Re: Anti-satellite test planned

Rohit Khare (
Wed, 3 Sep 1997 16:00:50 -0400 (EDT)

> I found this to be a bit disturbing because all I see in the future is
> increased dependence on satellites for our basic communication
> infrastructure and for air traffic control, without any rapid recovery
> capability. While I suspect the military has backup communications
> capability, a future war (like the Gulf War), the war could quickly affect
> the home front if a significant number of satellites were knocked down.
> Systems like Teledesic and Irridium would be prime targets for such an
> attack.

The army ignorance at the end of this article is the most chilling of all!

Antisatellite Laser May Undergo Tests By the Pentagon

By Thomas E. Ricks Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon hopes this month to conduct its first-ever
test of a ground-based laser against a satellite in space, but
observers said the test might well be delayed while policy makers
weigh the unusual political and economic implications of the move.

Midlevel Defense Department officials met last week to consider
whether to go ahead with an unprecedented test that would pit a
powerful military laser based at White Sands, N.M., against a small
Air Force satellite that went into orbit last year and is no longer
needed. The Pentagon didn't have any immediate comment yesterday. But
the prospect of an imminent test has provoked skeptical responses from
a variety of observers who argue that the test would carry
consequences that require consideration by the government's top
officials, not just by mid-level Pentagon bureaucrats.

"I'm not sure it is in the long-term interests of the United States to
foster a race for antisatellite systems, given that we dominate global
telecommunications with our satellite systems and with the satellites
we sell to other countries," said Brett Lambert, vice president for
space and communications at DFI International, a defense consulting
concern. Compared with the huge investments made by the commercial
sector, he noted, the U.S. military now plays a relatively small role
in space.

In addition, Mr. Lambert said, it is unclear whether the test would
violate the U.S.'s Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia.

There is no pressing need to conduct such a test, he and others said,
except that several different antisatellite technologies have been
developed to the point at which actual testing is needed to evaluate
them. Indeed, John Pike, director of space policy at the Federation of
American Scientists, argued that some people are pushing for the test
of the ground-based laser out of worry that a competing antisatellite
system that uses a rocket is moving forward and gaining in
prominence. The third major system currently being developed is the
airborne laser system, which the Air Force seems to prefer.

The major contractors on the ground-based laser system, said Mr. Pike,
are TRW Inc., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Hughes Electronics Corp.,
which is being bought from General Motors Corp. by Raytheon Co.

While the Air Force long has been interested in antisatellite systems,
the leaders of the other services, especially the Army, until recently
hadn't devoted much thought to the issue. That changed this past
winter when the Army conducted a major war game at the Army War
College in Carlisle, Pa. The people playing the U.S. side in the game
were shocked when the first move made by the enemy was to attack and
destroy many commercial satellites, as well as the Global Positioning
Satellites that the U.S. military heavily relies on for accurate
information about its positions and movement.