“Adversaries are leveraging space … targeting and extending the range of their weapons,” General Saltzman said.
“It’s really the change that’s happening within the domain.”
Countries are increasingly secretive about their military activities in space, but the race is such that in 2019, when the Pentagon launched its space force, it predicted that Russia and China could overtake the United States.
Saltzman rejects the idea that Washington is standing.
But the fight has evolved from the idea of destroying satellites with missiles or kamikaze satellites to the idea of finding ways to damage them with laser weapons or powerful microwaves.
“I’m always going to make sure I maintain the capability to perform the most critical functions, such as national command and control, or nuclear command and control,” the general said.
The war in Ukraine served as a reminder of the fundamental importance of space in conflicts today and in the future.
“Space is essential to modern warfare,” Saltzman said.
“You can attack space without going (to) space, through cyber networks or other vectors. We have to make sure we protect all these opportunities.”
Increased military activity, combined with increased commercial production, however, raises potential issues of collateral damage, destructive debris, and, more broadly, international codes of conduct.
Saltzman never held talks with his Chinese and Russian counterparts, his aides told AFP. In Munich, he met the Norwegian Minister of Defense and participated in a panel.
“We talked about responsible behavior,” he said. “There’s a proper way to behave in space that doesn’t cause debris, doesn’t disrupt, has safe distances and safe trajectories, and we communicate when we have problems.”
Space will become “more and more congested,” he added.
“If we can operate with a clear understanding of what the standards are, we will be much safer.”