China's military is expected to deploy a laser weapon capable of destroying or damaging U.S. military satellites in low earth orbit in the next year, the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency disclosed in a report on space threats.
The Chinese directed energy weapon is among an array of space warfare tools that include ground-based anti-satellite (ASAT) missiles, electronic jammers, cyber attacks, and small satellites Beijing plans to use in attacks on U.S. satellites in a future conflict.
"China likely is pursuing laser weapons to disrupt, degrade, or damage satellites and their sensors and possibly already has a limited capability to employ laser systems against satellite sensors," the unclassified intelligence report said.
"China likely will field a ground-based laser weapon that can counter low-orbit space-based sensors by 2020, and by the mid-to-late 2020s, it may field higher power systems that extend the threat to the structures of non-optical satellites."
It was the first time a U.S. intelligence agency disclosed details of the ASAT laser deployment plans.
China's ASAT laser weapons have been known since at least 2006, when China used a ground based laser to "dazzle" an orbiting U.S. satellite in what was viewed as a test attack. The laser incident came a year before the 2007 Chinese ASAT missile test against an orbiting weather satellite that created a dangerous orbiting debris field. (end of excerpt)
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