The NATO alliance is to build a headquarters for space operations at its airbase in Ramstein in Germany, to counter a rising Russian and Chinese threat, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.
As well as a US airbase, the German facility also houses NATO’s Allied Air Command.
“Space is of great importance for what we can do on the earth — communications, navigation, cell phones, military communications, transmission of data. And, and a lot of activities on the earth at sea and on land is dependent on capabilities in space, not least satellites,” Stoltenberg said, after the first of two days of talks with allied defense ministers.
“And therefore, we have to make sure that we have safe and reliable systems in space. And that’s the reason why we also are concerned about the development we have seen that, for instance, Russia and China are now developing capabilities that can the blind destroy, for instance, satellites.”
#NATO Defence Ministers addressed deterrence, defence and burden-sharing. We took an important step by establishing a new NATO space centre, assessed how we can build up the resilience of our societies, and discussed avoiding incidents & accidents in the #EastMed. pic.twitter.com/9ssvYF6zoQ
— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) October 22, 2020
Last year NATO declared space to be a new “area of operations,” the fifth such zone after land, air, sea, and cyberspace, which was added in 2016.
The new center is to be a central point of contact to support NATO missions with communication and satellite images. It will also be a place to exchange information on potential threats to satellites.
On Wednesday, Stoltenberg stressed that NATO’s goal was “not the militarization of space”, even though alliance members such as the US and France have already established their own space forces.