"Space Weapons, The Key to Assured Survival"

Report Defense

"Space Weapons, The Key to Assured Survival"

February 2, 1984 35 min read Download Report
Brian Foelber
Policy Analyst, Africa and the Middle East

(Archived document, may contain errors)

February 2, 1984 SPACE WEAPONS THE KEY TO 'ASSURED SURVIVAL INTRODUCTION As a result of congressional effor ts to ban U.S. testing of weapons in space1 and the recent testing of an anti-satellite ASAT) weapon by the United States, increased attention is being directed to the question of whether the United States should have a space weapons2 capability. Given th e Soviet space weapons and treaty compliance record, along with the benefits to U.S. military U.S. national interest. Perhaps more important, a ban on space weapons would prevent the U.S. from deploying defensive space weapons as part of the strategic defe n se system envisioned by President Reagan tect the U.S. homeland from nuclear attack, reinforce deterrence protect U.S. conventional forces and satellites from Soviet threats, and help stabilize crisis situations. security, the continued development of spa c e weapons is in the Such a strategic defense system would help pro The control of space weapons through a negotiated agreement with the Soviets is a flawed idea. First and foremost, an ASAT ban would deny the U.S. the opportunity to develop and deploy the most essential feature of a strategic defense system-a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system. A BMD system would inevitably have ASAT capabilities and would be banned also. The U.S. thus would be locked into reliance on offensive nuclear forces to deter a t tack, and the threat of almost total societal destruction in a nuclear conflict would remain Second, an ASAT ban would not even accomplish what its pro ponents claim it would, that is, the protection of U.S. space assets. Such a ban would be virtually i m Dossible to verify, and the Soviets' compliance with past ami cohtrol agreements is poor enough to suggest that, given the opportunity, they would find ways to circumvent an ASAT ban. 2 There are, of course, many technological barriers left to cross befor e the U.S. achieves an effective strategic defense.

But the potential benefits of space weapons are far too great and the present dangers far too real--to bargain away a chance for real security.

BACKGROUND Soviet long-range, nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles could destroy the U.S. as a viable society in hours, if not minutes.

Early in the missile age U.S. scientists recognized the potential of space weapons to shoot down Soviet missiles as they travelled through space in high arcs to targets in the Unite d States. The Eisenhower Administration in 1959 initiated a crash research and development effort, called Project Defender, to develop a multi tiered ballistic missile defense force with space weapons in the first layer.3 Although early studies were optim i stic about tech nical feasibility, Project Defender was cancelled in part because the Soviet ICBM threat did not materialize as soon as expected and because the Kennedy Administration wanted to build up U.S strategic offensive and conventional forces for deterrence.

Since the mid-l960s, the U.S. has based its security against nuclear attack solely on deterrence through retaliation. U.S thinking about strategic nuclear affairs has been dominated by the view that defending populations against missile attack is not cost-effective. Many opponents of strategic defense also have which holds that to deter nuclear war the U.S. and the Soviet Union must have the capability to inflict "assured destruction massive civilian casualties and economic devastation) on each other. According to MAD, defending populations is bad, because it would upset the "balance of terror" and be perceived as a threatening bid for nuclear superiority by the other side. The result: a futile arms race and increased tensions between the superp o wers. Under the sway of MAD, the U.S. government abandoned plans for a nationwide anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system in the mid-l960s, virtually dismantled U.S. civil and air defenses, and in 1972 signed a treaty with the Soviet Union limiting deployment of ABM systems to two sites (later reduced to one), thereby fore closing the option of population deiense I I subscribed to the doctrine of "mutual assured destruction MAD I Changes in the decade and a half since anti-missile defenses were rejected, howev e r, are sufficient to warrant a reappraisal of strategic defense on many fronts. A 1983 study by a Croup of top scientific experts the Defense Technologies Study Team) concluded that technological advances of the last 25 years and those anticipated in the n ext 10 years make space-based ballistic missile defense feasible even against sophisticated Soviet countermeasures.4 Advances in ground-based missile defense,techpol.ogy and anti-bomber/anti-cruise missile technology also have been considerable Science ha s made tremendous breakthroughs 3 The strategic need for population defenses is. far greater today than in the mid-1960s. The Soviet Union has never accepted U.S. views of,deterrence, which stress the need for mutually secure second-strike forces. In accor d ance with its explicit nuclear war-winning strategic do~trine the Soviet Union has deployed a large force of very powerful land- and sea-based bal listic missiles. Using less than one-half of its total force the USSR could destroy in a first strike up to 9 0 percent of America's silo-based ICBMs 70 percent of the U.S. strategic bomber force 40 percent of U.S. missile firing submarines, and key components of the U.S. command and control structure essen tial for effective retaliation.6 Soviet Strategic Defens e The Soviets also have invested heavily in strategic defenses to protect vital Soviet military, economic, and political assets from whatever retaliation the U.S. could muster after a Soviet first strike. Soviet air defenses, for example, comprise 2,500 in t erceptor aircraft, 10,000 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs and 5,000 radars-which are being upgraded with new interceptors with look-down/shoot-down radars and missiles, new SAMs, and airborne warning and control aircraft (AWACS) to defend against low flying U.S. bombers and cruise mi~siles The Soviets spend about $3 billion a year on civil defense programs, which are capable of reducing4oviet civilian casualties to World War I1 levels under certain conditions.8 U.S. civil defense in EY 1984 Congress appropri a ted $169 million for The Soviet Union signed the 1972 ABM treaty not because Soviet leaders agreed that populations should remain defenseless but, more likely, because they wanted to prevent the U.S. from protecting its ICBMs and other strategic assets fr o m a Soviet atta~k Since 1972 the Soviet Union has energetically pursued ABM research and development--the U.S. dismantled its one ABM site in 1976--and is currently upgrading its ABM system around Moscow with new radars and interceptors.1 Some of the upgr a des violate the 1972 ABM Treaty. Reportedly, the Soviet Union has built facilities for mass production of ABM system components that would give the USSR the capability for rapid deployment of a nationwide ABM system The Soviet Union is also developing gro u nd- and space-based directed energy weapons (lasers and particle beams)12 for destroy ing U.S. ballistic missile warheads. According to the Defense Department the USSR is spending three to five times more than the U.S. on research and development of laser weapons and could deploy the world's first orbiting laser weapon satellite in the next five years,13 thus providing valuable operational experience for a multi-platform space missile defense system that could be deployed around the turn of the century.14 T he Soviets are al ready conducting tests of pointing and tracking mechanisms for laskr weapons15 (similar U.S. experiments are not scheduled until 1987) and apparently have test fired an experimental ground laser weapon located at Sary Shagan against 'Sov i et reentry vehicles.16 Thus, it is clear that the unrelenting offensive buildup by the Soviets jeopardizes the survival of American nuclear deterrent forces The Soviets defensive measures have further degraded the effectiveness of the U.S. deterrent and t h eir continued re search, development, and production confront the U.S. with the disconcerting possibility of a rapid expansion of Soviet defen sive capabilities and a po'tentially decisive Soviet strategic superiority L BENEFITS OF U.S. SPACE WEAPONS Why S trategic Defense To offset Soviet advantages in the strategic nuclear balance the U.S. must enhance the survivability'of its offensive nuclear forces and improve their capability to threaten important Soviet military targets. To maintain U.S. security in t he long run however, requires a .fundamental change in the U.S. force posture deployment of defense systems to protect the U.S. homeland from nuclear attack There are at least four stron arguments for the development of a strategic defense capability: 77 1 ) Strategic defense would bolster deterrence by denying the Soviets the ability to destroy U.S. retaliatory nuclear forces and other U.S. economic and military assets. With less certainty of success, the Soviets would be less inclined to attack, even in c r isis situations 2 from limited nuclear aggression against U.S. allies. By defending the U.S the credibility of an extended U.S. nuclear umbrella could be improved. The confidence of U.S. allies in U.S. ability and will to assist in their defense would als o be restored Strategic defense would more effectively deter the Soviets 3 war. Additional reaction time for leaders would be provided.

