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Satellites at war: A week of U.S.-Iran tensions sum up military reliance on space

LeGenD

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It’s an often repeated truth that the United States’ armed forces are greatly dependent on space-based assets for almost every facet of military operations.

The U.S. military drone strikes that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani on Jan. 3 and Iran’s retaliatory ballistic missile attack on U.S. bases in Iraq a few days later were a stark illustration of the critical role of satellites.

Satellites in space serve as global eyes, ears, networks, and timekeepers for U.S. forces. The U.S. Air Force drones that fired the missiles and the weapons themselves were guided by GPS satellites. The post-strike assessment of damage and casualties was enabled by remote sensing satellites. When Iran responded with a barrage of short-range missiles aimed at U.S. installations in Iraq, U.S. early warning spacecraft that detect the heat signature generated by a missile launch alerted operators on the ground.

Communications satellites — a mix of U.S. government-owned and commercial assets — allow forces to talk, pass data and execute command and control. Weather satellites provide detailed meteorological information so commanders can gauge the impact of weather on operations.

U.S. military operations in the Middle East are overseen by U.S. Central Command, based in Tampa, Florida. But the responsibility to ensure that satellites are ready and able to provide services to U.S. forces falls on U.S. Space Command, the military’s newest combatant command currently headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.

“Our space assets are fully integrated and synchronized with all joint operations, to include U.S. Central Command, as space capabilities are crucial to success on the battlefield. U.S. Space Command spokesman Col. David Westover said in a statement to SpaceNews.

“U.S. Space Command supports all global missions by providing space effects directly to our warfighters,” he said. The command operates missile warning and detection capabilities “to protect the nation, our deployed personnel and allied forces,” said Westover.

It’s worth looking back at how satellites became such key assets to the military. A report by the RAND Corp. notes that the Eisenhower administration put satellites in orbit in response to the need for a capability to monitor military developments in the Soviet Union, particularly nuclear forces. For the first two decades of the Space Age, the vast majority of satellites, both American and Soviet, were devoted to strategic missions — reconnaissance, surveillance, communications, and environmental monitoring.

But in the closing decades of the Cold War, the United States started using space-based services to support conventional military operations. Over time, space became a critical linchpin, a trend that became evident during the 1991 Persian Gulf War when national strategic assets were tasked to support conventional combat operations on a large scale.

“Reconnaissance satellites were re-tasked from strategic missions, and their products were made more widely available to theater commanders and their staffs,” the RAND report says. “Data from strategic surveillance satellites were brought to bear to provide warning of Scud missile attacks and support coalition efforts to hunt down and destroy the launchers.”

Military communications satellites, originally designed to support command and control of nuclear forces, were moved and reconfigured to provide bandwidth to conventional combat units. And when that capacity was fully subscribed, the Department of Defense leased channels on commercial satellites.

“The Persian Gulf War was a threshold event in U.S. military space operations,” the report says. “Having discovered the vast potential of space to support conventional military operations in future conflicts, the U.S. defense community began concerted efforts to modify existing space systems and develop new ones to support tactical users. In the years that followed, a wide array of innovative technologies was developed employing data from space-based assets.”

After GPS achieved full operational capability in 1995 with 24 satellites on orbit, a whole new class of precision weapons emerged, from gravity bombs to cruise missiles, using GPS data to guide them to their targets. In addition, military vehicles on land, in the air and at sea began using GPS systems for navigation.

LINK: https://spacenews.com/satellites-at...n-tensions-sum-up-military-reliance-on-space/

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Straight from the horse's mouth finally. :agree:

These are some of the realities which I have alluded to in my numerous responses to good Iranian members over the course of years. :)

NOTE: This is "general knowledge" thread - please do not derail.
 

Philosopher

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Generally speaking, these space based assets do play important roles but their utility in war against developing powers and near peer adversaries is limited by their vulnerabilities. In a major conflict, one of the first systems to be targeted will be these space based assets. Thus it would be wise not to become dependant on these systems.

Regarding the authors comment on Iran's attack on US airbase, Just to clarify, the Americans were warned by the Iraqis hours before the attack on their airbase, this was the main reason they had 100's of traumatic brain injuries instead of 100's of deaths. Absence of this warning by the Iraqis, whatever satellite warning they claim (take it with a grain of salt) to have gotten would not have done much given the limited time they would have had to take precautions.
 

dbc

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Generally speaking, these space based assets do play important roles but their utility in war against developing powers and near peer adversaries is limited by their vulnerabilities. In a major conflict, one of the first systems to be targeted will be these space based assets. Thus it would be wise not to become dependant on these systems.

Regarding the authors comment on Iran's attack on US airbase, Just to clarify, the Americans were warned by the Iraqis hours before the attack on their airbase, this was the main reason they had 100's of traumatic brain injuries instead of 100's of deaths. Absence of this warning by the Iraqis, whatever satellite warning they claim (take it with a grain of salt) to have gotten would not have done much given the limited time they would have had to take precautions.

Typical nonsense, one has come to expect from you. The US early warning system such as MIDAS (1958) could detect a ballistic missile launch from anywhere in the world in the 1960's.
MIDAS was replaced by Advanced Warning System (AWS), Boost Surveillance and Tracking System (BSTS), the Follow-On Early Warning System (FEWS), and Alert, Locate, and Report Missiles (ALARM) ..SIBS....
 

Philosopher

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Typical nonsense, one has come to expect from you. The US early warning system such as MIDAS (1958) could detect a ballistic missile launch from anywhere in the world in the 1960's.
MIDAS was replaced by Advanced Warning System (AWS), Boost Surveillance and Tracking System (BSTS), the Follow-On Early Warning System (FEWS), and Alert, Locate, and Report Missiles (ALARM) ..SIBS....

