Space Force gets its first weapon: a satellite jammer

And the first sci-fi weapon the Space Force gets is....a device to scramble communications?

Space Force gets its first weapon: a satellite jammer

A recent image of the new radar jammers

Courtesy Photo by @L3HarrisTech
  • The United States Space Force recently got its first real weapon, a satellite communications jammer.
  • The device was previously used by the Air Force.
  • While seemingly mundane, the jammer will serve a very real purpose on the battlefield.

The United States Space Force has just gotten its first offensive weapon, a satellite jammer. While it might not be the kind of weapon that most people would have expected a space force to start with, the potential applications of the device will undoubtedly play a large part in future operations around the world.

I was expecting a laser of some kind, what is this?

The Counter Communications System Block 10.2, or CCS, is an upgrade to a previous device used by the United States Air Force for several years. The mechanism is understood to be a jammer that consists of a large trailer-mounted dish. When used, it scrambles incoming transmissions from enemy satellites. The effect is not permanent, allowing for communications to be restored after the device is turned off.

It would be used in combat operations to deny the benefits of satellite communications to enemy forces, a major factor in combat operations for any modern army.

How does it work?

We don't have the exact details of how it works—however, Maj. Seth Horner explained the recent updates to it by saying, "CCS has had incremental upgrades since the early 2000's, which have incorporated new techniques, frequency bands, technology refreshes, and lessons learned from previous block upgrades. This specific upgrade includes new software capabilities to counter new adversary targets and threats."

Popular Mechanics also found a technical source which speculates on the potential specifications of CCS:

"...it is reasonable to conclude that CCS can likely jam most of the major commercial frequencies (particularly C and Ku) and the most common military frequencies (X-band), with a possible capability in the increasingly popular Ka band. Also, it is likely that the CCS is targeted mainly at geostationary communications satellites (COMSATs), given that they are currently the primary source of satellite communications."

A recent tweet shows what the jammer looks like

Why is the Space Force getting this, if the Air Force already had it?

While the idea of blowing up satellites with lasers or rockets seems like more fun, some considerations make a jammer more practical than the alternatives.

A kinetic weapon, like a missile, being used to blow up enemy satellites would first have to get up to where military satellites orbit, a bit higher than where other ones tend to be. While this is not an impossible task, it is a problem to solve. After it blows up the target, the issue of debris would start. Even small pieces of space junk can tear other satellites apart, imagine what collateral damage could be caused by the results of this kind of action.

As for lasers, the kinks in laser weapons are still being worked out. There is a reason the Strategic Defense Initiative never worked.

The Space Force is getting this weapon because it does exactly what the Space Force is supposed to be doing according to its mission. This includes providing support for the other branches, when that support involves space. Stopping satellite communications to and from enemy units fits the bill.

Does anybody else have this capability?

The Russians, who had an independent Space Force on two separate occasions, have a similar weapon called the "Tirada-2S" However, as is standard for Russia, details are lacking. The Chinese are also working on a similar device.

With the transfer of the CCS to the Space Force, it now takes on offensive capabilities. While it may not be as flashy as Ion Cannons, Strategic Defense Initiatives, or Death Stars, the ability to jam a communications satellite will undoubtedly prove vital in future combat operations.

Live on Monday: Does the US need one billion people?

What would happen if you tripled the US population? Matthew Yglesias and moderator Charles Duhigg explore the idea on Big Think Live.

Big Think LIVE

Is immigration key to bolstering the American economy? Could having one billion Americans secure the US's position as the global superpower?

Keep reading Show less

Mystery anomaly weakens Earth's magnetic field, report scientists

A strange weakness in the Earth's protective magnetic field is growing and possibly splitting, shows data.

Satellite data shows a new, eastern center emerging in the South Atlantic Anomaly.

ESA
Surprising Science
  • "The South Atlantic Anomaly" in the Earth's magnetic field is growing and possibly splitting, shows data.
  • The information was gathered by the ESA's Swarm Constellation mission satellites.
  • The changes may indicate the coming reversal of the North and South Poles.
Keep reading Show less

Landau Genius Scale ranking of the smartest physicists ever

How Nobel Prize winner physicist Lev Landau ranked the best physics minds of his generation.

5th International Scientific Congress of Solvay L to r, 3rd row: A.Piccard, E.Henriot, P.Ehrenfest, E.Herzen, T.de Donder,T. Schrodinger, E.Verschaffelt, W.Pauli,, W.Heisenberg, R.H.Fowler, L.Brillouin, 2nd row: .Debye, M.Knudsen, W.L.Bragg, H.A.Kramers, P.A.MDirac, A.H.Compton, L.deBroglie, M.Born, N.Bohr, 1st row: I.Langmuir, M.Planck, Mrs.Curie, H.A.Lorentz, A. Einstein, P.Langevin, C.E.Guye, C.TR.Wilson, O.W.Richardson.

Photo by: Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Nobel-Prize-winning Soviet physicist Lev Landau used a scale to rank the best physicists of the 20th century.
  • The physicist based it on their level of contribution to science.
  • The scale was logarithmic, with each level being 10 times more valuable.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Universe works like a cosmological neural network, argues new paper

    Controversial physics theory says reality around us behaves like a computer neural network.

    Synapses in space.

    Credit: sakkmesterke
    Surprising Science
    • Physicist proposes that the universe behaves like an artificial neural network.
    • The scientist's new paper seeks to reconcile classical physics and quantum mechanics.
    • The theory claims that natural selection produces both atoms and "observers".
    Keep reading Show less
    Scroll down to load more…
    Quantcast