Accidental launches, rather than detonating on U.S. soil, would be destroyed, thus lessening the chances of escalation S trategic defense would limit the danger of accidental nuclear 4) Strategic defense is specifically intended to save lives and limit damage should deterrence fail, such an approach is eminently practical and profoundly more moral than current strategic doc t rine which relies heavily on mutual assured destruction Given the potentially catastrophic consequences Space weapons would play a critica:L role in a strategy of U.S. homeland defense, the key to which is to deploy multiple layers of defense. As Soviet m i ssiles passed through each defense layer, fewer and fewer would survive, thus making the task of de fense-easier and more effective for each successive layer. It is important to attack Soviet missiles as soon as possible to allow 5 for multiple defense en g agements and to destroy missiles before they disperse their multiple warheads defense force posture, then, should include space-based anti ballistic missile weapons capable of destroying Soviet missiles in their vulnerable boost phase (the first few minut e s of flight and space- or ground-based weapons capable of destroying missiles during their gliding stage in space An effective str3tegic The Soviet ASAT Threat In addition to their contribution to strategic defense space weapons could help protect U.S. sa t ellites from a growing Soviet ASAT threat. The U.S. depends heavily on satellites for a number of military functions-communications (over 70 percent of U.S. overseas military communication travels by satellite), sur veillance, reconnaissance, navigation, a nd meteorology. This dependency is increasing. Of particular importance 'to U.S security are those satellites supporting the U.S. nuclear deter rent forces by providing command, control, and communications channels, early warning of Soviet missile launche s , tracking of missile flight paths; damage assessment, and post-attack recon naissance. These functions are critical for planning and executing controlled retaliatory nuclear strikes against stra- tegically vital Soviet targets (such as nuclear missile si l os command bunkers, and centers of political control As the Scowcroft Commission and nuclear strategists in both Democratic and Republican administrations have recognized, the capability to reply in kindin a controlled war to the full spectrum of ossible S oviet nuclear attacks is essential for stable deterrence 8 Destruction of U.S. command, control, and intelligence satel lites in a surprise first strike to paralyze U.S. strategic nuclear retaliatory forces seems to be a high priority in Soviet war plans. l g for example, commenced with a simulated attack on a U.S. stra tegic satellite by a Soviet ASAT system-the only ASAT system currently operational. This system consists of a "killer satellitell launched from a variant of the SS-9 Scarp ICBM into a co-plan ar, intersecting or near orbit to the target.22 a radar guided satellite that explodes on command near the target and an infrared guided system that fires pellets at the target.

The capability of the Soviet orbiting ASAT system is limited but not insignifi cant tested successfully, the success rate of the radar system is 70 percent. Only a few launch pads are dedicated to the ASAT mis sion, and the Soviet ASAT system is effective only against U.S satellites orbiting below 900 miles, primarily reconnaissance satellites. On the other hand, the Soviets are modifying their huge SL-12 booster to launch "killer satellitesll against U.S early warning and communications satellites in high orbit,23 and they may be'able to modify their ASAT weapon to perform multiple k ills and to function as a space mine A large-scale 1982 Soviet nuclear war exercise,20 Two versions of the Soviet ASAT system have been tested Although the infrared system has not yet been I 6 The USSR is also developing and testing ground- and space base d directed energy and conventional weapons for attackir;g U.S satellites in all orbits. Launch of a Soviet prototype orhiting laser ASAT weapon is expected within the next five years, with perhaps six orbiting laser ASAT platforms deployed by 1990.24 In Ap r il 1981, the Soviets launched a large 15-ton maneuvering space craft, Cosmos 1267, which reportedly llcarried ejection ports for small infrared homing torpedoes capable of destroying military satellites on impact.lf25 I U.S. Space Weapons and the Defense of U.S. Satellites Ensuring survivability of U.S. satellites against Soviet ASAT weapons poses a major challenge to U.S. defense planners.

