Missile Defence and Space Weapons

Prime Minister Paul Martin and Defence Minister Bill Graham insist that the American Ballistic Missile Defense System is not associated with the weaponization of space.

Let's see what the US Military has to say about it:

The BMDS Will Evolve into a Ground-, Sea-, and Space-Based System

According to the Missile Defense Agency Fiscal 2005 budget plans, fiscal block 2006-7 will add "interceptors and networked, forward-deployed ground-, sea-, and space-based sensors", while block 2012-13 "includes the development of a space based interceptor test bed. [emphasis added]" [1]

The Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) will use low-orbiting satellites to track missiles through their entire flight. As the MDA explains, "STSS will become part of a constellation of land-, sea-, air-, and space-based BMDS sensors. [emphasis added]" [2]

The Missile Defense Agency plans to deploy a Space-Based Laser (SBL) as part of the Boost Defense Segment of its layered BMDS. This "could provide ... a highly reliable missile defense and space superiority weapon. If deployed, SBL would provide a substantial capability affording the nation continuous global presence and precision engagement at the speed of light. [emphasis added]" [3]

"Space Based Laser Technology (SBL) - Continuous global boost phase ballistic missile intercept / space control. [emphasis added]" [4]

"Directed Energy Weapons ... such as lasers, may be land, sea, air, or space based. Depending on the power level used, DEWs are capable of a wide range of effects against on-orbit spacecraft, including: heating, blinding optics, degradation, and destruction. Under certain circumstances, lasers may also be effective against space launch vehicles while in-flight. [emphasis added]" [5]

The US Military is actively planning to weaponize space.

"Space superiority provides freedom to attack as well as freedom from attack [original emphasis]." [6]

"I believe that weapons will go into space. It's a question of time. And we need to be at the forefront of that." (Peter B. Teets, Undersecretary of the Air Force) [7]

"The first principle that should guide air and space professionals is the imperative to control the high ground. ... Controlling the high ground of space is not limited simply to protection of our own capabilities. It will also require us to think about denying the high ground to our adversaries. We are paving the road of 21st century warfare now. [emphasis added]" (Peter B. Teets, Undersecretary of the Air Force) [8]

"Offensive Counterspace (OCS) Operations ... preclude an adversary from exploiting space to their advantage. OCS operations may target an adversary’s space capability (space systems, terrestrial systems, links, or third party space capability), using a variety of permanent and/or reversible means. The 'Five Ds' - deception, disruption, denial, degradation, and destruction - describe the range of desired effects when targeting an adversary’s space systems." [9]

"Department of Defense Space Policy, states: Space is a medium like the land, sea, and air within which military activities shall be conducted to achieve US national security objectives; Ensuring the freedom of space and protecting US national security interests in the medium are priorities for space and space-related activities; Purposeful interference with US space systems will be viewed as an infringement on our sovereign rights. The US may take all appropriate self-defense measures, including, if directed by the [President and/or SecDef], the use of force, to respond to such an infringement on US rights." [10]

"Space and information operations have become the backbone of networked, highly distributed commercial civilian and military capabilities. This opens up the possibility that space control - the exploitation of space and the denial of the use of space to adversaries - will become a key objective in future military competition." [11]

"A key objective for transformation [of the US Military], therefore, is not only to ensure the U.S. ability to exploit space for military purposes, but also as required to deny an adversary's ability to do so." [12]

"Space capabilities are: inherently global, a source of direct access to all regions, unaffected by territorial boundaries and jurisdictional limitations, highly asymmetric in favor of the U.S." [13]

The USAF Space Command Master Plan's explicit purpose is to "target resources toward fielding and deploying space and missile combat forces in depth, allowing us to take the fight to any adversary in, from, and through space, on-demand." [14]

"Power Projection through Space Mobility: The ability to deploy, replenish, sustain, and redeploy space-based forces in minimum time to allow them to accomplish the missions assigned to them through all phases of conflict. The US space capability rests on the foundation of assured access." [15]

"[T]he Department [of Defense] will treat information operations, intelligence, and space assets not simply as enablers of current U.S. forces but rather as core capabilities of future forces." [16]

The US Military is integrating its intelligence, offense, and defense - including missile defense - into a single unified system.

USAF Space Command plans to integrate Command and Control "for all the current and projected NORAD mission and USSTRATCOM [US Strategic Command] space operations and missile defense missions into a single functional system." [17]

"[T]he United States is developing missile defenses as a matter of priority. Integrating missile defenses with other defensive as well as offensive means will safeguard the Nation's freedom of action, enhance deterrence by denial, and mitigate the effects of attack if deterrence fails. [emphasis added]" [18]

"In a broad sense, long-term Air Force S&T is focused on: (1) moving the Service’s capabilities from a theater to a global focus; (2) integrating air, space, and information capabilities to take advantage of the synergy between these three domains; (3) rapidly projecting capability to anywhere on the Earth and into space while still retaining the ability to be expeditionary; (4) creating effects on demand anywhere, anytime; ... The ongoing transformation of the Air Force will enable the Joint Force Commander to ... Integrate air, space, and land systems across all Services." [19]

