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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stuxnet Worm Used Against Iran Was Tested in Israel -

Stuxnet Worm Used Against Iran Was Tested in Israel -

Israeli Test on Worm Called Crucial in Iran Nuclear Delay

This article is by William J. Broad, John Markoff and David E. Sanger.

The Dimona complex in the Negev desert is famous as the heavily guarded heart of Israel’s never-acknowledged nuclear arms program, where neat rows of factories make atomic fuel for the arsenal.

Over the past two years, according to intelligence and military experts familiar with its operations, Dimona has taken on a new, equally secret role — as a critical testing ground in a joint American and Israeli effort to undermine Iran’s efforts to make a bomb of its own.

Behind Dimona’s barbed wire, the experts say, Israel has spun nuclear centrifuges virtually identical to Iran’s at Natanz, where Iranian scientists are struggling to enrich uranium. They say Dimona tested the effectiveness of theStuxnet computer worm, a destructive program that appears to have wiped out roughly a fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges and helped delay, though not destroy, Tehran’s ability to make its first nuclear arms.

“To check out the worm, you have to know the machines,” said an American expert on nuclear intelligence. “The reason the worm has been effective is that the Israelis tried it out.”

Though American and Israeli officials refuse to talk publicly about what goes on at Dimona, the operations there, as well as related efforts in the United States, are among the newest and strongest clues suggesting that the virus was designed as an American-Israeli project to sabotage the Iranian program.

In recent days, the retiring chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, Meir Dagan, and Secretary of StateHillary Rodham Clinton separately announced that they believed Iran’s efforts had been set back by several years. Mrs. Clinton cited American-led sanctions, which have hurt Iran’s ability to buy components and do business around the world.

The gruff Mr. Dagan, whose organization has been accused by Iran of being behind the deaths of several Iranian scientists, told the Israeli Knesset in recent days that Iran had run into technological difficulties that could delay a bomb until 2015. That represented a sharp reversal from Israel’s long-held argument that Iran was on the cusp of success.

The biggest single factor in putting time on the nuclear clock appears to be Stuxnet, the most sophisticated cyberweapon ever deployed.

In interviews over the past three months in the United States and Europe, experts who have picked apart the computer worm describe it as far more complex — and ingenious — than anything they had imagined when it began circulating around the world, unexplained, in mid-2009.

Many mysteries remain, chief among them, exactly who constructed a computer worm that appears to have several authors on several continents. But the digital trail is littered with intriguing bits of evidence.

In early 2008 the German company Siemens cooperated with one of the United States’ premier national laboratories, in Idaho, to identify the vulnerabilities of computer controllers that the company sells to operate industrial machinery around the world — and that American intelligence agencies have identified as key equipment in Iran’s enrichment facilities.

Siemens says that program was part of routine efforts to secure its products against cyberattacks. Nonetheless, it gave the Idaho National Laboratory — which is part of the Energy Department, responsible for America’s nuclear arms — the chance to identify well-hidden holes in the Siemens systems that were exploited the next year by Stuxnet.

The worm itself now appears to have included two major components. One was designed to send Iran’s nuclear centrifuges spinning wildly out of control. Another seems right out of the movies: The computer program also secretly recorded what normal operations at the nuclear plant looked like, then played those readings back to plant operators, like a pre-recorded security tape in a bank heist, so that it would appear that everything was operating normally while the centrifuges were actually tearing themselves apart.

The attacks were not fully successful: Some parts of Iran’s operations ground to a halt, while others survived, according to the reports of international nuclear inspectors. Nor is it clear the attacks are over: Some experts who have examined the code believe it contains the seeds for yet more versions and assaults.

“It’s like a playbook,” said Ralph Langner, an independent computer security expert in Hamburg, Germany, who was among the first to decode Stuxnet. “Anyone who looks at it carefully can build something like it.” Mr. Langner is among the experts who expressed fear that the attack had legitimized a new form of industrial warfare, one to which the United States is also highly vulnerable.

Officially, neither American nor Israeli officials will even utter the name of the malicious computer program, much less describe any role in designing it.

But Israeli officials grin widely when asked about its effects. Mr. Obama’s chief strategist for combating weapons of mass destruction, Gary Samore, sidestepped a Stuxnet question at a recent conference about Iran, but added with a smile: “I’m glad to hear they are having troubles with their centrifuge machines, and the U.S. and its allies are doing everything we can to make it more complicated.”

In recent days, American officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity have said in interviews that they believe Iran’s setbacks have been underreported. That may explain why Mrs. Clinton provided her public assessment while traveling in the Middle East last week.

By the accounts of a number of computer scientists, nuclear enrichment experts and former officials, the covert race to create Stuxnet was a joint project between the Americans and the Israelis, with some help, knowing or unknowing, from the Germans and the British.

The project’s political origins can be found in the last months of the Bush administration. In January 2009, The New York Times reported that Mr. Bush authorized a covert program to undermine the electrical and computer systems around Natanz, Iran’s major enrichment center. President Obama, first briefed on the program even before taking office, sped it up, according to officials familiar with the administration’s Iran strategy. So did the Israelis, other officials said. Israel has long been seeking a way to cripple Iran’s capability without triggering the opprobrium, or the war, that might follow an overt military strike of the kind they conducted against nuclear facilities in Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007.