Four methods of enhancing the survivability of U.S. satellites have been discussed ment of ASAT weapons 2) use of pas sive survival aids 3) de ployment of U.S. ASAT weapons to deter Soviet ASAT attacks; and 4) deployment of a space defense system to defend U.S. satellites 1) a treaty banning the testing and deploy An ASAT weapons ban is not the solution to the problem.

B ecause ASAT weapons tend to be small, easy to hide, and easy to disguise, verification of such a treaty would be most difficult.26 And lack of Soviet compliance with existing arms control Treaties raises serious doubts about their compliance with an ASAT treaty.

There are a number of llpassivetl measures by which the U.S could enhance satellite survivability, some of which the U.S government is already funding.27' Using a wide variety of such measures, the U.S:could probably ensure a high degree of sur viv ability for its satellites against current Soviet ASAT capa bilities. The effectiveness of passive measures against later generation ASAT weapons, however, is uncertain.28 Trying to deter a Soviet attack on U.S. satellites by deploy ing a U.S. ASAT system to threaten Soviet satellites (survivability through deterrence) is probably not the solution to U.S. satellite vulnerability. The Soviets are less dependent on satellites for military operations than is the U.S. and, hence, might find it militarily worth w hile to sacrifice their satellites for those of the United States.29 In the absence of an ASAT ban, the U.S. could use space mis sile defense weapons to help protect U.S. satellites against Soviet ASAT attacks. U.S. laser missile defense weapons, for exam p le or even the new unsophisticated U.S. ASAT weapons just tested could be used to shoot down Soviet space mines. A ballistic mis sile defense would also improve the survivability of the vulnera ble ground installations, which control many U.S. satellites.

In the final analysis, if the U.S. cannot ensure an adequate level of survivability for its satellites at an affordable cost it may have to rely on more survivable atmospheric systems to Perform those functions now performed bv satellites. As John 7 Pike, space analyst for the Federation of American Scientists has pointed out Surrogate satellites offer a very attractive surviva bility option. Indeed, the most survivable satellite may be an airplane.

Vehicles can provide excellent in-theater weather and reconnaissance information, and a network of these drones could provide theater and transoceanic communi cations links.

In short, even if U.S. satellites cannot be adequately protected by passive and a ctive measures, there remain ways to ensure that U.S. armed forces can still successfully perform their military missions High Altitude Remotely Piloted Space Weapons and U.S. Nuclear Force Survivability Under current conditions, even more than satellites , many ground- and air-based elements of the U.S. strategic deterrent force-satellite tracking and control facilities, airborne and underground command posts, ground-based communications receivers and transmitters, radars, strategic bomber bases, and land- b ased ICBMs--would suffer extensive damage from a Soviet first strike U.S. nuclear forces probably would be left blind, paralyzed, and ment its nuclear strategy of controlled limited nuclear counter strikes against Soviet strategic forces. To some extent, p assive measures could increase the survival chances of the U.S. nuclear force. Examples: ICBMs could be redeployed in a mobile or mul tiple protective shelter mode; communication systems could be hardened against nuclear effects, made mobile, or supported with redundant s stems. Yet passive measures might not offer enough protection y1 Soviet missiles in space, could substantially enhance strategic force survivability against present and future Soviet first-strike threats. At the minimum, space weapons wou l d complicate Soviet planning for a first strike. The Soviets would not be able to foresee which of their missiles would be destroyed and which of their targets would consequently escape destruction. Adding to Soviet uncertainties clearly enhances deterren c e seriously weakened, significantly impairing U.S. ability to imple- I Active defenses, including weapons to intercept Space Weapons and Conventional Force Survivability The Soviets deploy spacecraft that pose serious threats to U.S. military forces. Thes e include 0 radar and electronic ocean reconnaissance satellites (RORSATs and EORSATs), which track U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups and provide targeting data for Soviet air- and sea-launched cruise missiles and Soviet anti-carrier ballistic missiles;3 2 0 manned orbiting space stations, which could provide extremely valuable reconnaissance information about U.S. force deploy ments 3 3 8 0 navigation, communications, and reconnaissance satellites 0 unmanned Itspace plane" weapons now being developed, whi c h could deliver nuclear weapons against U.S. carrier task forces In some limited way, a U.S. ASAT capability might deter Soviet aggression Despite the fact that the USSR is less de pendent on satellites than the U.S. for important military func tions, Sov i et satellites contribute significantly to their military potential and that dependence is growing. Should con flict occur, there are passive measures, such as electronic jamming that U.S. conventional forces could use to counter Soviet space systems becau s e llcounter-countermeasureslt are closely guarded Soviet military secrets. Given the current asymmetry of this signifi cance, for the U.S. to attack Soviet satellites first during a conflict makes little sense. If, however, the Soviets'were to initiate a w ar in space by attacking U.S. satellites, a U.S. ASAT capability would be useful in defending U.S. forces. while ideally U.S. forces should be able to fulfill their missions facing threats enhanced by Soviet spacecraft there can be no argument that reduc t ion of the threat would be desirable Their effectiveness is uncertain if only As noted previously, if the Soviet ASAT threat grows, th2 utility 0f.U.S. ASAT capability also .will grow because of its ability to provide active defense for U.S. space assets. This will make U.S. ASAT capabilities even more essential in the. fiture U.S SPACE WEAPONS PROGRAMS Technological Options The U.S. at last is developing and testing a variety of space weapons. In response to the Soviet ASAT threat the Carter Admin istrati o n in 1977 approved development of a U.S. ASAT weapon and supported research and development of directed energy weapons DEWS) for possible use in a variety of space missions, including defense of U.S. satellites (DSAT In March 1913 President Reagan endorse d the development of space weapons for mi.ssile defense of the U.S. population The Air Force has just begun testing the booster stage of its ASAT weapon.35 This system consists of an Itimpact ki1P in frared guided miniature homing vehicle (MHV) launched fr o m a two-stage rocket carried to high altitudes by an F-15 supersonic fighter. As currently configured, the MHV can destroy only Soviet satellites orbiting below 250 miles, but it could be effective against high altitude Soviet spacecraft and I1killersatsl t if mounted on an earth launched booster Like the Soviet Union, the U.S. is developing directed energy weapons. The laser development effort, managed by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA has focused so 9 far on a 5-megawatt c h emical laser suitable for limited ASAT mis sions. The Administration's Defense Technologies Study Team, how ever has recommended parallel development of more powerful laser weapons, including ground-based llexcimerll lasers and nuclear powered X-ray syste m s, for use against Soviet ballistic missiles.36 A restructuring of the laser program is in progress to reflect the new mission of ballistic missile defense. Other laser tech nology programs include development of target acquisition, laser pointing and tra c king mechanisms (Projsct Talon Gold) and devel opment of large mirrors for laser beam focusing and control. The development timetable of laser weapons is contingent on funding levels, but some experts believe that a U.S. prototype orbiting space defense l a ser weapon could be ready for operational testing in the early 1990s Because of their high energy density, neutral particle beam weapons would be more effective than lasers against Soviet bal listic missiles, but their.development lags considerably behind that of lasers.37 As an alternative to directed energy weapons some scientists have urged the Defense Department to look at con ventional off-the-shelf technology for a rapidly deployable space missile defense system. The "High Frontierll study, for examp l e recommends deployment of a multi-tiered BMD system with the first line of defense held by 432 orbiting platforms each armed with about 45 infrared rockets for intercept of Soviet missiles in their boost phase.38 If effective, such a system could be chea p er and quicker to deploy than a laser system OTHER ISSUES Military Effectiveness Obviously, space weapons will not be cheap. There are no reliable cost estimates yet, but a baseline space defense missile force, capable of destroying a high number of Sovie t missiles could cost from $100-$200 billion. Even if space weapons could be overcome, deployment would still be desirable, if the cost to the Soviets of defeating them were roughly equivalent to, or greater than, the cost of deployment to the U.S. Such a system would presumably offer some benefit by retaining at least a degree of effectiveness and would, at the very least, divert Soviet mili tary resources from more directly threatening programs.

