Science

US Space Force conducts satellite jamming exercises with live fire

The United States Space Force is conducting an exercise designed to train the guards on how to jam satellites with “combat fire”.

Known as Black Sky, the drill is part of a new series of drills designed to focus on specific skills the Space Force expects their guards to be proficient in, according to a report published by Breaking Defense. (will open in a new tab). Following Black Sky on satellite jamming, the service will host Red Sky on orbital warfare training, followed by Blue Sky on cyber warfare.

The drills are taking place as both ground and orbital threats to U.S. private and military satellites continue to spread, threatening to turn space into a battlefield in the event of a major conflict between space powers.

On the subject: Russia jams GPS satellite signals in Ukraine, US space forces say

According to a Breaking Defense report, the exercise used a commercial satellite leased from a private firm as a training target. Which company allowed the jamming of its satellite is not specified.

Major Gen. Sean Bratton, Commander of Space Training and Training (STARCOM), told Breaking Defense that STARCOM is exploring the possibility of acquiring its own satellites for use as dedicated live fire exercises such as Black Skies. The command is exploring partnerships with universities that use their own cubesats to build a fleet of target satellites. “We are planning and trying to find the right way forward,” Bratton said.

As militaries around the world continue to depend on satellites for critical intelligence, communications and early warning systems, it’s no surprise that the ability to jam or otherwise disrupt them is becoming a top priority for militaries around the world.

U.S. Space Force officials have previously reported that GPS satellites have been jammed during Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. “Perhaps Ukraine will not be able to use GPS because there are jammers around that prevent them from receiving any usable signal,” the general said. David Thompson, deputy chief of space operations for the Space Force, stated in April 2022: “Of course the Russians understand the value and importance of GPS and are trying to prevent others from using it.”

The Space Force had already conducted “simulated combat in orbit” in a “contested, degraded and operationally restricted environment” in a previous STARCOM exercise in August 2022.

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