Space systems and missile defense in 2010

I recommend the status report on ballistic missile defense systems being developed around the world – by Taylor Dinerman.

Yet, as BMD systems proliferate, these satellites will be used principally to detect, track, and target ballistic missiles. This distances them from the world of intelligence and a Cold War-type nuclear exchange and makes them instruments of a new kind of missile warfare. Within a decade we could see war plans that depend on the early elimination of missile tracking satellites in order to degrade the enemy’s BMD capability. Defensive plans will be made to counter these attacks.

This may be what Chinese Air Force Commander General Xu Qilang was thinking of in an interview last November when he said, “As far as the revolution in military affairs is concerned, the competition between military forces is moving towards outer space… this is a historical inevitability and cannot be turned back.”

In the absence of space-based BMD weapons such as the old “Brilliant Pebbles” infrared-guided LEO based satellites, missile defense and space war are intimately linked. To imagine that an attacker is going to ignore space-based sensors and allow the target nation or force to employ its defense system at maximum efficiency is to ignore the lessons of history.