Military hotlines with Russia and China to prevent wars in space
Emergence of hotlines among nations in Space
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hotlines between heads of state have long been maintained to avoid the possibility of a nuclear war being triggered by an accident or miscalculation. A hotline was established with Russia during recent US military actions in the airspace above Syria to assure flight safety.
With space now being considered a sphere of war, Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman suggested that hotlines between US and foreign adversaries be examined.
Saltzman oversaw aviation missions in the Middle East for the US Air Forces Central Command before joining the Space Force.
This week, Saltzman is visiting allies across Europe. Many of the chats, he added, were about “strategic competitiveness.” It’s taking place in space between the United States, China, and Russia, with “lessons learnt from history regarding miscommunication,” he says.
Activities during the Air Campaign
“The hotline that we used during the air campaign over Syria was to make as much of our actions as open as possible and strive to avoid such miscommunications,” he said.
Because objects in orbit are “impossible to observe,” the risk of mischaracterizing what any country is doing in space is considerably greater than in the air, he said. For example, a civilian surveillance satellite could be misinterpreted for a hostile counterspace weapon. “We can’t use our visual reference points in space.” We have no choice but to rely on radar. We have to rely on telescopes, which introduces a measure of risk.”
“At least we would have a dialogue before we draw the wrong assumptions if there was a hotline,” she says. And we don’t have that capability right now. However, I believe the concept needs a full-fledged debate.”
On Nov. 3, Saltzman delivered the keynote address at the Global Milsatcom 2021 conference in London. One of the topics, he said, was a desire for more collaboration on space security. “It’s a global concern to establish responsible standards and practises.”
He claimed that the US is still “the most capable spacefaring nation in terms of the capabilities we have on orbit.” China, on the other hand, offers a significant threat. “They recognise that if they can seize some of our capabilities, they can turn the tables on us in terms of strategic advantage,” Saltzman continued. “And there isn’t a single system that poses the greatest threat.
It’s all about how quickly they’re creating all of their systems. They’re pursuing such a wide range of counterspace capabilities and high-end technology that the speed is the most frightening factor. They’re progressing from a ‘nice notion’ to a full-scale capability being proven in space.”