Although space weapons present serious technological chal le nges, almost all scientists agree that they are technically feasible in'the sense that the U.S and the Soviet Union) can build beam weapons powerful and accurate enough to destroy bal listic missiles. Critics claim, however, that space weapons have two fa t al defects. First, the Soviets can cheaply counter U.S space weapons by: using ablative coatings or fluids to shield Soviet missiles from lasers; spinning missiles to prevent laser heat buildup; polishing missile skins to-reflect laser beams jamming laser wavelengths; and shielding booster rocket plumes deploying flares, or modifying boosters for shorter rocket burns to confuse infrared sensors. Second, they claim that U.S. space 10 weapons would be vulnerable to attack by Soviet space mines nuclear weapon s amd laser weapons.

These countermeasures pose significant challenges to U.S space weapons. It is not clear, however, that Soviet counter measures would be cheap or that the U.S. could not successfully deal with them at an affordable cost. For example, th e Soviets spent massive sums of money to develop and procure their current force of multiple and single warhead ICBMs and submarine launched ballistic missiles. To ensure adequate penetration of a U.S space missile defense force, the Soviets would have to rebuild missiles with hardened skins or deploy more missiles-at con siderable cost There are also potential U.S. countermeasures to protect U.S space Qeapons against Soviet attack. For example, U.S. space weapons could be hardened against nuclear effects, such as elec tromagnetic pulse. It is a long way from the "back of the envelope design of countermeasures to deployment of a cheap'effective capa bility There are, for example, countermeasures to tanks such as anti-tank guns, missiles, mines, and other we a pons (many much cheaper than tanks yet tank forces still wing battles. The Defense Technologies Study Team reviewed a wide range of possible Soviet counters to U.S. space defense weapons. It zoncluded that an effective space anti-missile defense is still a chievable and affordable development of space weapons for confident assessments that space weapons are not cost-effective. The history of military tech nology'is replete with false predictions about the lack of feasi bility and ineffectiveness of various w eapons systems the military potential of space weapons justifies a well-funded program of research, development, and testing While the DTST may be wrong, it is too early in the Certainly Space Weapons and Stability Many critics of space weapons worry that U;S. deployment of such systems would be lldestabilizing,ll that is, it would make war more likely. More specifically, these critics aggue that 0 U.S. deployment of space weapons would create a hair-trigger situation in which each side would be tempted to attack the other side's satellites and space weapons first in time of crisis to prevent the destruction its own valuable satellites and space weapons Soviet leaders are likely to see U.S. space missile defense weapons as giving the U.S. a war winning capa b ility and de- cide to destroy U.S. space weapons before they become fully operational 0 0 U.S. deployment of space weapons would intensify the arms race, as each side deployed weapons to prevent the other side from achieving military superiority. The resu l t is increased superpower tension 11 Stability is a proper concern of U.S. defense planners, but It is, of course, quite possible that the U.S. can protect these arguments are based on some questionable assumptions its satellites and space weapons from So v iet attack. As long as U.S. defensive systems were reasonably secure, the Soviets would be less certain of military success and thus less likely to strike in a crisis situation. However, even if the U.S. deployed space weapons with a reasonable degree of c onfidence in their effective Soviets could develop unforeseen countermeasures that would place those space weapons in jeopardy. Even this development would not necessarily be destabilizing. ness and survivability, there would.be a possibility that the Fir s t, space defense weapons complement strategic nuclear offensive forces but do not replace them. The U.S. should main- tain retaliatory forces that are survivable in their own right. Thus even if the Soviets could overcome U.S. defenses, they would still f ace a retaliation in kind to the full spectrum of attacks they might launch.