"[O]ne of the critical operational challenges of the future [is] developing the capability to continuously locate and track mobile targets at any range and rapidly attack them with precision. Overcoming this challenge will require enhanced intelligence capabilities, including space-based systems, additional human intelligence, and airborne systems that can locate and track moving targets and transmit that information to strike assets. It will require the ability to strike without warning from the air, from the sea, on the ground, and through space and cyber space. It will also require that these forces be networked to maximize their combined effects." [20]

"Major combat operations: The campaign is designed to dismantle an adversary’s system of offense and defense, preempt their freedom of action, destroy critical capabilities and as rapidly as possible isolate enemy forces. Thereby, the joint force will deny the adversary sanctuary, the ability to maneuver and reconstitute, and defeat or destroy them through the integrated application of air, ground, maritime, space and information capabilities." [21]

"Ultimately, the Space&C4ISR [command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems] CONOPS advocates the evolution of strategic, operational, and tactical capabilities that result in globally responsive and persistent forces that become the centerpiece of Joint Command and Control architectures. Space&C4ISR assets deliver decision dominance, the key to gaining supremacy in all environments while ensuring force protection." [22]

"Counterspace has offensive and defensive operations, which are dependent on robust space situation awareness (SSA). Counterspace operations are conducted across the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of war by the entire joint force (air, space, land, sea, information, or special operations forces). Within the counterspace construct, any action taken to achieve space superiority is a counterspace operation." [23]

"The warfighter doesn’t care if the information displayed in an F-22 cockpit or on a planning computer at the Air and Space Operations Center came from space, or a UAV, or a manned aircraft. Their only concerns are that they have the information when they need it!" (General Lance W. Lord, Commander, Air Force Space Command) [24]


  1. Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 Budget Estimates Press Release, Missile Defense Agency http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/library/budget/fy2005/budget05.pdf

  2. Fact Sheet: Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS), Missile Defense Agency, http://www.acq.osd.mil/mda/mdalink/pdf/stss.pdf

  3. Fact Sheet: Space-Based Laser (SBL), Missile Defense Agency http://www.acq.osd.mil/mda/mdalink/pdf/sbl.pdf

  4. Transformation Study Report, April 27, 2001, p. 64 http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jun2001/d20010621transrep.pdf

  5. Counterspace Operations, US Air Force Doctrinal Document, Aug. 2, 2004, p. 34 http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/service_pubs/afdd2_2_1.pdf

  6. Counterspace Operations, US Air Force Doctrinal Document, Aug. 2, 2004, p. 1 http://www.cdi.org/missile-defense/spaceweapons.cfm

  7. Counterspace Operations, US Air Force Doctrinal Document, Aug. 2, 2004, p. viii http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/service_pubs/afdd2_2_1.pdf

  8. Counterspace Operations, US Air Force Doctrinal Document, Aug. 2, 2004, p. 3 http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/service_pubs/afdd2_2_1.pdf

  9. Counterspace Operations, US Air Force Doctrinal Document, Aug. 2, 2004, p. 5 http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/service_pubs/afdd2_2_1.pdf

  10. Quadrennial Defense Review Report, 30 September 2001 p. 7 http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/qdr2001.pdf

  11. Quadrennial Defense Review Report, 30 September 2001 p. 31 http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/qdr2001.pdf

  12. Transformation Study Report, April 27, 2001, p. 95 http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jun2001/d20010621transrep.pdf

  13. US Air Force Space Command Master Plan FY06 And Beyond http://www.peterson.af.mil/hqafspc/library/AFSPCPAOffice/Final%2004%20SMP--Signed!.pdf

  14. US Air Force Transformation Flight Plan, November 2003, p. 42 http://www.af.mil/library/posture/AF_TRANS_FLIGHT_PLAN-2003.pdf

  15. Quadrennial Defense Review Report, September 30, 2001, p. 38 http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/qdr2001.pdf

  16. US Air Force Space Command Master Plan FY06 And Beyond http://www.peterson.af.mil/hqafspc/library/AFSPCPAOffice/Final%2004%20SMP--Signed!.pdf

  17. Quadrennial Defense Review Report, September 30, 2001, p. 42 http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/qdr2001.pdf

  18. US Air Force Transformation Flight Plan, November 2003, p. viii-ix http://www.af.mil/library/posture/AF_TRANS_FLIGHT_PLAN-2003.pdf

  19. Quadrennial Defense Review Report, September 30, 2001, p. 34 http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/qdr2001.pdf

  20. US Air Force Transformation Flight Plan, November 2003, p. 17 http://www.af.mil/library/posture/AF_TRANS_FLIGHT_PLAN-2003.pdf

  21. US Air Force Transformation Flight Plan, November 2003, P. 47 http://www.af.mil/library/posture/AF_TRANS_FLIGHT_PLAN-2003.pdf

  22. Counterspace Operations, US Air Force Doctrinal Document, Aug. 2, 2004, p. 2 http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/service_pubs/afdd2_2_1.pdf

  23. Gen Lance W. Lord, Commander, Air Force Space Command, "Transformation: The Warfighter’s Perspective", Remarks Prepared for the John R. Quetsch Memorial Lecture to the annual American Society of Military Comptrollers Professional Development Institute, Colorado Convention Center, Denver, Colo. May 30, 2002 http://www.peterson.af.mil/hqafspc/Library/Speeches/Speeches.asp?YearList=&SpeechChoice=28

Ryan McGreal
December 3, 2004

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