Two years ago, when Israel still thought its only solution was a military one and approached Mr. Bush for the bunker-busting bombs and other equipment it believed it would need for an air attack, its officials told the White House that such a strike would set back Iran’s programs by roughly three years. Its request was turned down.

Now, Mr. Dagan’s statement suggests that Israel believes it has gained at least that much time, without mounting an attack. So does the Obama administration.

For years, Washington’s approach to Tehran’s program has been one of attempting “to put time on the clock,” a senior administration official said, even while refusing to discuss Stuxnet. “And now, we have a bit more.”

Finding Weaknesses

Paranoia helped, as it turns out.

Years before the worm hit Iran, Washington had become deeply worried about the vulnerability of the millions of computers that run everything in the United States from bank transactions to the power grid.

Computers known as controllers run all kinds of industrial machinery. By early 2008, theDepartment of Homeland Security had teamed up with the Idaho National Laboratory to study a widely used Siemens controller known as P.C.S.-7, for Process Control System 7. Its complex software, called Step 7, can run whole symphonies of industrial instruments, sensors and machines.

The vulnerability of the controller to cyberattack was an open secret. In July 2008, the Idaho lab and Siemens teamed up on a PowerPoint presentation on the controller’s vulnerabilities that was made to a conference in Chicago at Navy Pier, a top tourist attraction.

“Goal is for attacker to gain control,” the July paper said in describing the many kinds of maneuvers that could exploit system holes. The paper was 62 pages long, including pictures of the controllers as they were examined and tested in Idaho.

In a statement on Friday, the Idaho National Laboratory confirmed that it formed a partnership with Siemens but said it was one of many with manufacturers to identify cybervulnerabilities. It argued that the report did not detail specific flaws that attackers could exploit. But it also said it could not comment on the laboratory’s classified missions, leaving unanswered the question of whether it passed what it learned about the Siemens systems to other parts of the nation’s intelligence apparatus.

The presentation at the Chicago conference, which recently disappeared from a Siemens Web site, never discussed specific places where the machines were used.

But Washington knew. The controllers were critical to operations at Natanz, a sprawling enrichment site in the desert. “If you look for the weak links in the system,” said one former American official, “this one jumps out.”

Controllers, and the electrical regulators they run, became a focus of sanctions efforts. The trove of State Department cables made public by WikiLeaks describes urgent efforts in April 2009 to stop a shipment of Siemens controllers, contained in 111 boxes at the port of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. They were headed for Iran, one cable said, and were meant to control “uranium enrichment cascades” — the term for groups of spinning centrifuges.

Subsequent cables showed that the United Arab Emirates blocked the transfer of the Siemens computers across the Strait of Hormuz to Bandar Abbas, a major Iranian port.

Only months later, in June, Stuxnet began to pop up around the globe. The Symantec Corporation, a maker of computer security software and services based in Silicon Valley, snared it in a global malware collection system. The worm hit primarily inside Iran, Symantec reported, but also in time appeared in India, Indonesia and other countries.

But unlike most malware, it seemed to be doing little harm. It did not slow computer networks or wreak general havoc.

That deepened the mystery.

A ‘Dual Warhead’

No one was more intrigued than Mr. Langner, a former psychologist who runs a small computer security company in a suburb of Hamburg. Eager to design protective software for his clients, he had his five employees focus on picking apart the code and running it on the series of Siemens controllers neatly stacked in racks, their lights blinking.

He quickly discovered that the worm only kicked into gear when it detected the presence of a specific configuration of controllers, running a set of processes that appear to exist only in a centrifuge plant. “The attackers took great care to make sure that only their designated targets were hit,” he said. “It was a marksman’s job.”

For example, one small section of the code appears designed to send commands to 984 machines linked together.

Curiously, when international inspectors visited Natanz in late 2009, they found that the Iranians had taken out of service a total of exactly 984 machines that had been running the previous summer.

But as Mr. Langner kept peeling back the layers, he found more — what he calls the “dual warhead.” One part of the program is designed to lie dormant for long periods, then speed up the machines so that the spinning rotors in the centrifuges wobble and then destroy themselves. Another part, called a “man in the middle” in the computer world, sends out those false sensor signals to make the system believe everything is running smoothly. That prevents a safety system from kicking in, which would shut down the plant before it could self-destruct.

“Code analysis makes it clear that Stuxnet is not about sending a message or proving a concept,” Mr. Langner later wrote. “It is about destroying its targets with utmost determination in military style.”

This was not the work of hackers, he quickly concluded. It had to be the work of someone who knew his way around the specific quirks of the Siemens controllers and had an intimate understanding of exactly how the Iranians had designed their enrichment operations.

In fact, the Americans and the Israelis had a pretty good idea.

Testing the Worm

Perhaps the most secretive part of the Stuxnet story centers on how the theory of cyberdestruction was tested on enrichment machines to make sure the malicious software did its intended job.