Second, given the direction of recent Soviet research and development and the significance of strategic defense in Soviet doctrine, it is likely that the Soviets will attempt to d eploy a force of space-based missile defense weapons, particularly if the U.S. does so. If both sides' space weapons are vulnerable, the result is not destabilizing. Mutual vulnerability of offensive nuclear weapons is destabilizing. The existence of defe n sive sys- tems (vulnerable or not) mearis that, if war should come, the first shots would inevitably be fired in space, thereby providing an additional threshold to be crossed prior to the use of nuclear weapons. This threshold would provide additional ti m e to communi cate with the Soviets to try to stabilize a crisis. Chances for successful U.S. retaliation would also increase by providing addi- tional reaction time for time sensitive U.S. strategic offensive forces, such as bombers. Deterrence should thu s be strengthened as well. Provided the U.S. maintains a sufficient offensive deterrent, the USSR should have no incentive to attack U.S defense systems, even if they were vulnerable.

The argument has also been made that ASAT weapons would destabilize a cr isis situation because the destruction of communi- cations and intelligence satellites would diminish the intelli- gence, command, and communication capabilities necessary to control escalation. weapons, this argument is flawed. An attack on U.S. satellit e s would be an act of extreme provocation that would make sense only in'the context of a larger conflict. there would be little or no incentive to attack satellites, thus leaving U.S. crisis control assets intact. Even if the Soviets should attack U.S. sat e llites in a lower level-crisis, there would be little chance of unjustified U.S. nuclear escalation. Current U.S. policy is not to retaliate with strategic nuclear forces until there is absolute confirmation of nuclear attack, that is, nuclear Even with t he advent of more capable ASAT In a lower level crisis .I 12 explosions in the U.S. The destruction of U.S. satellites, however provocative, should not trigger U.S. nuclear retaliation.

Futhermore, deployment of neWASAT weapons will not take place in a vac uum U.S; countermeasures (such as passive survival aids active defenses, and more reliance on high altitude remotely piloted vehicles) can help ensure an adequate flow of information It also seems odd that those arguing against ASAT weapons on the grounds of their effect on crisis stability are often opposed to strategic defense (which is designed to control escalation and limit damage) and wedded to MAD, a strategy that, in the event of a deterrence failure, logically ends in the deliberate execution of m illions of people-hardly a model of escalation control.

The truly extraordinary suggesti.on has been made that the mere prospect of deployment of ballistic missile defense systems might trigger World War III.41 strike preemptive'ly if faced with U.S. deplo yment of space defense weapons are, fortunately, extremely low U.S. deployment of space weapons does not directly threaten the Soviet Union. It would tilt the strategic balance in favor of the U.S. only if the Soviets did nothing A balance would be mainta i ned, however, if the Soviets deployed a comparable defense capability leaders, mutual survivability of the superpowers through spacc defense should be preferable to nuclear war The odds that the Soviets would For any rational Soviet The argument that U.S. deployment of space weapons would fuel the arms race assumes falsely that the current Soviet military activity buildup is in reaction to U.S. weapons 'programs. But as Jimmy Carter's Secretary of Defense Harold Brown has pointed out When we build, the Sov i ets build. When we don't build, the Soviets build.1142 Twenty years ago, the Soviet Union embarked on a defense buildup, evidently aimed at achieving overall military superiority This has proceeded at a steady pace, undeterred DY a decade of detente, SALT , and a voluntary near-freeze of its arsenal by the U.S What U.S. deployment of space weapons can do is redirect Mutual deployment of strategic defenses would Soviet efforts into more stabilizing and less threatening defen sive systems create a new stable o rder in which the Soviet Union would have no incentive to launch a nuclear attack against the U.S Space Weapons and Arms Control Many critics of space weapons look to arms control as the primary means to deal with the Soviet military threat trol, however, has failed to reduce that threat signficantly.

Indeed, since the onset of strategic nuclear arms control negotia tions in 1969, the balance has shifted dangerously in the direc tion of Soviet nuclear superiority. The U.S., therefore, must rely on its own defenses for its security. In particular, Wash ington should not sign an arms control.agreement with the Soviet Union banning space weapons. Such an action would deprive the Arms ccn13 U.S. of its most important means of defending the American people agai n st Soviet missile attack.43 U.S. experience with the Soviets regarding earlier arms con trol efforts suggests that arms control would be inadequate to deal with the threat of Soviet space weaponsI sistently resist tightly worded treaty provisions I, the r esult invariably is that Moscow fully exploits treaty loopholes to continue developing weapons of str.ategic importance.

Even within the distressingly loose constraints of flawed treaties Soviet compliance has been poor. Specifically, the Soviets have test ed SAMs in an ABM mode for upgrading air defenses for anti ballistic missile missions, developed and tested mobile radars and missile launchers, deployed battle management radars. for a nationwide ABM system, and tested rapid reload launchers-all in viola t ion of the ABM Treaty. The Reagan Administration has just issued a report further detailing Soviet arms control violations The Soviets con As with SALT Crucial to any. arms treaty with the USSR is the U.S. ability to verify Soviet compliance A U.S. State D epartment assess ment,44 however, finds that the arms control agreement banning the testing and deployment of space weapons recently proposed by the Soviet Union (and similar to that proposed by U.S. space arms control proponents) would not be verifiable b y U.S. sunreillance satellites or ground-, sea-, and air-based listening posts operat ing on the periphery of the USSR. These so-called national tech nical means of verification are the only verification instruments Moscow has approved Arms control advoca t es argue that,passive measures could protect U.S. satellites against any ASAT capabilities the Soviets could develop and deploy covertly in violation of an ASAT ban Because an ASAT ban is so difficult to verify, it would seem that the Soviets could covert l y deploy space mines and ASAT missiles on manned and unmanned spacecraft, in addition to their current orbiting killer satellite. The Soviets might not be able to covertly test new generation weapons sufficiently to warrant high confidence in their capabi lity, but such weapons might still be effective if war broke out. The effectiveness of passive measures against covert deployment of these more sophisticated ASAT weapons is very uncertain.

