While watching the ongoing “impeachment charade” prompted by a political operative masquerading as a “whistle blower,” we should also emphasize an important report from the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
I want to emphasize a portion of that nearly 600-page report that may be missed by those more interested in the economic aspects, discussed briefly in the Washington Times by Bill Gertz. For decades, he has written about the growing threat from China — now apparent to all and being addressed by President Donald Trump in his negotiations with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping.
Gertz has warned us of consequences of our inept policies and practices under both Democrat and Republican administrations that have largely ignored his and others’ warnings and recommendations to change course. But his excellent article could not address all included in the Commission’s 600-page report.
One such issue was highlighted by Attorney General William Barr’s recent observation that Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corporation, long-standing pathways for smuggling U.S. advanced technology to China, cannot be trusted and are enemies of the United States — not a surprise to those following these events, including as archived by Gertz.
Barr’s statement reflected President Trump’s Executive Order last May, declaring a national emergency and barring U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by companies posing a national security risk and directing the Commerce Department, working with other government agencies, to draw up an enforcement plan by mid-October, now overdue.
Other important issues were addressed in Anthony Capaccio’s November 11, 2019, Bloomberg article, “Space War Threats From China, Russia Getting New U.S. Assessment.” He noted the Commission concluded that China “views space as a critical U.S. military and economic vulnerability and has fielded an array of direct-ascent, cyber, electromagnetic and co-orbital counterspace weapons capable of targeting nearly every class of U.S. space asset.”
These issues, addressed mainly in 40 pages of Section 3 (pp. 359-400) of the Commission’s report, should be carefully considered — including its recommended actions to rectify failures of past U.S. policies and programs related to our future space capabilities.
Most pertinently, just before the Commission report was published, Elon Musk’s Starlink project exploited his SpaceX reusable Falcon 9 rocket to launch 60 satellites into low earth orbit. Each satellite reportedly weighed several hundred pounds. This project is to deploy 12,000 such satellites to provide high-speed internet access across the globe.
As previously reported, such SpaceX operations also can revive important programs pioneered by President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) — and then ignored for almost 30-years.
Indeed, Falcon reusable launches already exploit concepts pioneered by SDI’s Delta Clipper-X, or Clipper Graham. And the current Starlink project could lead to developing Brilliant Pebbles space-based interceptors — in my opinion, the most important product of President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).
In 1990, a Brilliant Pebbles concept demonstration program was approved by the top Pentagon Acquisition Executive after exhaustive critical reviews began in 1989.
That important approved program employing two contractor teams (down-selected from five competitors) was curtailed by Democrat congressional leaders and completely scuttled by the Clinton administration in early 1993. It has subsequently been ignored by both Democrat and Republican administrations.
As an obvious extension of Elon Musk’s Starlink plans, those aged but still valid plans can be revived, especially in conjunction with President Trump’s Space Force initiative. As previously argued, his Space Force should include such space-based defenses.
Recent reports indicate that a constellation of many small satellites is being designed to carry tiny sensors in low earth orbits to identify and track threatening ballistic missiles — especially hypersonic missiles — and enable our ground-based and sea-based interceptors to shoot them down.
Those same satellites could be empowered with tiny rockets to intercept attacking ballistic missiles by using the same concepts pioneered by the SDI Brilliant Pebbles Task Force 30-years ago.
Based on comprehensive analyses by Pentagon and other authorities, we then expected a constellation of 1,000 such Brilliant Pebbles could be developed, deployed and operated for 20 years for $10 billion in 1988 dollars — or about $20 billion today. That might be a target for Elon Musk in extending his Starlink concepts — you think?
In 1990, we expected that system to intercept ballistic missiles in their boost phase as they rise from their launch phase (the best place to intercept first generation threat hypersonic missiles), above the atmosphere if the discrimination problem can be solved and as they descend into and through the atmosphere toward their targets (including to counter threatening hypersonic missiles).
Still a valid concept consistent with Ronald Reagan’s vision. President Trump, make it your vision, too!
Ambassador Henry F. (Hank) Cooper, Chairman of High Frontier and an acknowledged expert on strategic and space national security issues, was President Ronald Reagan's Chief Negotiator at the Geneva Defense and Space Talks with the Soviet Union and Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) Director during the George H.W. Bush administration. Previously, he served as the Assistant Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Deputy Assistant USAF Secretary, Science Adviser to the Air Force Weapons Laboratory and a USAF Reserve Captain. In the private sector he was Chairman of Applied Research Associates, a high technology company; member of the technical staff of Jaycor, R&D Associates and Bell Telephone Laboratories; a Senior Associate of the National Institute for Public Policy; and Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees from Clemson and a PhD from New York University, all in Mechanical Engineering. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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