The account starts in the Netherlands. In the 1970s, the Dutch designed a tall, thin machine for enriching uranium. As is well known, A. Q. Khan, a Pakistani metallurgist working for the Dutch, stole the design and in 1976 fled to Pakistan.

The resulting machine, known as the P-1, for Pakistan’s first-generation centrifuge, helped the country get the bomb. And when Dr. Khan later founded an atomic black market, he illegally sold P-1’s to Iran, Libya, and North Korea.

The P-1 is more than six feet tall. Inside, a rotor of aluminum spins uranium gas to blinding speeds, slowly concentrating the rare part of the uranium that can fuel reactors and bombs.

How and when Israel obtained this kind of first-generation centrifuge remains unclear, whether from Europe, or the Khan network, or by other means. But nuclear experts agree that Dimona came to hold row upon row of spinning centrifuges.

“They’ve long been an important part of the complex,” said Avner Cohen, author of “The Worst-Kept Secret” (2010), a book about the Israeli bomb program, and a senior fellow at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He added that Israeli intelligence had asked retired senior Dimona personnel to help on the Iranian issue, and that some apparently came from the enrichment program.

“I have no specific knowledge,” Dr. Cohen said of Israel and the Stuxnet worm. “But I see a strong Israeli signature and think that the centrifuge knowledge was critical.”

Another clue involves the United States. It obtained a cache of P-1’s after Libya gave up its nuclear program in late 2003, and the machines were sent to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, another arm of the Energy Department.

By early 2004, a variety of federal and private nuclear experts assembled by the Central Intelligence Agency were calling for the United States to build a secret plant where scientists could set up the P-1’s and study their vulnerabilities. “The notion of a test bed was really pushed,” a participant at the C.I.A. meeting recalled.

The resulting plant, nuclear experts said last week, may also have played a role in Stuxnet testing.

But the United States and its allies ran into the same problem the Iranians have grappled with: the P-1 is a balky, badly designed machine. When the Tennessee laboratory shipped some of its P-1’s to England, in hopes of working with the British on a program of general P-1 testing, they stumbled, according to nuclear experts.

“They failed hopelessly,” one recalled, saying that the machines proved too crude and temperamental to spin properly.

Dr. Cohen said his sources told him that Israel succeeded — with great difficulty — in mastering the centrifuge technology. And the American expert in nuclear intelligence, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the Israelis used machines of the P-1 style to test the effectiveness of Stuxnet.

The expert added that Israel worked in collaboration with the United States in targeting Iran, but that Washington was eager for “plausible deniability.”

In November, the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, broke the country’s silence about the worm’s impact on its enrichment program, saying a cyberattack had caused “minor problems with some of our centrifuges.” Fortunately, he added, “our experts discovered it.”

The most detailed portrait of the damage comes from the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington. Last month, it issued a lengthy Stuxnet report that said Iran’s P-1 machines at Natanz suffered a series of failures in mid- to late 2009 that culminated in technicians taking 984 machines out of action.

The report called the failures “a major problem” and identified Stuxnet as the likely culprit.

Stuxnet is not the only blow to Iran. Sanctions have hurt its effort to build more advanced (and less temperamental) centrifuges. And last January, and again in November, two scientists who were believed to be central to the nuclear program were killed in Tehran.

The man widely believed to be responsible for much of Iran’s program, Mohsen Fakrizadeh, a college professor, has been hidden away by the Iranians, who know he is high on the target list.

Publicly, Israeli officials make no explicit ties between Stuxnet and Iran’s problems. But in recent weeks, they have given revised and surprisingly upbeat assessments of Tehran’s nuclear status.

“A number of technological challenges and difficulties” have beset Iran’s program, Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s minister of strategic affairs, told Israeli public radio late last month.

The troubles, he added, “have postponed the timetable.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 17, 2011

An earlier version of this story misspelled, at one point, the name of the German company whose computer controller systems were exploited by the Stuxnet computer worm. It is Siemens, not Seimens.

A version of this article appeared in print on January 16, 2011, on page A1 of the New York edition.

Hypersonic weapon: New US bomb kills long before you hear it — RT

Hypersonic weapon: New US bomb kills long before you hear it — RT:

Hypersonic weapon: New US bomb kills long before you hear it

Published: 18 November, 2011, 19:46
Edited: 19 November, 2011, 13:00

Like the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, the Pentagon's Falcon HTV-2 hypersonic plane is part of the Prompt Global Strike program (AFP Photo / Handout / Darpa)

Like the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, the Pentagon's Falcon HTV-2 hypersonic plane is part of the Prompt Global Strike program (AFP Photo / Handout / Darpa)

TAGS:Arms, Military, USA, War

The US Army has tested a hypersonic missile, which travels six times faster than the speed of sound. It is part of a larger plan to have the capability to strike any place on the planet within an hour.

The missile, called the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW), was launched from Hawaii on Thursday, the Pentagon reported. A rocket delivered it to suborbital altitude, after which the glider went for its target on the Marshall Islands, some 3,700 kilometers away.

