Military hotlines with Russia and China essential to avoid space wars, US claims

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A US military general has warned that hotlines between his country and foreign rivals could be necessary to avoid a 'space war'.

Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, US Space Force's deputy chief of space operations for operations, cyber and nuclear recalled how, during his time leading air campaigns at the US Air Force, he was forced to create a hotline to Russia during tensions in Syria.

He said: “We had a hotline to the Russians because we were very concerned that a miscommunication with aircraft flying in close proximity in Syria would lead to a problem.

“I don’t see any reason why a similar approach couldn’t work for the space domain.

“The hotline that we used was to make as many of our operations as transparent as possible and attempt to avoid those miscommunications.”

“A civilian satellite conducting surveillance, for example, could be mistaken for a hostile counter-space weapon.

“In space, we literally can’t use our visual reference points.

“We have to rely on radar. We have to rely on telescopes, and that creates a level of uncertainty.

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“If there was a hotline at least we would have a discussion before we draw the wrong conclusions. “And we currently don’t have that capability.

“But I think the idea merits a full scale discussion.”

Lt. Gen. Saltzman made the comments on Wednesday, during a keynote speech at the Global Milsatcom 2021 conference in London.

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According to Space News, one of the themes at the conference was for the desire for greater cooperation on space security.

Lt. Gen. Saltzman continued: “Establishing responsible norms and behaviours is really a global concern.

“No one nation can establish those independently, and there’s so much shared capacity that we could leverage.”

“The United States remains the most capable spacefaring nation in terms of the capabilities that we have on orbit.

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“But China poses a major challenge. They can see that if they can take some of those capabilities from us, they can shift the tables in terms of of that strategic advantage.

“And the most significant challenge isn’t any one system.

“It’s really the pace at which they’re developing all their systems.

“It’s such a broad array of counter-space capabilities that they’re pursuing and high end technologies, that what’s most concerning is just the speed at which they are going from ‘good idea’ to full scale capability that’s being demonstrated on orbit.”

  • Space
  • Military
  • China
  • Russia
  • London

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