Air Force officials told Congress that global positioning system satellites are vulnerable to attacks from Chinese or Russian missiles or cyberattacks, The Washington Free Beacon reported.
The Air Force is working on jam-proof GPS satellites, Air Force secretary Heather Wilson told a House Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing on Wednesday.
"With respect to the threat we face, I think it's everything from jamming from the surface or a cyberattack, to direct-ascent satellite weapons, either from Russia (or) in 2007, the Chinese tests an anti-satellite weapon and spread debris all over orbit," Wilson said, the Free Beacon reported.
Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein discussed at the hearing the agency's 2019 budget request of $156.3 billion. That request includes a 33 percent increase in space satellites, rocket launchers, and anti-space attack capabilities.
The secretary said the risk to GPS networks is why the Air Force is ramping up work to replace the 30 orbiting GPS satellites, so they can be fitted with jam-resistant technologies, according to the report.
"If you just take out your phone and look at that blue dot, or if you got money from an ATM machine, all of those services are provided by a squadron of less than 40 airmen in Colorado Springs, Colorado," she said, referring to the GPS satellite controllers at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado.
"We are looking at our levels of investment in places like directed energy, hypersonics, quantum computing, all those game changers, and looking for ways to ensure that we can put the most resources against the problem so we can swarm against the problem," Gen. Goldfein said at the hearing.
China has developed ground-launched anti-satellites and electronic jammers, as well as small maneuvering satellites that can attack orbiting satellites, the Free Beacon reported.
Current defense programs are not designed to take on new threats, said Doug Loverro, former deputy assistant defense secretary for space policy.
"We have a sitcom jamming threat today … they are ready to target every one of them and they will target them in such a way that it will be very difficult for us to defend our capabilities," Loverro said.
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., praised the idea of the U.S. ramping up efforts in space, including President Donald Trump's call for a "space force." "Space is a warfighting domain and we must now prepare for success by developing the culture, processes, and training needed to continue to outpace our strategic competitors to preserve our national security," he said Wednesday to TV station WSFA.
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