It hit less than 30 minutes later, which means its speed was at least 7,400 kilometer per hour, or about Mach 6. An aircraft must be able to fly faster than Mach 5, to qualify as hypersonic.

A Mach number is used to describe the speed of an object or a fluid in comparison to the speed of sound in that medium. Mach 1 means the object travels at the same speed as sound. However the speed of sound may vary depending on such conditions as temperature and composition, so the speed expressed in Mach number is also variable. The now-retired Concorde supersonic passenger planes used to fly at a cruising speed of about Mach 2.

The test was aimed at gathering data on "aerodynamics, navigation, guidance and control, and thermal protection technologies," the Pentagon said.

The AHW is one of several projects of the Prompt Global Strike program. It is aimed at developing several weapons which can be launched from American territory and reach their destinations within an hour.

On August 11 the US Air Force tested another hypersonic glider called the HTV-2. It is faster than the AHW, with speeds reaching 27,000 kilometer per hour. But unlike the Army’s vehicle, it does not work well – the test was aborted due to a technical failure.

The Soviet Union developed ramjet engines capable of hypersonic locomotion and even tested one design, which successfully reached Mach 5.7. The work was stalled by the collapse of the USSR, and no weapon using this technology was ever produced.


See: Traditional Catholic Prayers: Pray for an alliance between Russia and the United States

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nuclear (and other Weapons of Mass Destruction) World War III has already started.

Link in title to FAS PDF: "The Concept of Space Combat"

Nuclear (and other Weapons of Mass Destruction) World War III has already started.

Nuclear (and other Weapons of Mass Destruction) World War III has already started. - notice that in this, President Saddam Hussein of Iraq didn't do any of the things that the West pretended he did, he was their boy after all. They knew that ahead of time. Also note that if he had taken advantage of DEFENSIVE space platform technology, HE WOULD HAVE WON THE WAR. I am sure that he was led to believe that the Americans weren't going to go as far as they did. The Amerikanski knife in the back of Iraq is just like Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus Christ. The betrayal had several elements and players in the part of Judas, Saddam and Oil and transnational drug dealing and Bush's Zapata Oil Company and the engineered attack on Kuwait and then of course 911. The innocent Iraqis and Afghanis and others are the ones who suffered and still are suffering. Concerning DEFENSIVE space platform technology, I hope those who haven't been conquered yet by unlawful invaders are paying attention.

Weapons of Mass Destruction, Nuclear and other and Space Weapons

The Concept of Space Combat

Whereas those who have the capability to control the air, control the land and sea beneath it, so in the future it is likely that those who have the capability to control space will likewise control the earth’s surface.

• Gen Thomas D. White

Chief of Staff, USAF, 1957

Imagine a different set of events leading to the 1991 Gulf War. First, imagine that Saddam Hussein was able to procure a reliable source of space-derived data.1 Or that his contract with Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) for a military reconnaissance satellite had been successful.2 Or, barring that, he might have contracted with France’s Matra Defence Space for the development and launch of a military reconnaissance version of their satellite pour l’observation de la terre (SPOT).3 Such capabilities would have allowed Saddam to monitor the deployment and beddown of all coalition forces. He could have targeted ports and airfields as forces arrived in-theater. He could have attacked Patriot batteries before they were operational. Even if he did not attack during the buildup, he would have never missed the “left hook,” which was key to the coalition strategy.

Along with the acquisition of ballistic missile technology and the development of nuclear and chemical weapons, imagine he had more aggressively pursued development of his indigenous space launch capability to launch militarily significant satellites.4 A space launch capability provides the foundation for conducting physical attacks on many military satellites, either through direct ascent or co-orbital antisatellites (ASAT). A preemptive space denial campaign could have negated US and allied capability to maintain their knowledge of the theater.5

With a space launch capability, Iraq could have had space-based weapons which could attack Persian Gulf neighbors or any member of the coalition, including the United States. Any simple reentry vehicle could have had profound psychological effects on the US population, as buzz bombs and V-2s did on the population of London in World War II. The US has never been attacked from the air and, certainly, never from space. Fortress America could have been vulnerable. At this writing, Iraq is rebuilding its ballistic missile research program at new laboratories and rebuilt research and development centers.6 Finally, imagine that the invasion of Kuwait didn’t stop at the Saudi Arabian border but pushed further south to Riyadh and beyond. Mobile Scuds could have been deployed south and used against airfields and ports, in effect strategically cutting off Saudi Arabia from the rest of the world. Without the “land carrier” of the Saudi Arabian peninsula, the strategic buildup of air and ground forces could not have occurred. In spite of the availability of aircraft carriers off the Saudi Arabian peninsula and air bases in Egypt and Turkey, and even intercontinental bombers based in the US, an air campaign would have been next to impossible to execute. Some other form of combat power “in the theater” would have been useful—perhaps precisionguided munitions based in space.

Any combination of these three scenarios would have, at least, reduced US strategic options and increased casualties. Any of these scenarios by itself would have significantly altered the outcome of the confrontation.

