The US Space Force is concentrating 75 percent of its intelligence-gathering on China and Russia to keep tabs on their rapidly-evolving armed forces, according to the service’s intelligence deputy chief.
The announcement was made amid Beijing’s continuing assertion of influence in the Indo-Pacific and Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
“From an intelligence perspective … about half of what we do is focused on China. About 25 percent of what we do is focused on Russia, and a lot of that has to do because of the current conflict,” US Space Force intelligence deputy chief Maj. Gen. Gregory Gagnon said, as quoted by Breaking Defense.
He further revealed that the US now has 1,500-plus space intelligence professionals, most tasked with paying specific attention to the two other military superpowers.
The remaining 25 percent of intelligence-gathering is allotted to “the rest of the world” and the commercial sector, according to Gagnon.
‘Key Peer Adversaries’
The decision to focus on China and Russia was influenced by US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall’s statement about the two nations being Washington’s key peer adversaries.
Gagnon stated that Beijing receives persistent monitoring because of the pace at which it has been improving its space capabilities.
“About three or four years ago, the [People’s Republic of China] was just getting to 400 satellites. Today, they’re about to punch through 800,” he disclosed.
The Chinese government reportedly put up almost 200 satellites in 2022 alone, most of them with remote sensing capabilities for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
Russia also announced last year that it will prioritize developing military satellites, especially now that the country has become increasingly isolated due to its invasion of Ukraine.
‘Biggest Threats in Space’
Earlier this year, US Chief of Space Operations General Bradley Chance Saltzman warned that China and Russia remain the “most challenging threats” in space for the US military.
“We have to account for the fact that space as a contested domain has fundamentally changed. The character of how we operate in space has to shift, and that’s mostly because of the weapons (China) and Russia have tested and, in some cases, operationalized,” he told AFP.
Kendall also cautioned that Beijing has the potential to put weapons in space that could strike its enemies.
Because of this increasing threat, Washington has been urged to prepare for space warfare.