A senior U.S. Space Force officer has stressed that China’s new hypersonic weapon system is indeed orbital in nature and could be able to stay in space for an extended period of time. This is the latest piece of official information about this novel system that reportedly uses some kind of hypersonic glider, which may be capable of launching its own projectiles to actually execute a strike.
Space Force Lieutenant General Chance Saltzman, the Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber, and Nuclear, responded to questions about this new Chinese strategic weapon during an online event hosted by the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute earlier today. Saltzman, who transitioned from the Air Force to the Space Force last year, “has overall responsibility for Operations, Intelligence, Sustainment, Cyber, and Nuclear Operations of the United States Space Force,” according to the service’s website.
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has said he will ask Vladimir Putin to arm his country with nukes if NATO sends similar weapons to Poland.
The strongman dictator told the Kremlin-backed RIA news agency: ‘We are ready for [nuclear weapons] on the territory of Belarus.’
The claim came after Putin today warned the West and Ukraine not to cross his ‘red lines’ as NATO leaders met in Latvia amid soaring tensions in the Baltic and Black Sea regions.
Putin has sent some 94,000 troops to the Ukrainian frontier and the White House has warned Europe to brace for an invasion that would dwarf the 2014 annexation of the Crimea.
But the Russian president said that the Kremlin was just as concerned by NATO’s buildup of military hardware near its borders as the West was about the reinforcements gathering on the other side of the frontier.
Earlier in November, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that tests of the Zircon hypersonic missiles are almost completed.
Vladimir Putin said that the hypersonic weapon with maximum speed of Mach 9 will appear in Russia in the near future.
“We have now tested, and successfully, and from the beginning of the year we will be armed with new sea-based hypersonic missiles, Mach 9 [speed],” Putin said.
Moscow is developing hypersonic weapons in response to NATO actions that pose threat to Russia, President Vladimir Putin said.
“Things have come to the point that anti-missile defenсe systems are deployed in Poland and Romania, and the launchers that are there, Mk-41, can also be equipped with Tomahawk strike systems. But this also creates threats for us. Well, this is the obvious fact, the obvious thing. Despite all of our requests not to do this, what has happened? What we see now. In response, we have been forced, I want to emphasise this, we have been forced to start developing hypersonic weapons. This is our response.” Putin said.
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday sternly warned NATO against deploying its troops and weapons to Ukraine, saying it represents a red line for Russia and would trigger a strong response.
Commenting on Western concerns about Russia’s alleged intention to invade Ukraine, he said that Moscow is equally worried about NATO drills near its borders.
Speaking to participants of an online investment forum. Putin said that NATO’s eastward expansion has threatened Russia’s core security interests. He expressed concern that NATO could eventually use the Ukrainian territory to deploy missiles capable of reaching Moscow in just five minutes.
“The emergence of such threats represents a ‘red line’ for us,” Putin said. “I hope that it will not get to that and common sense and responsibility for their own countries and the global community will eventually prevail.”
He added that Russia has been forced to counter the growing threats by developing new hypersonic weapons.
“What should we do?” Putin said. “We would need to develop something similar to target those who threaten us. And we can do that even now.”
He said a new hypersonic missile that is set to enter service with the Russian navy early next year would be capable of reaching targets in comparable time.
“It would also need just five minutes to reach those who issue orders,” Putin said.
The Zircon hypersonic cruise missile, capable of flying at nine times the speed of sound to a range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), has undergone a series of tests, most recently Monday.
Ukrainian and Western officials have expressed worries this month that a Russian military buildup near Ukraine could signal plans by Moscow to invade its ex-Soviet neighbor. NATO foreign ministers warned Russia on Tuesday that any attempt to further destabilize Ukraine would be a costly mistake.
The Kremlin has insisted it has no such intention and has accused Ukraine and its Western backers of making the claims to cover up their own allegedly aggressive designs.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 after the country’s Kremlin-friendly president was driven from power by mass protests and also threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency that broke out in Ukraine’s east.
Earlier this year, a spike in cease-fire violations in the east and a Russian troop concentration near Ukraine fueled war fears, but tensions abated when Moscow pulled back the bulk of its forces after maneuvers in April.
Putin argued that to avoid tensions, Russia and the West should negotiate agreements that would safeguard each party’s security interests.
“The matter is not whether to send troops or not, go to war or not, but to establish a more fair and stable development and taking into account security interests of all international players,” he replied when asked if Russia was going to invade Ukraine. “If we sincerely strive for that, no one will fear any threats.”