Today, the US has little or no way to deny space to its opponents. It has no active means of protecting its space order of battle.7 If forces are not deployed in an area of interest, a capability to strike from space might provide some strategic and tactical regional options.8

Definition and Relevance

Space combat can provide those options. Space combat employs space in the execution of missions. Space combat forces would provide commanders additional tools and methods for engaging an enemy. The missions of space denial, space strike, and space protection comprise space combat.9 Space combat is the hostile application of destructive or disruptive force into, through, within, or from space.

This definition includes actions taken against space systems that are



not in space.10 Space denial is the hostile application of destructive or disruptive force against enemy space systems to deny the enemy’s use of the space medium.11 Space strike is the hostile application of destructive or disruptive force from space against natural-body-based (earth, moon, and asteroid) targets.12 Space protection is the active, defensive application of destructive or disruptive force to defend friendly space systems.13 This essay examines the importance and usefulness of space combat and proposes a preliminary theory of space combat. It asserts that a theory of space combat is required to understand and effectively employ US space capabilities against existing and future space threats resulting from the proliferation of spacefaring technologies.

Space Combat Employment

Why is space combat useful? What operational utility does it bring to military operations? Space denial makes the high ground of space unavailable to an adversary. The most important current space missions are the force multipliers: surveillance and reconnaissance, warning, navigation, environmental monitoring (weather), and communications. The significance of these missions was not lost on the military forces of the world during Desert Storm.14 If an adversary possessed or had access to force multiplying space systems, friendly operations could be put at risk. Friendly forces could be under constant observation. Sensors of all varieties based in space could track force deployment and supply movement. This information could be decisive in an information dominance sense. Space denial allows friendly forces to operate without being observed. Other force enhancing space systems can benefit our adversaries. Enemy munitions could be precisely guided by Global Positioning System (GPS)-like signals. Satellite communications enhance theater operations when a communication infrastructure does not exist. Weather information from environmental monitoring satellites supports campaign planning and execution. A space denial capability removes the benefits such force enhancement systems provide.



Space denial also prevents the passage of enemy military platforms through space. Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) are current candidates. These vehicles usually have an exoatmospheric phase where they are vulnerable to space denial weapons which could be ground- or space-based. Expendable space launch vehicles (SLV) are another type of platform to be denied. Closing space lines of communication prevents the deployment of new space platforms and the reconstitution of existing space systems. Reusable, recoverable space vehicles which take off vertically, like the space shuttle or the experimental single-stage-to-orbit Delta Clipper, or horizontally, like a US National Aerospace Plane or German Sanger, might also be likely targets if they are carrying force enhancing satellites or weapons deliverable from the vehicle.

Space strike brings a new set of war-fighting tools to terrestrial fights. Just as space-deployed systems provide space combat support capabilities to a surface fight, they can also provide offensive firepower. Space strike systems can provide an increased capability for prompt, intense, lethal or nonlethal, parallel attack against terrestrial (land, sea, and air) targets with minimum risk to allied personnel and minimum collateral damage. Lowell Wood of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory clearly sees a requirement for the future USAF to block large-scale attacks by large quantities of compact, ultra-precision munitions launched in inconvenient locations with only hours notice.15 One can postulate that future force postures will continue to move away from large, fixed overseas bases and the accompanying logistics support. Future US forces will be more expeditionary and will have to respond upon short notice. A premium will be placed on early show of force in an attempt to diffuse crises.16 Space strike forces could do that.

These capabilities could be applied at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war as well as across the spectrum of conflict. They could be used to deter, defend, and defeat. Space strike could be applied singularly as a show of force or independent flexible deterrent option, or integrated into joint, coalition, or combined operations.



Space protection provides security to space systems beyond traditional passive defense mechanisms. Space systems based either in space or on the ground could be defended by space systems in space or on the ground. Space protection systems (counter-ASAT) could defeat antisatellites engaging our satellite or launch systems. Such systems are the P-51 escort fighters of the future, providing defensive firepower for our space force multipliers and space strike systems (the B-17s of the past).

The Significance of Space Combat

Why is the subject of space combat important? First, residual military space capabilities exist in the former Soviet Union (FSU). These capabilities could again threaten the US and allies or proliferate to other nations. The US may need to counter these capabilities. Second, space technologies are proliferating and third world countries are developing military space capabilities (combat and combat support). These countries could threaten the US and, again, the US may need counters.

Third, space combat concepts have existed since the time of sputnik and are part of US military doctrine and thought. But these ideas have not gone much past the conceptual and, in some cases, the experimental stage. Finally, in spite of past US attempts to acquire elements of space combat, like antisatellites and space-based ICBM interceptors, no US operational space combat capability exists today.

The Emerging Space Threat

Many nations learned a great deal from the Gulf War. They noted not only the significance of precision-guided munitions, but also the importance of space-based force enhancement. Access to space systems may make the difference between victory and defeat in future wars.

These nations are attempting to acquire space-derived data through their own military systems or through international commercial systems. In addition to learning the importance of access to



space-derived data, they learned the importance of denying enemies access to space-derived data. Space combat support systems have become high-value targets.