I suggest you calm yourself down. Even assuming the Americans managed to detect the launch, my above comment still stands.
 

dbc

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I suggest you calm yourself down. Even assuming the Americans managed to detect the launch, my above comment still stands.

Your comment is laughably uninformed. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together would be preparing for an Iranian response to the Soleimani assassination,
..and anyone with a fourth brain cell would anticipate a missile attack on a US base in Iraq.
...al eyes and ears were wide open, F-35s were routinely sortieing out of Al Dafra 24/7 post Soleimani's death to precisely track and provide real time updates and predict impact points.
 

Philosopher

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Your comment is laughably uninformed. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together would be preparing for an Iranian response to the Soleimani assassination,
..and anyone with a fourth brain cell would anticipate a missile attack on a US base in Iraq.
...al eyes and ears were wide open, F-35s were routinely sortieing out of Al Dafra 24/7 post Soleimani's death to precisely track and provide real time updates and predict impact points.

My comment was based on the fact that the Iraqis warned the Americans regarding the specific target hours before it occurred. You're just replying for the sake of replying and not actually adding anything to the discussion. Refrain from polluting the thread.
 

dbc

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My comment was based on the fact that the Iraqis warned the Americans regarding the specific target hours before it occurred. You're just replying for the sake of replying and not actually adding anything to the discussion. Refrain from polluting the thread.

Refrain from polluting...good one... :lol:

So the Iraqi PM said they received simultaneous warning from both the US and Iran.
While the US personnel hunkered down (moved to bunkers) eight hours prior to the Iraqi warning...how? Tarot cards? ouija board?

The Iraqi prime minister’s office said they had received a verbal message from the Iranians shortly after midnight saying that their “response to the assassination of the martyr Qassem Soleimani had begun or would start shortly”
and would be limited to US military stationed in Iraq. At the same time, they were informed by the Americans that strikes had begun against US forces at various locations in the country.

 

Hack-Hook

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When Iran responded with a barrage of short-range missiles aimed at U.S. installations in Iraq, U.S. early warning spacecraft that detect the heat signature generated by a missile launch alerted operators on the ground.
a question , what did those operators actually managed to do?
 

Philosopher

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Refrain from polluting...good one... :lol:

So the Iraqi PM said they received simultaneous warning from both the US and Iran.
While the US personnel hunkered down (moved to bunkers) eight hours prior to the Iraqi warning...how? Tarot cards? ouija board?

The Iraqi prime minister’s office said they had received a verbal message from the Iranians shortly after midnight saying that their “response to the assassination of the martyr Qassem Soleimani had begun or would start shortly”
and would be limited to US military stationed in Iraq. At the same time, they were informed by the Americans that strikes had begun against US forces at various locations in the country.


I suggest you go do some basic research into the topic.

US troops in Iraq got warning hours before Iranian attack
American troops were informed of an impending missile barrage hours before their air base in Iraq was struck by Iran, U.S. military officials said Monday


This "hours before" warning to the Iraqis has also been confirmed by Iranian generals, and obviously this was passed to the Americans.

You're just wasting my time and yes, polluting the thread by your non-replies.
 

Hack-Hook

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The Iraqi prime minister’s office said they had received a verbal message from the Iranians shortly after midnight saying that their “response to the assassination of the martyr Qassem Soleimani had begun or would start shortly”
and would be limited to US military stationed in Iraq. At the same time, they were informed by the Americans that strikes had begun against US forces at various locations in the country.
well hope you are aware the missiles launched at 2 after midnight so yes if USA saw the missile launch at the midnight, they certainly had crystal ball and tarot cards
 

dbc

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well hope you are aware the missiles launched at 2 after midnight so yes if USA saw the missile launch at the midnight, they certainly had crystal ball and tarot cards

funny.. please work on you reading and comprehension skills ... the Iraqi prime ministers office said "shortly after midnight"
 

Hack-Hook

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funny.. please work on you reading and comprehension skills ... the Iraqi prime ministers office said "shortly after midnight"
and two hours is not shortly as far as me and 7 billion other people is concerned.
do you knew what it remind me of , its like when we told IAEA we are building Fordoo enrichment facility and the americans come out and told that they were aware of it for 6 month but didn't told the world, IAEA and their closest allies about it .
 

LeGenD

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Guys,

American armed forces are able to receive valuable INTEL through multiple channels which are typically distinguished as HUMINT, GEOINT, MASINT, OSINT, SIGINT, TECHINT, and CYBINT respectively. Other modern armies also tick some of these boxes in practice if not each box although capabilities vary across all levels.

INTEL coming from any channel is helpful and may help shape course of events on the ground where it matters the most, to help save lives and/or to enable countermeasures and/or to facilitate military operations.

Satellite communications work independently from HUMINT and are helpful in their own right; HUMINT is not a substitute for these in practice.

a question , what did those operators actually managed to do?
They alert American military assets to incoming ballistic missiles via C2BMC.
 

Hack-Hook

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Guys,

American armed forces are able to receive valuable INTEL through multiple channels which are typically distinguished as HUMINT, GEOINT, MASINT, OSINT, SIGINT, TECHINT, and CYBINT respectively. Other modern armies also tick some of these boxes in practice if not each box although capabilities vary across all levels.

INTEL coming from any channel is helpful and may help shape course of events on the ground where it matters the most, to help save lives and/or to enable countermeasures and/or to facilitate military operations.

Satellite communications work independently from HUMINT and are helpful in their own right; HUMINT is not a substitute for these in practice.


They alert American military assets to incoming ballistic missiles via C2BMC.
How much it take for the missiles to reach Ain-Al-Asad from iran iraq border and how much it take for them to give the warning to the soldiers and how long it take for them to go to the shelters. Let not include the human delays and the time it take for humans to decide what to do in between
 

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