Outer space: a growing military domain

After air, land and sea, outer space has become an emerging military domain

Today, outer space exploration has become a vital aspect of the global economy and security

Outer space has become a critical domain for nations, with a wide range of applications and benefits for both civilian and military purposes

In recent years, the importance of outer space has grown as technology has advanced and the use of space-based systems has increased and dependency on space has grown for military purposes

What do these recent events signify? Why is space now at the forefront of national and international security discussions? Even though under the Outer Space Treaty of 1965, space may only be used for peaceful purposes, the technologically advanced nations have increased their military dependence on space due to the critical role of space in the military domain, thus militarising space and opening ways for its weaponisation

One of the key ways in which space has become increasingly important is through its role in the military domain

Space-based assets such as satellites are used for a wide range of military purposes, including intelligence gathering, communication, surveillance and navigation

These assets provide essential intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities that are critical for military operations and national security

The space-based communication systems are essential for the coordination and control of military operations, while navigation systems such as GPS provide critical guidance and targeting information

Besides, the use of space technology in missile systems has also led to the development of new types of missiles such as hypersonic missiles which can travel at extremely high speeds and are difficult to detect and intercept

Space has become a new frontier of geopolitical competition

Though competition in space started seven decades ago when the USSR and the US initiated the race for space domination, it has increasingly become a military domain and great power competition over the past two decades, with the rise of China and its growing military capabilities and space ambitions

After the Russian and the US anti-satellite weapons tests, the tech has continued to evolve with China entering the race in 2007 and India joining the club in 2019

Some other nations such as Israel, Japan, France and South Korea are also increasing their investment in the space domain

NATO has also recognised space as the fifth operation domain for military operations

Space has become one of the main domains where the US-China geopolitical competition has increased in recent years, with both powers prioritising space for foreign policy objectives

The US and China have already declared space to be a “military domain”, therefore, any future exploitation interest by either party would be treated as a national security priority, thereby increasing the risks of confrontation

The US established the Space Force in 2019 as the sixth branch of the military with advanced operations on land, air and orbit

China has already established the space force also known as the cyber force

The growing space activities in the military domain are creating potential risks for regional and international security

As countries continue to invest in space-based technologies and develop new capabilities, there is also the potential for increased competition and tensions in the space domain

There are growing concerns about potential threats to space-based assets

These include the possibility of collisions with space debris, cyber-attacks on satellites and the use of anti-satellite weapons

The demonstration of ASAT weapons has raised concerns among international security experts due to the potential for damage to satellites and other space assets

The disruption of satellite-based communication, navigation and reconnaissance systems can have significant military and civilian consequences

In addition, the development of hypersonic missiles also raises concerns about the potential for an arms race and the destabilisation of the international security environment

This highlights the need for international cooperation to establish and adhere to international norms and agreements that promote the peaceful use of space

Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2023

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Date:19-Feb-2023 Reference:View Original Link