Shanahan: Next Big War May Be Won or Lost in Space

Wars have been fought on land, on the sea and in the air. But the next conflict may be a war in the immediate area above the breathable atmosphere, amid the satellites now circling Earth, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan said today.

Shanahan spoke during the 35th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, an event that brought representatives from the space community to one place to discuss and focus attention on space-related issues and promote dialogue.

The secretary told attendees from both the military and the private sector that U.S. competitors already are gearing up for conflicts overhead.

“Weapons are currently deployed by our competitors that can attack our assets in space,” Shanahan said.

Both China and Russia have weaponized space in ways that put existing U.S. space capabilities at risk, he said. The Chinese have developed jamming capability that can affect U.S. satellite communications; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets; and the GPS. China also is deploying directed-energy weapons and has developed advanced hypersonic weapons the United States can’t track. The Russians, he said, are doing much of the same.

“The threat is clear: we’re in an era of great power competition, and the next major conflict may be won or lost in space,” Shanahan said. “Because of their…

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