Space-Based Weapons: Long-Term Strategic Implications and Alternatives   [open pdf - 137KB]

"The 'U.S. Air Force Transformation Flight Plan' released in November 2003 reinvigorated the debate on the issue of space weaponization. Taking a 'snapshot in time' of that service's ongoing and future transformation efforts, the 'Transformation Flight Plan' lays out current programs, advanced concept technology demonstrations, and 'future system concepts.' Many of the systems described can be interpreted as a significant move by the United States toward weaponization of space. As Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.) pointed out during a recent hearing of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, 'putting weapons either offensive or defensive into space is a major policy decision.' This decision will require thorough discussion and analysis to ensure that American system deployments not only provide the short-term benefits promised by service advocates but contribute to increased security in the long term. This article addresses one component of the debate on whether or not to weaponize space. Specifically, it looks at whether a decision to base weapons in space would produce a net, long-term increase in relative military capability for the United States or serve to reduce its current military dominance. It defines 'space-based weapon' as a system placed in orbit or deep space that is designed 'for destroying, damaging, rendering inoperable, or changing the flight trajectory of space objects, or for damaging objects in the atmosphere or on the ground.'"

2005 Naval War College Review. Posted here with permission. Documents are for personal use only and not for commercial profit.
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Naval War College Review: http://www.usnwc.edu/Publications/Naval-War-College-Review.aspx
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Naval War College Review (Spring 2005), v. 58 no. 2, p. 45-68
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