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Space Force Exists to Deal With Threats in Space Domain, Vice Chairman Says

Jan. 22, 2021 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

Threats by Russia and China to deny U.S. access and capability in space make the Space Force critical to national security, said the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, spoke at an online National Security Space Association "Space Time" event today.

Two men dressed in military uniforms work outside on communications gear.
Communications Exercise
Marine Corps Cpl. Christopher Hoang and Lance Cpl. Zachary Juteau, satellite transmission systems operators with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, perform checks on a very small aperture terminal – large during a communications exercise at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Dec. 7, 2020.
Photo By: Marine Corps Cpl. Seth Rosenberg
VIRIN: 201207-M-ON629-1012

Critical space assets include GPS; missile warning; reconnaissance; and position, navigation and timing.

"Russia and China are building capabilities to challenge us in space because if they can challenge us in space, they understand as dependent as we are in space capabilities that they can challenge us as a nation," Hyten said.

"Therefore, it is our responsibility as leaders of the defense enterprise to make sure that we continue to educate the population about the threats that we face and, then, put forth recommendations to deal with those threats in a rapid, responsive way," he said.

In a time of conflict, DOD must deny adversaries access to space while maintaining its own freedom to maneuver in that domain, he mentioned.

A satellite flies in space.
Space Satellite
The Defense Contract Management Agency’s Lockheed Martin Sunnyvale, Calif., contract management office supports the advanced, extreme high frequency satellite program.
Photo By: Defense Contract Management Agency
VIRIN: 150113-D-D0449-030C

Russia and China are both building antisatellite weapons and other military space assets at an alarmingly fast rate, he noted.

As a result, the department has to go fast in defining joint requirements and delivering capable systems to counter the threat, he said. "We accelerate because our adversaries are accelerating."

In going fast, you have to accept a certain amount of risk, he added.

Two men dressed in military uniforms kneel on the ground to work on satellite communications; mountains are in the background.
Sample Connection
Radio frequency technicians with the 47th Combat Communications Squadron establish a connection with a satellite using a GATR antenna near Caliente, Nev., Jan. 20, 2020.
Photo By: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joseph Courtney
VIRIN: 200119-F-EW539-1064C

Besides moving fast, Hyten said space systems programs need to have agility and adaptability built into them.

He noted there's bipartisan support for the Space Force, and he expects the newest service, along with Space Command, to continue to make great strides in the new administration.