Union is thus very risky determination of the U.S. to react prompt ly and forcefully to Soviet treaty violations. Although the U.S. government has sub stantial evidence of Soviet violations of SALT agreements Washington has failed to adjust its arms control policy and defense programs. Pressure by U.S. arms control enthu s iasts, who seem intent on preserving the arms control process despite Soviet treaty violations, has made it extremely difficult for the Admin istration to gain con ressional support for a strong U.S. response The signing of an ASAT ban with the Soviet In a ny case, space arms control advocates overestimate the to these violations 49 14 Arms control is not an end in itself. Proposals for limiting weapons deployments must be evaluated in terms of their effect on U.S. national security and their contribution t o preserving world peace A ban on space weapons would deprive the U.S. of the means to defend itself against nuclear attack even as the Soviets con tinued to build up their nuclear warfighting offensive and defen sive capabilities CONCLUSION Security somet imes is enhanced by new kinds of weapons.

Example the U.S. deployment of missile firing submarines, which gives the U.S. a sunrivable force that could retaliate if the Soviets attacked U.S. cities. Likewise, space weapons would en hance 0.S. security by he lping protect the U.S. population and U.S military forces. from Soviet nuclear attack Critics of space weapons are rightly concerned about the implications of space weapons deployment for the security of U.S satellites. Their solution-an ASAT weapons ban- - however, would foreclose the option of effective strategic defense must do much more to protect its satellites from new Soviet ASAT weapons. A full program of passive survival aids is needed, in cluding deployment of spare satellites in space, design of s a tel lites with a maneuvering capability, and hardening of satellites against nuclear effects. Deployment of space laser weapons in the 1990s would provide substantial additional protection. Ulti mately, in wartime, the U.S. might have to reduce reliance o n satellites for military support functions The U.S The Defense Department currently is constructing a detailed road map" for the development of advanced space weapons. Congress should adequately fund a research and development effort leading to testing a p rototype orbiting space laser weapon by 1990 and rigorous operational testing of a space missile-defense system in the 1990s. At the same time, the U.S. should proceed with the testing and deployment of the miniature homing vehicle (MHV anti-satellite wea p on deterring Soviet attacks on U.S. satellites, and it could be used to defend U.S. satellites against Soviet killer satellites and to deny the Soviets use of valuable space systems in a conflict. It is essential, however, that the U.S. proceed immediatel y to reduce the vulnerability of its strategic nuclear forces to a Soviet first strike, for nuclear weapons will remain the bedrock of deterrence for the next twenty years at least U.S. decisive military superiority. Nor are they cheap. But their potential contribution is a new kind of security=-based on protecting U.S. lives rather than leaving them hostage in a dan- gerous "balance of terror It probably has some limited value in Space weapons are not wonder weapons capable of giving the 15 If space defens e could be achieved, it would be strategically imprudent and morally irresponsible not to deploy space weapons to defend the U.S. homeland against nuclear attack Robert Foelber Brian Green Policy Analysts and k After completing work on this study, Heritage Foundation Policy Analyst Robert Foelber joined the staff of the Library of Congress' Congressional Research Service 16 NOTES Resolutions to de-weaponize space have been introduced in both Houses of the 98th Congress. These include: H.J. Res. 87, introduc e d by Represen tative Robert W. Kastenmeier (D.-Wis and H.J. Res. 120, introduced by Joe Moakley (D.-Mass.) with 76 co-sponsors, which call on the President to resume talks with the Soviet Union aimed at banning all weapons from space From 1977 to 1979 the U.S. and USSR met in three rounds of negotiations to discuss a ban on ASAT weapons. The talks have been suspended since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan S.J. Res. 28 introduced by Sen. Paul Tsongas (D.-Mass.) is identical to the Moakley resolution. Sena t or Larry Pressler R.-S.D has introduced S. Res. 43 calling for negotiations to ban ASAT weapons as a first step toward a comprehensive ban on all space weapons. Attempts to delete funding for testing and advanced procurement of the ASAT system from the FY 1984 defense budget were defeated by Congress, although funding for testing is contingent on a presidential certification that the U.S. is proceeding in good faith to negotiate a treaty with the Soviet Union banning ASATs or that such tests In this paper space weaponf' refers to any ground-, air-, or space-based weapon which is capable of destroying or otherwise rendering inoperable objects orbiting in or transiting space, including satellites and bal listic missiles and their warheads.

John Bosma, "Space and Strategic-Defensive Reorientation: Project Defender,"

Defense Science and Electronics, September 1983, pp. 58-65.

The Defense Technologies Study Team, directed by former NASA head, James C.

Fletcher, was formed by the Administration to study the feasibility of space-based ballistic missile defense the White House in October, has not been made public, but for a discussion of its major findings, see Clarence A. Robinson, Jr Panel Urges Defense Technology Advances Aviation Week and Space Technology, October 17 1983, pp. 16-18; "Study Urges Exploiting of Technologies ibid October 24, 1983, pp. 50-57; and "Shuttle May Aid in Space Weapons Test ibid October 31, 1983, pp. 74-78.

For an analysis of S oviet nuclear doctrine, backed with copious citations from Soviet military writings, see Mark E. Miller, Soviet Strategic Power and Doctrine (Washington, D.C.: Advanced International Studies Institute 1982) and Joseph D. Douglass, Jr. and Amoretta Hoeber, Soviet Strategy for Nuclear War (Stanford, California: Hoover Institution Press, 1979).

Soviet nuclear doctrine stresses that the Soviet Union must have the capability to deliver a crushing blow to U.S. offensive nuclear forces and to defend the USSR against retaliation from surviving U.S. nuclear weapons.

