Space – the final frontier. Now, another battlefield.
Another day, another Discord Leak. This time, CIA-marked secret documents reveal China’s bold plans for space buildup that include cyber attacks against enemy satellites that ‘mimic the signals that enemy satellites receive from their operators, tricking them into either being taken over completely or malfunctioning during crucial moments in combat’.
“China is building sophisticated cyber weapons to ‘seize control’ of enemy satellites, rendering them useless for data signals or surveillance during wartime, according to a leaked US intelligence report.
The US assesses that China’s push to develop capabilities to ‘deny, exploit or hijack’ enemy satellites is a core part of its goal to control information, which Beijing considers to be a key ‘war-fighting domain’.Enter your email to get the Ars Technica newsletter
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The CIA-marked document, which was issued this year and has been reviewed by the Financial Times, was one of dozens allegedly shared by a 21-year-old US Air Guardsman in the most significant American intelligence disclosures in more than a decade.”
The leaked document surfaces just as US-Chinese relations are very tense over many geopolitical differences. From Xi Jinping’s support for Russians in the Ukraine up to the feared impending Chinese invasion of Taiwan, the bilateral relations haven’t been this bad in decades.
The leaked document said this cyber capability would allow China “to seize control of a satellite, rendering it ineffective to support communications, weapons, or intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems.”
General B Chance Saltzman, commander of the US Space Force, told Congress that Beijing pursues counter-space capabilities ‘to realize its “space dream” of becoming the foremost power beyond the Earth’s atmosphere by 2045′.
While providing testimony before Congress today,@SpaceForceCSO Gen. Chance Saltzman emphasized the importance of investing in effective missile warning, space domain awareness, communication and navigation systems. #ReadyForces pic.twitter.com/UJmBqkjlTY
— United States Space Force (@SpaceForceDoD) April 18, 2023
“China continues to aggressively invest in technology meant to disrupt, degrade, and destroy our space capabilities,” Chance Saltzman said.
China’s military has deployed ‘347 satellites, including 35 launched in the past six months, aimed at monitoring, tracking, targeting, and attacking US forces in any future conflict’.
Charlie Moore, retired Air Force general:
“China understands the superiority that the United States has in the space and cyber domains, so they are very interested in not only improving their own capabilities but in capitalizing on what we refer to as a first-mover advantage in both domains.”
The Chinese military can use lasers and ‘dazzlers’ to interfere with cameras and ‘prevent the collection of satellite imagery, adding that Russia tested an anti-satellite missile in late 2021’.
The US has never disclosed whether it has similar capabilities. However, the use of lasers by American satellites is a phenomenon that’s being observed lately.
It was the first time the satellite’s lasers were caught on camera.https://t.co/gJVvhNbO4f
— Live Science (@LiveScience) April 23, 2023