To beef up the military defenses of Russia in near-earth orbit, the Eurasian giant reactivated a global network of Soviet observatories to monitor objects close to Earth, including US, NATO, and Israeli spy satellites, according to a state research institute.
The document, which was obtained from the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics, states that the observatories were reactivated in former Soviet Union member states, and also in Bolivia and Switzerland.
Russia will be able to use new laser weapons to knock hostile satellites, spaceships, and other objects from near-earth orbit. Russia’s military has in fact reportedly moved a step closer to this reality with the country’s engineers creating such a laser.
A source back in March told Russian media agency Interfax that weapons maker Almaz-Antey had “completed work on the anti-satellite complex” which includes a laser and ground control equipment.
“The development of this complex took place, all the work done will allow to make a step forward in the creation of such aircraft,” the source said.
According to Interfax, defence companies have been working on the plane-mounted laser, which if confirmed to be true, will be capable of hitting enemy satellites.
Russia will “actively use the developments gained in the creation of the aircraft with laser weapons A-60” it said.
In addition, eight more outposts were stationed in western Russia, Moldova and Mexico to cover the entire geostationary orbit above the equator.
The network keeps its attention focused on at least 5,000 objects cataloged in its database, including satellites, spacecraft and space debris, in addition to collecting data from new launches.
This comes as the US leadership has plans to introduce a “US Space Force” by 2020, which was already announced by president Donald Trump in June. US Vice President Mike Pence said the Space Force would consist of an elite corps of soldiers trained to fight in space, and a space command that would design military strategies for warfare beyond the atmosphere.
The Hill reported that the US currently has around 859 satellites in orbit, 166 of which are owned and operated by the military, with experts believing the number of satellites in orbit will increase by thousands over the next decade, helping to drive what could become an industry worth trillions of dollars.
Many in Congress remain concerned that a Space Force will create additional costs and bureaucracy in an already very bureaucratic defense department, and could instigate, rather than deter, retaliatory policies from adversaries. However, top Pentagon officials who initially raised concerns regarding the establishment of a “space corps,” including Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, have since walked back their stance, the Hills report continued.
Therefore, it must be questioned whether Russia’s initiative is the beginning of its own so-called Space Force to challenge the US push to have complete supremacy over space.