US Space Force seeking alliances in Europe to guard orbit

The U.S. military’s Space Force is looking to develop partnerships with European countries to counter threats in orbit from the likes of Russia and China, according to General John W. Raymond, the Pentagon’s chief of space operations.

“We have seen what China and Russia have done in developing a suite of capabilities designed to deny our access to space,” Raymond told journalists Thursday following meetings in Luxembourg, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands aimed at building support for measures to provide “stability” in orbit.

Raymond said Beijing and Moscow had both developed jamming systems, targeted energy weapons and satellites installed with offensive weaponry, along with Earth-based missiles capable of taking out spacecraft.

“The space domain shifts from a peaceful, benign domain to [one] that is much more congested, much more competitive and much more contested,” he said.

He said the intention of the U.S. Space Force — launched at the end of 2019 — was simply to deter conflict from “beginning or extending into space,” but added that team-ups with countries are necessary to “stay ahead of a growing threat.”

France and the U.K. have also launched military space units over the last few years and Raymond said the U.S. already has a dialogue with both countries. The plan is to now widen that cooperation to include other friendly nations.

This month, Germany also officially opened its own space military unit.

“Partners are important to us, and there are opportunities for like-minded nations,” Raymond said.

The U.S. Space Force currently has 6,400 active duty staff — all officially dubbed “guardians” — helping to operate and defend military satellites along with navigation and observation systems such as the Global Positioning Service.

In 2019, NATO officially designated space its fifth official theater of conflict after air, sea, land and cyber.

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