The threat of observation can be most disarming for commanders, especially if their strategy is maneuver-oriented. An Air Force Space Command National Security Industries Association study stated that imaging systems have direct military utility in:

$ Technology verification of an enemy’s capabilities;

$ Analysis of terrain features for combat planning;

$ Surveillance of forces and their movements;

$ Targeting of hostile forces; and

$ Assessment of battle damage.17

Commanders can take some actions to minimize observations, but it will be impossible to totally avoid detection. Multiple sources of space data exist. Data can come from military, civil, or commercial satellites owned by the using country or owned by another country. Some nations have “intelligence-sharing agreements” or commercial arrangements with spacefaring nations. Other aspiring nations are pursuing indigenous capabilities.18 Space launch by itself is not a threat per se, but it is required for an indigenous space combat capability. A space launch capability enables the other space combat and force enhancement missions. Space launch technologies also enable ballistic missile development. Third tier states attempting to procure ballistic missile or space launch capabilities are Libya, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Taiwan, South Africa, and South Korea.19 A space launch capability is an incremental step toward a counterspace capability. If an enemy can launch a satellite, it can certainly launch an elementary antisatellite. A simple ASAT would consist of a nuclear weapon on top of a ballistic missile. A more sophisticated one could employ a conventional or kinetic kill warhead which requires more accurate tracking, targeting, and guidance.

The only country, other than the US and FSU, to start the development of an ASAT capability was China, which conducted a



co-orbital ASAT program up to the early 1980s. Except for Russia, no other country is openly pursuing a space strike or space protection capability. But with the proliferation of advanced space technologies, other countries may soon have this capability.

Current US Military Thought

about Space Combat

Current space combat thought is important to future resource allocation and to research and development decisions. Also, it will influence the employment of space weapons. Current US military thought is found both in official doctrine and in professional journals and other military writings. Official US military doctrine is beginning to address the integration of space operations into joint operations. Doctrine tends to focus on force enhancement and space support, though space combat missions are beginning to get more attention. Professional journals and other military writings have the same force enhancement slant, but more articles about space combat are beginning to appear.

Surface Service Thoughts on Space Combat

The three surface services (Navy, Marines, and Army) generally see military space operations in a force enhancement function. The US Navy is primarily interested in exploiting space for its force multiplier and information domination capabilities.20 However, the Navy has acknowledged the importance of space control as a contributor to battlespace dominance.21 Like the Navy, Marine Corps space thought is focused on the force-multiplying effects of space systems.22 The US Army credits the exploitation of space-based capabilities (along with other technological advances) with increasing “the lethality, range, accuracy and reliability of our weapons systems.”23 Brig Gen Robert Stewart, the Army’s first astronaut, captured the Army’s view on space: “The Army’s role will be what it’s always been: to assure proper support to the combat soldier. He is the element to project force on the battlefield, and everybody else in the Army exists to help him.”24 The Army sees the day when it will



man “ground-based ASAT firing batteries” in support of USCINCSPACE.25 In spite of its work in strategic defense, the Army plans to exploit space in support of ground forces.

US Air Force Thoughts on Space Combat

In his article, “The Uniqueness of Space Doctrine,” Lt Col Charles Friedenstein said the 1979 version of Air Force Manual (AFM) 1-1 “cracked the door on our use of force in space by stating that it should ‘enhance deterrence by developing the capability to deny or nullify hostile acts in or through aerospace.’”26 This type of space operation was called space defense. In 1982, AFM 1-6, Aerospace Doctrine:

Military Space Doctrine, became the first separate space doctrine. It officially acknowledged for the first time there were some “potential warfighting missions.”27 Space strike and space denial are clear missions. Both AFM 1-1 and variations of AFM 1-6 have evolved the space missions.28 The latest draft of Air Force Doctrine Directive (AFDD) 4, Air Force Operational Doctrine: Space Operations, appears to be a small doctrinal step forward. Though AFDD 4 seems to focus on enhancement capabilities and information dominance (e.g., information warfare, information combat, and integrated reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition), it does introduce the concepts of integrated application of firepower (including the possibility of space strike), space-based BMD, and integrated air and space control.29

The Case against Space Combat

In spite of the argument for space combat power, the US is not falling all over itself to develop it. Several arguments against space combat exist. The first is the physical challenge of getting into space. The current fleet of SLVs and the space launch infrastructure are not designed to be tactically responsive.30 The existence of the Russian spacelift capability is proof that responsive launch is achievable. The Russian system may be more expensive (which is debatable) and not as technologically sophisticated as the US system, but it is militarily responsive.



