When asked, U.S. Space Force has not revealed any kinetic, offensive space capabilities that it may be developing, but the newest military service has revealed two offensive, non-kinetic space systems that aim to detect and deny U.S. adversaries’ interference with U.S. space systems and disrupt adversaries’ space systems.
On March 9, the Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) at Los Angeles AFB, Calif., declared initial operational capability for the L3Harris [LHX] Counter Communications System (CCS) Block 10.2, what SMC termed “the first offensive weapon system in the United States Space Force.”
The system is now in operation with the 4th Space Control Squadron at Peterson AFB, Colo., and provides “quick reaction capability with direct operational support to the warfighter,” per SMC.
First introduced in 2004, CCS is a transportable space electronic warfare system “that reversibly denies adversary satellite communications,” SMC said.
Since that introduction, SMC and L3Harris have undertaken block upgrades for CCS.
Space Force is now undertaking a new $247.5 million CCS Block 10.3 Meadowlands system and L3Harris is to deliver the first four units by April, 2023.
“Commonly referred to as ‘CCS Meadowlands’ because it is not just another block to the CCS architecture, the CCS Meadowlands program significantly reduces the deployment and logistic footprint as a result of modularity and scalability enhancements,” SMC said. “It will additionally implement new technologies to enhance system performance and make it easier to add capabilities.”
Space Force plans to compete the production of 28 additional CCS Block 10.3 Meadowlands systems by October 1 of next year. Space Force requested $60.5 million for Meadowlands in fiscal 2021, and production is to continue through fiscal 2025.
“CCS Meadowlands will be more modular and scalable and provide additional frequency bands,” per SMC. “The system will reduce operational footprint from 14 racks of equipment to 2 racks of equipment.”
For Meadowlands, “the Counter Communications System (CCS) Pre-planned Product Improvement (P3I) program provides expeditionary, deployable, reversible offensive space control (OCS) effects applicable across the full
spectrum of conflict,” Space Force said. “It prevents adversary satellite communications (SATCOM) in the Area of Responsibility (AOR) including Command and Control (C2), Early Warning, and Propaganda; and hosts Rapid
Reaction Capabilities in response to Urgent Needs. Acquisition Decision Memorandum (24 April 2009) directed all capabilities identified in the October 2006 CCS Block 20, Joint Requirements Oversight Council
(JROC) approved Capability Development Document (CDD) shall be accomplished as P3I upgrades to the CCS Block 10.”
In addition, COLSA Corp.’s Bounty Hunter system, a ground-based system providing satellite communications interference detection, achieved initial operational capability on Aug. 7. Space Force requested nearly $5 million for an additional Bounty Hunter system in fiscal 2021.
Bounty Hunter “monitors electro-magnetic interference across multiple radio frequency bands,” Space Force said. “This capability allows operational commanders to locate sources of intentional or unintentional interference.”
Bounty Hunter “supports the Defensive Space Control of US systems in several AORs and provides the capacity to prevent effective adversary use of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and
Intelligence (C4I),” Space Force said. “The system was originally a response to Joint Urgent Operational Need. In 2013 AF [Air Force] Requirements Oversight Council directed incorporation of BH [Bounty Hunter] capabilities into a Program of Record.”
In May 2007, about four months after a Chinese anti-satellite test, the 16th Space Control Squadron at Peterson AFB, Colo., began to test a prototype of Kratos‘ [KTOS] Rapid Attack, Identification, Detection, and Reporting System (RAIDRS) to provide defensive counterspace for the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility.
RAIDRS Block 10 and a Bounty Hunter prototype were to be dual programs under Operation Silent Sentry, which aims to counter enemy jamming of U.S. satellite signals in the Middle East, but the Air Force canceled RAIDRS Block 10 in 2014, while Bounty Hunter was made a program of record last year.
“Chinese and Russian military doctrines indicate they view space as essential to modern warfare, and view counterspace capabilities as potent means to reduce U.S. and allied military effectiveness,” per planning guidance issued on Nov. 9 by Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond. “Modern Chinese and Russian space surveillance networks are capable of finding, tracking, and characterizing satellites in all earth orbits. Both Russia and China are developing systems using the electro-magnetic spectrum, cyberspace, directed energy, on-orbit capabilities, and ground-based antisatellite missiles to destroy space-based assets. These systems can achieve a range of effects against U.S. and allied military, civil and commercial capabilities from temporary and reversible, to irreversible degradation.”
Air Force Maj. Gen. John Shaw, the commander of U.S. Space Force’s Space Operations Command, has said that a conflict in space could start with electromagnetic interference, jamming satellites or GPS signals, or using lasers to blind space sensors temporarily (Defense Daily, Oct. 20). A conflict could then escalate to kinetic anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) to destroy on-orbit satellites, he said.
The U.S was the first nation to test anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons in 1958 with bomber-launched ASATs, and three other nations have demonstrated the ability to destroy orbiting satellites–Russia, China, and, most recently, India, with a test in March last year.