U.S. generals planning for a space war they see as all but inevitable

A ship in the Pacific Ocean carrying a high-power laser takes aim at a U.S. spy satellite, blinding its sensors and denying the United States critical eyes in the sky.

This is one scenario that military officials and civilian leaders fear could lead to escalation and wider conflict as rival nations like China and Russia step up development and deployments of anti-satellite weapons.

If a satellite came under attack, depending on the circumstances, “the appropriate measures can be taken,” said Lt. Gen. John Shaw, deputy commander of U.S. Space Command.

The space battlefield is not science fiction and anti-satellite weapons are going to be a reality in future armed conflicts, Shaw said at the recent 36th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

U.S. Space Command is responsible for military operations in the space domain, which starts at the Kármán line, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the Earth’s surface. This puts Space Command in charge of protecting U.S. satellites from attacks and figuring out how to respond if hostile acts do occur.

Military space assets like satellites and ground systems typically have been considered “support” equipment that provide valuable services such as communications, navigation data and early warning of missile launches. But as the Pentagon has grown increasingly dependent on space, satellites are becoming strategic assets and coveted targets for adversaries.

“It is impossible to overstate the importance of space-based systems to national security,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said in a keynote speech at the symposium.

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NASA Awards SpaceX, Blue Origin, and 3 Other Companies $146 Million in Contracts to Go to the Moon

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, better known as NASA, announced this week the award of five contracts for $146 million to U.S. companies, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, to design lunar landers.

As reported by Forbes, these private companies will work over the next 15 months on various projects for the development of the Artemis program to ensure the return of humanity to the moon in 2024.

Contracts are well distributed, according to the statement from NASA:

  • SpaceX: $9.4 million
  • Blue Origin: $25.6 million
  • Dynetics: $40.8 million
  • Lockheed Martin: $35.2 million
  • Northrop Grumman: $34.8 million

The idea is that the five companies develop sustainable models of landing modules to regularly transport astronauts to the moon. Much of what is designed for Earth’s satellite will apply to future missions to Mars.

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Biden to announce joint deal with U.K. and Australia on advanced defense-tech sharing

President Joe Biden will announce a new working group with Britain and Australia to share advanced technologies in a thinly veiled bid to counter China, a White House official and a congressional staffer told POLITICO.

The trio, which will be known by the acronym AUUKUS, will make it easier for the three countries to share information and know-how in key technological areas like artificial intelligence, cyber, underwater systems and long-range strike capabilities.

One of the people said there will be a nuclear element to the pact in which the U.S. and U.K. share their knowledge of how to maintain nuclear-defense infrastructure.

There’s nothing explicitly mentioning China in the three-way deal, the people said, but both noted that the subtext of the announcement is that this is another move by Western allies to push back on China’s rise in the military and technology arenas.

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Israel Unveils New Armed Robot Amid Outcry Over “Death Machines”

Israel unveiled a new remote-controlled killer robot Monday at a major weapons fair in the U.K. that human rights advocates are criticizing as an event to sell “death machines” and tools of abuse.

Developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the Rex MK II is a four-wheeled vehicle mounted with two machine guns to carry out remote attacks. According to a press statement from the state-owned company announcing the release, the robot has already been sold to global customers.

The weapon was unveiled Monday at Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) in London, an event that occurs every two years and is one of the world’s biggest arms fairs. The weapons expo has faced sustained condemnation from anti-war campaigners who say it’s a venue “where those who profit from war, repression, and injustice do business.”

IAI describes the robot as an unmanned land vehicle that can carry a load of 1.3 tons and execute operations including intelligence gathering using “electro-optical sensors and radar.” It can also be used to launch attacks with “remotely controlled weapons systems including a 7.62mm machine gun” and “a cal 0.50 heavy machine gun,” the company says, and serve “as a multi-mission multi-purpose platform to support additional missions based on troops needs.”

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9/11 and the Politics of Fear and Self-Preservation

The 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001 is a particularly somber one, not just because of the horrific nature of events of that day reaching its second-decade milestone, but because of how little we seem to have learned in that amount of time.

The fear and trauma generated by the events of 9/11 were used by the U.S. national security state and its civilian allies to great effect to divide the American population, to attack independent reporting as well as independent thought, to gut the anti-war movement, and to normalize the U.S. government’s overt and persistent degradation of the country’s Constitution. This, of course, is in addition to the illegal U.S. occupations and drone wars in the Middle East and elsewhere that were also born out of this event.

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Inside Lockheed’s Super-Secret Skunk Works Factory

Over the years, we’ve mentioned Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works Advanced Development Programs (ADP), formerly called Lockheed Advanced Development Projects, for its production of highly classified war machines. Engineers at this top-secret campus have developed the U-2, SR-71 Blackbird, F-117 Nighthawk, F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, and there are rumors of sixth-generation fighter jets in development. 

Located sixty-two miles north of Los Angeles, Skunk Works in Palmdale, California, opened its doors to a select group of reporters on Aug. 10, for the first time in eight years, according to Air Force Magazine (AFM). 

For defense and aviation journalists, having the ability to tour the state-of-the-art factory was equivalent to receiving a Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka’s factory. 

Skunk Works opened its doors to a select group of reporters during a ribbon-cutting ceremony of a new factory on its massive 539-acre campus. 

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It’s Time To Reassess Our Relationship With Israel

In April 1996, Israeli artillery shells rained down on a United Nations compound where hundreds of civilians were taking refuge. As the shells exploded and the building collapsed, 106 civilians died and another 116 were injured.

The attack, now known as the Qana Massacre, was part of a larger Israeli offensive known as Operation Grapes of Wrath, a 16-day campaign of aggression in southern Lebanon.

The United Nations investigated the Qana Massacre and determined the Israeli shelling was deliberate. Then-UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghani condemned the attack, writing it was “all the more serious because civilians, including women and children, had sought refuge” in the compound the Israelis destroyed.

The commander of the unit that launched the assault was a man named Naftali Bennett, who’d go on to boast, “I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life and there’s no problem with that.”

Bennett, of course, is now Israel’s prime minister. And on August 25, he arrived for a visit at the White House.

When President Biden took office, he promised to pursue a foreign policy based on human rights and the “rules-based international order.”

Those commitments already seemed at odds with the long-running U.S. support for Israel. Whether it’s giving Israel nearly $4 billion in military aid every year or providing diplomatic protection at the United Nations, the United States allows Israel to act with impunity even after repeated instances of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

But Biden’s promise to put human rights and international law first seem especially at odds with supporting a government like Bennett’s. Bennett’s war criminal past is troubling enough, but his current positions flout international law – and longstanding US support for a two-state solution – just as aggressively.

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