George Wilson and Walter Pinkus "Missile Survival.Questioned Washington Post May 9, 1983, p. 1; Harold Brown, Department of Defense Annual Report to Congress, Fiscal Year 1982, p. 1

11. Roughly 30 percent of the U.S bomber force is on alert and about half of U.S. submarines are at sea at any given time; those forces would have a good chance of escaping a Soviet first strike.

Clarence A. Robinson, Jr Emphasis Grows on Nuclear Defense Aviation Week and S pace Technology, March 8, 1982, p. 36 are necessary for national security I I I The DTST's report, delivered to 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 1 8 19 17 Director of Central Intelligence, Soviet Civil Defense (N178-10003 July 19

78. Department of Defense, Sov iet Military Power (Washington, D.C Government Printing Office, 1983 p. 30 See Carnes Lord, "The ABM Question Commentary, May 1980, p. 34, and Robert P. Berman and John C. Baker, Soviet Strategic Forces: Requirements and Responses (Washington, D.C The Bro okings Institution, 1983 p. 149.

Spviet ABM upgrades are discussed in "Soviets Test Defense Missile Reload,"

Aviation Week and Space Technology, March 8, 1983, p. 27, and Berman and Baker, op. cit., p. 149.

Clarence A. Robinson, Jr Soviets Accelerate Missile Defense Efforts,"

Aviation Week and Space Technology, January 16, 1984, pp. 14-16; Michael Getler, "Soviets Seen Progressing Toward a Missile Defense System,"

Washington Post, January 20, 1984, p. A25 Laser weapons involve highly concentrated beams of light (photons) gener ated by a number of means including chemical reactions between hydrogen and fluoride gases (chemical lasers), exciting molecules of inert ga s es with electricity excimer" lasers), amplifying a laser beam with an electron beam (free electron lasers), or pumping a solid material with X-rays or gama rays generated from a nuclear explosion lasers produce different beams of different wavelength and strength.

Laser weapons kill their targets by heating them, shock wave propagation radiation, or a combination of these processes.

Particle beam weapons "work by accelerating subatomic particles--neutrons electrons, or protons (a charged particle beam).or ionized hydrogen atoms a neutral particle beam) at speeds approaching that of light, in very large quantities, creating an energy beam with a very high-energy density.

Such a beam can best be described as a manmade lighting bolt which, upon reaching its target, shatters the surface and then penetrates deeply thereby depositing its energy in a long narrow cone throughout the target."

Kenneth Harmon, "Directed Energy Weapons Grand Strategy: Countercur rents, August 15, 1982, pp. 2-8 Craig Corvault Soviet Antisatellite Treaty Raises Verification Issue,"

Aviation Week and Space Technology, August 29, 1983,mp. 20 Soviet Military Power, p. 68 The different Soviet Tracking Aviation Week and Space Technology, October 25, 1982 p. 15 Soviets Build Directed Energy Weapon," Aviation Week and Space Technology July 28, 1980, pp. 47-50 For a more detailed statement of these arguments, see Robert Foelber Strategic Defense Backgrounder No. 304, November 9, 1983 For a classic statement of U.S. nuclear doctrine, formulated during the Carter Administration in Presidential Directive-59 and reaffirmed by the Reagan Administration, see Harold Brown, Department of Defense, Annual Report Fiscal Year 1981, p. 66 For a discussion of Soviet ASAT doctrine, see Lawrence Freedman The S oviet Union and ' Anti-Space Defence Survival, July-August 1977, pp 16-

23. In 1964, the USSR established a special anti-space branch of its air defense force "to destroy space systems used by the enemy for military purposes, in their orbits using "special spacecraft and vehicles (e.g Avoiding Annihilation Heritage Foundation 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 18 satellite-interceptors which may be controlled either from the ground or by special crews Quoted in Freedman, p. 18.

The June 1982 test involved an anti- satellite test, two ICBM launches, an SS-20 launch, an SUM launch, and two ABM firings simulating, according to some U.S. analysts, in logical sequence a first-strike against U.S. ICBMs coupled with an attacked against U.S. satellites, followed by defense against U.S retaliatory strikes and a follow-up'second strike against the U.S. using SLBMs Soviet Stage Integrated Test of Weapons, Aviation Week and Space Technology, June 28, 1982, pp. 20-21.

From 1963 to 1970, the U.S. experimented with two crude ASAT weapons--Thor and Nike-Zeus missiles armed with nuclear warheads decommissioned in 1975, the Nike-Zeus in 19

67. Presumably, the Soviet Union also has the capability to launch nuclear missiles at satellites.

The Soviets claim that they have never tested ASAT weapons and that U.S cla'ims that the USSR has an operational ASAT system are "mythical For a brief discussion of Soviet efforts to "disinform" the West about Soviet space weapons programs, see James E. Oberg Andropov's Orbiting Bombs The Soviets' Ou ter-Space 'Peace' Strategy Reason, December.1983, pp 25-30.

The "near orbit approach, whereby the killersat performs a "pop up maneuver to bring it into' close proximity to the target, is militarily the most effective approach, since attacks can be more ea sily disguised Soviets Outspending U.S. On Space by $3-4 Billion Aviation Week and Space Technology, July 19, 1982, pp. 28-29.

Covault, op. cit p. 20 The Thor system was David Baker, The Shape of Wars to Come (New York: Stein and Day, 1982 p. 167 The diff iculties of arms control as a method of securing U.S. space assets are discussed in greater length later in this paper; see also Colin Gray, op. cit pp. 49-55.

Passive survival aids for satellites include: harden systems against nuclear effects, especially the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) phenomenon which can render electronic circuits inoperable, build maneuvering satel lites that can evade Soviet ASAT weapons, s tockpile spare satellites on the ground in high orbits in an inert state to be called down and activated in time of war, equip satellites with radar and infrared spoofing devices to provide false signatures to Soviet sensors, deploy decoy satellites and e quip satellites with umbrellas to deflect laser beams sion of threats and survival aids for U.S. satellites, see Robert B.

