NATO warns space satellites are ‘priority targets’ for enemies

NATO member states said in a report that space satellites essential for waging wars are “high priority targets” for enemy attacks.

He also raised fears that sophisticated terrorist groups or criminals planned to “target satellite navigation and commercial services”, which could cause chaos.

The report comes as tension escalates between NATO and Russia, with a senior Kremlin-linked official threatening on Friday that the military has “countermeasures that could devastate” the West.

“We have repeatedly said that if a war breaks out against us … there are all sorts of measures that could be taken,” Sergei Karaganov, chairman of the Presidium of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, told the BBC.

In the report, titled ‘Global NATO Space Policy’, military leaders raised concerns that space has been militarized by various states, although he did not name Russia or China.

“It created new opportunities but also new risks, vulnerabilities and potential threats to the alliance,” he said.

“The space capabilities of the Allies could become a high priority target given the advantages that space systems offer in the event of conflict and given the dependence of allies on these systems to enable operations.

There were growing concerns that opponents had developed “sophisticated anti-space technologies that could threaten allies’ access and freedom to operate in space” because weapons have the ability to “disrupt, degrade, deceive, deny or destroy capabilities” on which NATO “could critically depend”.

Opponents can now project their power over greater distances and with increased precision to keep up with forces on the ground, according to the report. This would mean that Russia would be able to spot troop movements by the United States or other NATO allies in support of any attack on Ukraine.

Artist's impression of space debris objects in low Earth orbit.  ESA

He admitted that satellite communications were “essential” in all NATO missions, especially for the command and control of generals leading a battle.

The training of NATO forces should be reinforced to ensure that the army can continue to operate if space support is “degraded, denied or interrupted”. It is understood that this could lead to the armed forces revisiting traditional methods of navigation, such as the use of sextants and changing methods of communication, perhaps reintroducing Morse code or light signaling.

The report suggested two methods of attack. One of them spoke of “reversible effects”, such as jamming of communications or GPS signals.

But the other said “high-end kinetic capabilities”, such as anti-satellite missiles or lasers, would produce irreversible effects that could lead to “long-term negative impacts on the space environment”, including space debris that could affect thousands of people. satellites orbiting the Earth.

Last month, Russia used a missile to destroy one of its old satellites during a test operation, creating new debris that sent panic to the International Space Station.

UAE Advanced Technology Minister Sarah Al-Amiri warned at the Davos world leaders meeting on Thursday that “space clutter” poses a serious threat to exploration.  Victor Besa/The National.

Sarah Al Amiri, the UAE’s advanced technology minister, warned at the Davos world leaders’ meeting on Thursday that “space clutter” poses a serious threat to exploration.

The alliance called for extreme caution in the face of the new form of warfare.

“Space is an inherently global environment and any conflict that extends into space has the potential to affect all users of space,” the report states.

“Free access to, exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes is in the common interest of all nations.”

She added that any hostile action against a NATO member in space could also lead to the invocation of Article 5, which says an attack on one is an attack on all.

NATO’s ruling council will now consider a range of options “across the spectrum of conflict to deter and defend against threats or attacks on allied space systems”, the report concludes.

Updated: January 30, 2022, 7:48 p.m.

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