The US has indicated an increased threat of space warfare from Russia and China. The director of national intelligence, Dan Coats in a written testimony to a Senate hearing has said the two countries are focusing on satellite destruction capabilities to undermine the efforts of the US military on ground.
"Russia and China perceive a need to offset any US military advantage derived from military, civil, or commercial space systems and are increasingly considering attacks against satellite systems as part of their future warfare doctrine," Coats told a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Both Russia and China according to him continue to pursue a full range of anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons as a means to reduce US military effectiveness. And, some of these ASAT weapons will probably be ready n the next couple of years.
"Russian military strategists likely view counterspace weapons as an integral part of broader aerospace defense rearmament and are very likely pursuing a diverse suite of capabilities to affect satellites in all orbital regimes," Coats said.
These systems will have the capability to damage sensitive space-based optical sensors, placed by US or other countries in space. Coats specifically indicates the Russian military strategy, which according to his team's report is developing an airborne laser weapon for use against US satellites. He says most of these are being publicised by the two countries as robotics technology designed for satellite servicing and space-junk removal but will have the capability to damage satellites.
While Washington has accused China and Russia in the past of building secretive space weapons, US' Boeing X-37B that returned to Earth after 700 days in space has also raised speculations about its actual mission. Many experts say it is used for spying and may be capable of destructing other satellites in space.