What time is it?
Seeing the State Department is ramping up the Russia blame-game, I would say U.S. election time with the four-yearly presidential two-horse race just round the corner.
Now both the U.S. and U.K accuse Russia of testing a weapon-like projectile in space that could target satellites in orbit.
The US State Department described the recent use of “what would appear to be actual in-orbit anti-satellite weaponry” as concerning.
Earlier Russia’s defense ministry said it was using new technology to perform checks on Russian space equipment.
The U.S. has been down this road before raising concerns about Russia’s satellite activity, although it is the first time the U.K. has made such accusations and it comes days after an inquiry said the UK government “badly underestimated” the threat posed by Russia.
In a statement on Thursday, US Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-proliferation, Christopher Ford, accused Moscow of hypocrisy after it said it wanted arms control extended to space.
“Moscow aims to restrict the capabilities of the United States while clearly having no intention of halting its own counter-space program he said.
The head of the UK’s space directorate, Air -Vice Marshal Harvey Smith, is also said to be concerned about the latest Russian satellite test, which in his view has all the characteristics of a weapon.
Russia, the UK, the US and China are among more than 100 nations to have committed to a space treaty that stipulates that outer space is to be explored by all and purely for peaceful purposes.
So it goes without saying the treaty discourages the use of weapons in orbit or in space?
The US said the Russian satellite system was the same one it raised concerns about in 2018 and earlier this year when the US accused Russia of maneuvering close to an American satellite.
In this latest incident, Gen Jay Raymond, who heads US space command, said there was evidence Russia “conducted a test of a space-based anti-satellite weapon”.
“This is further evidence of Russia’s continuing efforts to develop and test space-based systems and [is] consistent with the Kremlin’s published military doctrine to employ weapons that hold US and allied space assets at risk.”
Interest in this type of technology is growing given our reliance upon satellites for a variety of purposes such as intelligence gathering, communications, navigation and early warning systems.
Currently there is no treaty banning or limiting such weapons though a number of countries have argued for some kind of agreement to do just this.
In military terms, space has already become the new frontier with several countries organizing specific commands in their armed forces to deal with both the defensive and offensive aspects of protecting their essential space-based systems.