Second is the cost of spacelift. Individual space launches range in cost from tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars. The cost of launch may be the single greatest drag on the development and employment of space combat systems. In spite of this cost, some rudimentary space combat systems could be and have been developed; for example, the air-launched miniature homing vehicle antisatellite. The approach and cost of space launch are recognized problems that multiple recent studies have addressed.31 An associated challenge is that of maneuvering in orbit. Orbit changes can use up large amounts of fuel (which is either not replaceable or replaceable only at great cost). New propulsion technologies may be required for maneuverability. Inexpensive and responsive lift and on-orbit propulsion are required to employ space combat power. This approach assumes they will be available in the foreseeable future. The third challenge is the cost of space combat systems. The cost of development and test of space combat systems can be substantial, but perhaps the highest recurring cost is the cost of spacelift or launch. Thirty-three billion dollars were spent on the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), and not a single operational system was produced.32 Fourth, political resistance in Congress stifles the development of space combat systems. Congress has been concerned about the possible violation of the 1972 Antiballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

The ABM Treaty prohibits the basing of ABM weapons or detection devices in space. President Ronald Reagan, when he announced SDI, took a “broad interpretation [of the Treaty that] would have permitted virtually unlimited testing and development of spacebased ABM systems or components, provided they employed so-called ‘exotic’ technologies (other than missiles or radars).”33 President George Bush continued support for the broad interpretation in his SDI budget request, which would have funded both an allowable fixed ground-based ABM system and a space-based system using Brilliant Pebble interceptors.34 The Clinton administration has turned around the 10-year-old decision and has embraced the traditional or narrow interpretation of the treaty, which “prohibits the development, testing



and deployment of sea-based, air-based, space-based and mobile land-based ABM systems.”35 A fifth challenge to space combat is technical viability. Many respected scientists and engineers doubt that space combat systems can be developed. After 10 years, the SDI did not produce the global protective umbrella originally promised by President Reagan. One final argument against space combat is that the employment of space combat weapons violates the self-imposed space sanctuary policy established by President Dwight Eisenhower. President Eisenhower wanted to preserve space for peaceful purposes. To establish the principle of freedom of space, to protect US satellites from interference, and to avoid an arms race in space, the US pursued the goals of protecting the right to collect data from space, which was particularly important during the early days of the cold war. This policy was at odds with the desire to develop space combat capabilities. When space combat threats developed, such as the Soviet fractional orbital bombardment system and the co-orbital ASAT, we did not respond with countermeasures or systems in kind. But the US deployment of ICBMs, experiments with ASATs since the 1960s, and the SDI program, all hint that the US has abandoned sanctuary doctrine.

Both the US and the FSU pursued space combat power during the cold war. The US abandoned its capabilities, but the FSU is still thought to have some residual capabilities. Evidence indicates that other nations may be pursuing at least the basic technology needed to conduct space combat. The US disarmed itself for political reasons and the political debate about space combat continues. The US military needs to debate and explore the significance of space combat even if the political debate is not encouraging.


1. This is a concern voiced after the war by the then commander of Air Force Space Command, Lt Gen Thomas S. Moorman. He also argued “for an ASAT system to assure that just as US forces achieved control of the air and the battlefield, we can control space as well.” Lt Gen Thomas S. Moorman, Jr., “Space: A New Strategic Frontier,” Airpower Journal 6, no.1 (Spring 1992): 14–23.



2. Thomas G. Mahnken, “Why Third World Space Systems Matter,” Orbis, Fall 1991, 569–70.

3. France developed a satellite called Helios for joint use by France, Spain, and Belgium.

4. In December of 1989, Iraq launched a vehicle for the announced purpose of launching satellites. Mahnken, 567.

5. This is an inference based on the importance observers are putting on space.

One source said about the Gulf War, “military experts are generally agreed that satellites helped to win the political battle, sustained command and control, shortened the war and saved lives. [Space’s] highly effective, economic and flexible capabilities will be needed even more in the increasingly volatile world of the future.” If space capabilities were, and will be, so useful, then denying the use of space would increase an adversary’s uncertainty on the ground. Sir Peter Anson, BT, and Dennis Cummings, “The First Space War: The Contribution of Satellites to the Gulf War,” RUSI Journal, Winter 1991, 53.

6. Iraq rebuilt its Saad research and development center near Mosul and built a new laboratory, Ibn al-Haytham, near Baghdad. Also, the Saudis intercepted a shipment of ammonium perchlorate, the oxidizer of choice for solid rocket boosters, from China. It was bound for Iraq via Lebanon. Thomas Sancton, “No Longer Fenced In,” Time, 23 May 1994, 37–38.

7. With the exception of a few on-orbit spares and a few extra satellites in storage on the ground, which might take months to launch, the US has no means to reconstitute our space order of battle if it came under attack. For an outstanding discussion of this strategic problem, see Maj Jeffrey L. Caton, Rapid Space Force Reconstitution: Mandate for United States Security, Research Report no. AU-ARI-94-4 (Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.: Air University Press, December 1994).

8. For another scenario-based argument for space combat capability, see Lt Col Michael E. Baum, “Defiling the Altar: The Weaponization of Space,” Airpower Journal 8, no.1 (Spring 1994): 52–62. The term space combat is not used in Colonel Baum’s article.

