U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein has stated that he believes space wars could begin in only a “matter of years.”
Speaking at the Air Force Association’s 34th annual Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition in Orlando, Florida, Friday, Goldfein argued the U.S. will likely find itself “fighting from space” as armed conflict further extends into the new domain.
“I believe we’re going to be fighting from space in a matter of years,” Goldfein said. “And we are the service that must lead joint war fighting in this new contested domain. This is what the nation demands.”
Goldfein further called on the Air Force to “embrace space superiority” as rivals such as China and Russia likewise focus on expanding their military reach.
“[It’s] time for us as a service, regardless of specialty badge, to embrace space superiority with the same passion and sense of ownership as we apply to air superiority today,” Goldfein said.
Analysts believe the bold remarks are in part in response to comments from Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Mike Rogers, who proposed last year creating a “Space Corps” to lead advances into the new theater.
Although the idea has since been shelved, the proposal, or any other futures ones like it, would ensure the Air Force does not lead any potential fight in space.
The Air Force has also requested $8.5 billion for space-related programs in the 2019 budget.
“I look forward to discussing how we can leverage new technology and new ways of networking multi-domain sensors and resilient communications to bring more lethality to the fight,” Goldfein added.
While many fears concerning war in space were left behind in the Cold War era, a renewed sense of urgency has arisen in light of new technological developments.
In 2007, China successfully tested an anti-satellite missile and has since conducted eight more. The U.S. and Russia are also believed to possess similar capabilities.
And though the 1967 Outer Space Treaty banned the use of nuclear weapons in space, conventional weapons and electronic warfare fair game. Nation state attacks have already resulted in GPS signals being blocked, satellites being hacked and unmanned aircraft being disabled mid-flight.