space systems and are developing capabilities to disrupt U.S. use of space in conflict.”

Clapper pointed to China’s demonstration of its anti-satellite capabilities. In January 2007, China deliberately destroyed one of its defunct weather satellites known as Fengyun-1C using a ground-based, medium-range ballistic missile. 

In his testimony, Clapper said Chinese military writings “highlight the need to interfere with, damage, and destroy reconnaissance, navigation and communication satellites.”

Clapper also said Russian leaders “openly maintain that the Russian armed forces have anti-satellite weapons and conduct anti-satellite research.” He noted that Russia has satellite jamming capabilities.

U.S. Air Force leaders have repeatedly said jamming is becoming an increasing problem for U.S. military satellites.