9. These are nonstandard terms. Hopefully, the author’s terms are more complete.

10. This is the author’s definition and is a composite of official and unofficial definitions for the medium of space. It is surprising, but there is no official definition of combat in Joint Pub 1-02. There are multiple definitions using the word combat without defining it. Army Regulation 310-25 does not include the definition of combat. The USAF Dictionary and the Dictionary of Weapons and Military Terms contain definitions of combat. Col T. N. Dupuy’s book has a very comprehensive definition of military combat. Appendix A has all of these definitions. Joint Pub

1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms,



23 March 1984; AR 310-25, Dictionary of United States Army Terms, 15 October 1983; Woodford A. Heflin, ed., The United States Air Force Dictionary (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, 1956); John Quick, Dictionary of Weapons and Military Terms (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1973); and Col T. N. Dupuy, Understanding War: History and Theory of Combat (New York: Paragon House Publishers, 1987).

11. Space denial is an expanded form of offensive counterspace. Defensive counterspace includes both passive and active defensive operations or designs.

12. Space strike is an expanded form of force application, which includes attacks on other heavenly bodies besides the earth.

13. This definition excludes the active countermeasure of maneuver, but includes the use of electronic warfare to defend space systems.

14. Mary C. FitzGerald, The Impact of the Military-Technical Revolution on Russian Military Affairs, vol. 2 (Washington, D.C.: Hudson Institute, August 1993), 19.

15. Lowell Wood, “The US Air Force in 2020,” SPACECAST 2020 lecture, Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., 27 October 1993, 8.

16. Deputy for Development Planning, Space and Missile Systems Center, “An Evolving Focus for Military Missions in Space, 1995–2020,” vol. 1, Executive Summary, 50–51.

17. Rich Poturalski et al., Space Combat Panel Final Report: An Advocacy Plan for Future Space Combat Capabilities, National Security Industrial Association (NSIA) Space Study 1992 (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NSIA, February 1993), 15.

18. Mahnken, 565–66.

19. Ibid., 564, 573.

20. The Navy’s vision white paper, . . . From the Sea, states that “our surveillance efforts will continue to emphasize exploitation of space and electronic warfare systems to provide commanders with immediate information, while denying and/or managing the data available to our enemies.” The paper focuses on information collection, but is silent on communications and environmental monitoring applications in spite of the fact the Navy depends on space for these functions. Department of the Navy, . . . From the Sea: Preparing the Naval Service for the 21st Century (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1992), 8.

21. The white paper makes a quick reference to using “space-based assets to achieve dominance in space” as a part of battle space dominance, but does not elaborate on how this is to be achieved. . . . From the Sea, 9.

22. The US Marine Corps basic doctrinal manual, FMFM 1, Warfighting, 6 March 1989, is silent on space operations. The section on combined arms could be interpreted to include operations in space. A second manual, FMFM 1-2, The Role of the Marine Corps in the National Defense, does refer to space operations, but in support of combat operations. It lists space forces as one component of US military


110 posture for national defense. The focus of these forces is force enhancement. The section on projection forces is silent on space combat options. FMFM 1-2, The Role of the Marine Corps in the National Defense, 21 June 1991, 2-3 and 2-7.

23. FM 100-5, Operations, 14 June 1993, 2-3.

24. Quoted in “Space Primer,” Soldier, April 1987, 8.

25. Heike Hasenauer, “Army Takes the Lead in ASAT,” Soldier, August 1989, 13–20.

26. Quoted in Lt Col Charles D. Friedstein, “The Uniqueness of Space Doctrine,” Air University Review 37, no. 1 (November–December 1985): 15.

27. AFM 1-6, Aerospace Doctrine: Military Space Doctrine, 15 October 1982, 8.

28. First, no space role is suggested or discussed under force application.

Spacelift is listed as force enhancement in an attempt to closer associate it with airlift. Launching satellites doesn’t seem to be in the same category as providing communication and navigation support. AFM 1-1, Basic Aerospace Doctrine of the United States Air Force, vol. 1, March 1992, 6–7.

29. Air Force Doctrine Directive (AFDD) 4, Air Force Operational Doctrine:

Space Operations (draft), November 1993, 7, 11, 14, 19, 27–28.

30. Caton.

31. In spite of all these studies, only incremental improvements in responsiveness, cost reductions, and increased throw weight have been identified. Real improvements may require revolutionary approaches. See Lt Col John R. London

III, LEO on the Cheap: Methods for Achieving Drastic Reductions in Space Launch

Costs, (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, June 1993).

32. An argument can be made that SDI was a technologically driven program, not an operationally driven one. Lots of good ideas and science came out of it, but no systems.

33. Dunbar Lockwood, “Administration Backs ‘Narrow’ Interpretation of ABM Treaty,” Arms Control Today, September 1993, 22.

34. Pat Towell, “Nunn Assails Bush’s Request for Space-Based Weapons,” Congressional Quarterly, 11 April 1992, 962. See also Pat Towell, “Bush Carries on Fight for SDI, but Space Weapons in Doubt,” Congressional Quarterly, 6 July 1991, 1836–44.

35. Elizabeth A. Palmer, “Clinton Hews to Narrow View on ABM Treaty,” Congressional Quarterly, 17 July 1993, 1894.




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