The Pléiades satellites are supporting French military actions in
Mali, part of the proliferation of military space capabilities
beyond the US and the former USSR. (credit: CNES)

Proliferating military space power in 2013 and beyond

by Taylor Dinerman
Monday, February 11, 2013

A decade ago, when Jeff started The Space Review, military space power largely belonged to the world’s major powers, especially the United States. Post-Soviet Russia maintained a barebones military space capacity and the French and the Chinese were rapidly developing their own arrays of national security space systems. Other nations such as Israel, India, and Japan were just beginning to develop their own indigenous space systems.

Today, not only are military space systems ubiquitous, but they have become such an integral part of all military, peacekeeping, and diplomatic operations that they are taken for granted. The propaganda value of space activities is lower than it has ever been. North Korea’s launch may have been part of an extensive missile development program, but the effort by the Pyongyang regime to impress the world with their technology fell flat. Iran’s monkey-in-space likewise did nothing to enhance the Islamic Republic’s reputation for engineering prowess, except amongst its already existing admirers.

To see how real space power works in 2013, one only has to look at the way it has supported France’s military intervention in Mali. While both France and its Islamist enemies make use of satellite navigation and satellite communications, France, with its own extensive space based intelligence system and with support from the US and from the European allies, has crushing space power superiority.

Read more: The Space Review: Proliferating military space power in 2013 and beyond.

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