The Russian leader noted that Russia has worried about NATO drills near its borders, pointing at a recent exercise that involved U.S. strategic bombers.
“Strategic bombers, which carry precision weapons and are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, were flying as close as 20 kilometers (12 miles) to our border,” Putin said. “That represents a threat for us.”
After the buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine early this year, Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden held a June summit in Geneva, where they agreed to launch a dialogue on strategic stability and cybersecurity. Putin on Tuesday hailed the cybersecurity discussions between Russian and U.S. experts, saying “just as with the pandemic, it’s necessary to pool efforts to work efficiently.”
Asked about Biden’s bid to seek a second term, Putin said he thought it would help the U.S. political stability. The Russian leader drew a parallel with his own reelection plans.
Even though Putin hasn’t decided yet whether to seek another term before his current one ends in 2024, he said the possibility of him staying on has helped Russia’s stability.
The 69-year-old president has been in power for more than two decades — longer than any other Kremlin leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Constitutional amendments approved in 2020 reset Putin’s previous term limits, allowing him to run for president two more times and hold onto power until 2036.
“In line with the constitution, I have the right to get elected to seek a new term, but I haven’t yet made up my mind whether to do it or not,” Putin said. “But the very existence of that right already stabilizes the domestic political situation.”
Asked about China’s nuclear buildup, Putin said that Russia isn’t worried about it, adding that close ties between Moscow and Beijing are a “major factor of global stability.”
ABOARD THE USS CARL VINSON—The U.S. Seventh Fleet’s commander called for an expanded presence by U.S. and allied aircraft carriers in the Pacific to persuade China and Russia that “today is not the day” to start a conflict.
Vice Adm. Karl Thomas spoke Tuesday as the U.S., Japan, Australia, Canada and Germany completed a 10-day naval exercise led by Japan in Pacific waters. Media were invited to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to watch F-35 jet fighters take off and land.
When Russia blows up a satellite in space with a missile (as it did this month), or when China tests a new hypersonic missile (as it did last month), the ongoing arms race in space leaps into the news. But in between these “Sputnik”-like moments, outside the public’s view, the United States and its adversaries are battling in space every day.
While Washington officials and experts warn of the risks of an arms race in space, the United States’ adversaries are constantly conducting operations against U.S. satellites that skirt the line between intelligence operations and acts of war. The pace of conflict is intensifying, according to a top Space Force general, who told me that China could overtake the United States to become the number one power in space by the end of the decade.
“The threats are really growing and expanding every single day. And it’s really an evolution of activity that’s been happening for a long time,” Gen. David Thompson, the Space Force’s first vice chief of space operations, told me in an interview on the sidelines of the recent Halifax International Security Forum. “We’re really at a point now where there’s a whole host of ways that our space systems can be threatened.”
Right now, Space Force is dealing with what Thompson calls “reversible attacks” on U.S. government satellites (meaning attacks that don’t permanently damage the satellites) “every single day.” Both China and Russia are regularly attacking U.S. satellites with non-kinetic means, including lasers, radio frequency jammers and cyber attacks, he said.
Thompson repeatedly declined to comment on whether China or Russia has attacked a U.S. military satellite in a way that did permanent or significant damage, telling me that would be classified if it had happened. The Chinese military is quickly deploying ground-based systems for doing battle in space, such as lasers that can damage nosy U.S. intelligence community satellites, which could be considered an act of war.
Israel’s military is continuing to develop its ability to conduct a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program should circumstances demand it.
After a five-month hiatus, indirect talks between the United States and Iran are set to resume on Monday, with the other parties to the nuclear deal mediating in hope of reestablishing an agreement to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions.
The defense establishment does not see a war breaking out with Iran or its proxies, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, but the IDF has been keeping an eye on the North and on the South.
It held large-scale exercises in the North in October and November, and there are plans to hold 50% more drills next year than in 2020, and 30% more than in 2021.
The increased exercises set for 2022 follows years of stagnation, and will be the largest training operation in five years, especially for reserve forces.
WASHINGTON—A Pentagon review of military resources world-wide plans to make improvements to airfields in Guam and Australia to counter China but contains no major reshuffling of forces as the U.S. moves to take on Beijing while deterring Russia and fighting terrorism in the Middle East and Africa.
The review, an unclassified summary of which was released Monday, aims to sharpen the link between U.S.’s vast military capabilities and the Biden administration’s strategic priorities—countering China’s military buildup and more assertive use of power chief among them.