DIA: U.S. Faces Mounting Challenges as Chinese & Russian Space Fleets Grow by 70%

Depiction of spread velocity vectors for ASAT-generated debris fragments based upon SSN-tracked orbits. (Credit: COMSPOC)

JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, DC (DIA PR) – The combined in-orbit space fleets of China and Russia grew more than 70% in just over two years, evidence of both nations’ intent to undercut U.S. and allied global leadership in the space domain, according to a new report from the Defense Intelligence Agency.

While satellites and other space-based capabilities support vital American infrastructure and communication functions, they also afford the United States and its allies the crucial ability to project combat power to areas of conflict and instability. DIA’s report, “Challenges to Security in Space — 2022,” notes that American efforts to ensure that the space domain remains secure, stable and accessible are under threat.

Released on April 12, 2022, DIA’s report details Chinese and Russian efforts to establish space forces and expand space weapons capabilities are contributing to the increased militarization of the space domain.

“The loss of space-based communication and navigation services could have a devastating impact on warfighters during a conflict — that’s one of the most serious scenarios anticipated. A secure, stable and accessible space domain is crucial as China and Russia’s space-based capabilities and electronic-warfare activities continue to grow,” said DIA Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier.

Both nations view space as a requirement for winning modern wars, especially against Western nations, and look to prove themselves as world leaders in space by establishing global norms of space behavior. They will persist in seeking ways to exploit the perceived U.S. reliance on space-based systems and integrate their space and counterspace programs into their respective militaries, according to DIA.

“Challenges to Security in Space — 2022,” is DIA’s second iteration of an unclassified intelligence product that examines the space and counterspace capabilities of the militaries of America’s nearest competitors. This volume details the space defense and military goals — including strategy, plans and intentions — of China and Russia and, to a limited extent, Iran and North Korea. It builds on the original 2019 report, with updates on threats to the U.S. space posture and details operational risks associated with the growing amounts of orbital debris including fragmentation from collisions and battery explosions.

DIA’s series of unclassified, foundational overviews is designed to help the public achieve a deeper understanding of key challenges and functional threats to U.S. national security, focusing on near-peer competitors and challengers such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

The Agency has a long history of producing comprehensive and authoritative defense intelligence overviews. In 1981, DIA published the first unclassified “Soviet Military Power” report, which was translated into eight languages and distributed around the world. DIA published “Russia Military Power” in June 2017; “Global Nuclear Landscape 2018” in 2018; the second volume of “China Military Power” in January 2019; “Challenges to Security in Space” in February 2019; the third volume of “Iran Military Power” in November 2019; and “North Korea Military Power” in October 2021.

The “Challenges to Security in Space — 2022” report is now available here

DIA’s mission is to provide intelligence on foreign militaries to prevent and decisively win wars.

DIA officers are united in a common vision — to be the indispensable source of defense intelligence expertise for the Nation. For 60 years, DIA has met the full range of security challenges faced by the United States. DIA intelligence officers operate around the world, supporting customers from forward-deployed warfighters to national policymakers.