Gen. John Raymond, chief of Space Operations for the U.S. Space Force and 2021 Wash100 Award winner, recently acknowledged that the U.S. is currently developing directed-energy systems to maintain American space superiority.
During the hearing, Rep. Jim Langevin, D-RI, asked Gen. Raymond if the U.S. was developing an adequate directed energy portfolio. Raymond responded, “Yes, sir, we are. We have to be able to protect these capabilities that we rely so heavily on.”
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has researched using space-based lasers to intercept ballistic missiles in the past and some nations have ground-based laser dazzling weapons that blind on-orbit sensors. However, Raymond’s comment at the hearing is the first time he has confirmed that the directed energy systems are under development.
A Space Force spokesperson said in a statement to C4ISRNET, “General Raymond has stated many times that China and Russia have directed energy capabilities that are designed to damage or destroy our satellites. His response to Congressman James Langevin’s question was confirming that our architecture developments in the face of these threats are appropriate.”
The federal government justified creating the Space Force and Space Command by citing Chinese and Russian anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons development. Establishment military leaders have continued to criticize adversarial ASAT development and testing.
U.S. Space Command’s Gen. James Dickinson denounced Russian direct-ascent missile tests that demonstrated the capability to destroy satellites in low-Earth-orbit and cause hazardous space debris. Another high-level space weapon concern is a Russian satellite that can fire projectiles in space. Raymond refers to the spacecraft as an on-orbit weapon system.
“Russia has made space a war-fighting domain by testing space-based and ground-based weapons intended to target and destroy satellites. This fact is inconsistent with Moscow’s public claims that Russia seeks to prevent conflict in space,” commented Dickinson after a Russian ASAT test in December 2020.
“Space is critical to all nations. It is a shared interest to create the conditions for a safe, stable and operationally sustainable space environment,” Dickenson added,