Giffen, U.S. Space System Survivability: Strategic Alternatives for the 1990s (Washington, D.C National Defense University Press, 1982).

Presidential Directive-37, signed in 1978, called for greater survivability of U.S. satellites.

This has led some space analysts, including military officers responsible for U.S. satellites, to favor an arms control agreement with the Soviet Union ba nning the testing and deployment of ASAT weapons. Civilian space arms control advocates tend to favor a treaty that would prevent the U.S from testing and deploying its new ASAT weapon trol advocates want to restrict only the testing and deployment of mor e advanced ASAT weapons For a discus Some military arms con 19 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 For a description of Soviet satellites and the argument that loss of Soviet satellites would not constitute a major reduction in Soviet war fighting capability, see S tephen M. Meyer Soviet Military Programmes and the 'New High Ground Survival, September-October 1983, pp. 204-215.

Colin S. Gray argues that Soviet dependence on satellites for successful nuclear operations is still considerable. American Military Space Po licy Information Systems, Weapons Systems, and Arms Control (Cambridge, Mass Abt Books, 1983 Anti-Satellite Weapons and Arms Control I Arms Control Today, December 1983, p. 1.

For example, U.S. airborne command posts 'can only stay aloft for 72 hours, eve n with air-to-air refueling, before they must land for brief maintenance. With defenses against Soviet missiles, the U.S. could selectively defend a certain number of airstrips to keep airborne command posts operating.

Soviet RORSATs use active radars pow ered by nuclear generators to detect U.S. surface naval vessels. EORSATs passively listen in on electronic emissions (radars, communications) to detect the location of surface vessels and possible submarines as well. Berman and Baker, op. cit pp. 162-1

64 . Robert Cooper, DARPA DirPctor, has called Soviet ocean satellites a major new threat" to U.S. naval forces Navy Warned of New Soviet Threat Chicago Tribune, March 18, 1982, p. 5 Major aspects of the Soviet manned space programme are exclusively mili tar y been outfitted in and tasked in two distinct versions: one for military missions and one for civilian missions. A wide range of reconnaissance ELINT (electronic intelligence and C3 (command-control-communications tasks and experiments have been performed by Soviet cosmonauts during extended says in space In 1981-2 cosmonauts were in orbit 286 days Meyer, op. cit pp. 204-2

05. By contrast, the U.S. did not have a man in space from 1975-1981 and the U.S. record for space endurance is only 84 days vs. 211 fo r the Soviets huge space station to be manned by 12-20 cosmonauts who could assist in constructing space weapons Soviets Outspend U.S. On Space by $3-4 Billion Aviation Week and Space Technology, July 19, 1982, pp. 28-29.

The Soviets appear to be developi ng two'versions of a space plane. The first is a small 2,000 pound unmanned orbiter which could be a more flexi ble weapon system than the Orbital and Fractional Orbital Bombardment Systems tested by the Soviets in the 1960s plane resembles the U.S. shutt le and could be ready for regular use within ten years.

Washington Post, March 17, 1983, p. A13; and James E. Oberg The Elusive Soviet Space Plane Omni September 1983.

For a brief account of the beginnings of the U.S. ASAT program, see U.S.

Senate, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Soviet Space Programs: 1976-1980 (Washington, D.C Government Printing Office Clarence A. Robinson, Jr Panel Urges Defense Technology Advances,"

Aviation Week and Space Technology, October 17, 1983, pp. 16-18.

Charged particle beam weapons would not work in space because the beams would be bent bv the earth's magnetic field For example, it is well known that the Salyut space station has The Soviet Union is now developing a The second Soviet space See Thomas O' Toole Soviet Test in Space May Be A-Weapons 1982 pp. 184-186. 20 38 39 40 41 42 4 i 44 45 General Daniel

0. Graham, High Frontier ton, D.C High Frontier Inc 1982).

Daniel Kaplan Lasers for Missile Defense The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, May 1983, pp. 5-8.

A recent publication of the Center for Defense Information, for example states a first strike. If both sides could suddenly lose their vital military satellites-and therefore much of their military capability--there is great pressure, especially in a crisis situation to launch nuclear weapons before the opportunity to do so is lost."

The Space Weapons Race The Defense Monitor, Vol. XII, Number-5, p. 7 According to a publication of the Union of Concerned Scientists even the mere prospect of ABM deplo yment could spark hostilities. The imminent dep.loyment of ABMs could temp an enemy to attack suddenly and decisively to disarm its opponent The New Arms Race: Star Wars Weapons (Briefing Papec No. 5 p. 5.

Joyce Larson and William Bodie, eds The Intellige nt Layperson's Guide to the Nuclear Freeze and Peace Debate (New York Information Center, 1981 p. 19 A New National Strate Washing Space weapons which threaten satellites increase incentives for Militarizing the Last Frontier National Strategy Space basin g is required for a BMD system designed to intercept ballistic missiles in their flight. The most recent draft treaty proposed by the Soviet Union seeks to prohibit deployment and/or testing of space-based weapons "designed to hit targets on the Earth, in t he air and in outer space This presumably would exclude the Soviet ground-based ASAT weapons, but surely would include any space basing of U.S. ballistic missile defenses A draft treaty by the Union of Concerned Scientists bans the deployment and testing o f any ASAT weapons anywhere. It is difficult to conceive of a BMD system that would not have some ASAT capability also; to argue that the purpose of ASAT and BMD weapons is different does not change the inherent technological overlap. A copy of UCS treaty may be found in the Congressional Record, May 18, 1983, pp.


Covalt, op. cit pp. 20-22.

The deleterious effect on U.S. security of the lack of a coherent and determined compliance policy is discussed in Soviet Treaty Violations and U.S. Compl iance Policy National Security Record, a monthly publi cation of The Heritage Foundation, December 1983 8


Brian Foelber

Policy Analyst, Africa and the Middle East