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Russia threatens to destroy U.S. GPS satellites

During a telecast on Russia TV, the television host claimed that Russia could destroy the entire American GPS satellite constellation, using its anti-satellite missile technology, should the U.S. or NATO “cross our red line.”

The Kremlin warned it could blow up 32 GPS satellites with its new anti-satellite technology, ASAT, which it tested Nov. 15 on a retired Soviet Tselina-D satellite, according to numerous news reports.

Russia then claimed on state television that its new ASAT missiles could obliterate NATO satellites and “blind all their missiles, planes and ships, not to mention the ground forces,” said Russian Channel One TV host Dmitry Kiselyov, rendering the West’s GPS-guided missiles useless. “It means that if NATO crosses our red line, it risks losing all 32 of its GPS satellites at once.”

The article claims “numerous news reports”, but it appears they all boil down to Kiselyov’s pronouncements on this one broadcast.

No matter. The Putin government is testing the waters, and showing that it is ready and willing to escalate tensions. It apparently thinks the Biden administration is too weak to respond. And who can disagree?

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  • David Eastman

    Given the amount of civilian infrastructure that relies on GPS, I have to think Russia would have to be in a “we’ve got nothing to lose” mode before pulling that particular trigger. But who knows, the international community as a whole has shown that there is no “red line” that crossing will earn more than a “you’re a bad person, we don’t like you” note.

  • geoffc

    So that means they have at 32 interceptors built and ready to go. That seems unlikely. They have not been able to build boosters at that rate in decades. They can barely build the few Soyuz boosters a year they currently build.

    Second they need to reach the GPS Orbit, which is 18,000KM not the 500KM they hit, which is a VERY different task. Best of luck with that! Doable, just a lot harder.

    And as noted, pretty much kicks off WW3 if they do it. So just a Russian mouthing off. (Sound like my father in law… You get used to it pretty quickly)>

  • Col Beausabre

    Random thoughts

    1) “Given the amount of civilian infrastructure that relies on GPS”

    Airliners, with thousands on board, for example. Cruise ships packed with more thousands of people. Container ships with millions of dollars aboard. You want to get the world’s elites riled, endanger their lives, wealth and comfortable lifestyle. You can forget Uber, Lyft, shoot, your pizza driver depends on GPS

    2) “I have to think Russia would have to be in a “we’ve got nothing to lose””

    “And as noted, pretty much kicks off WW3 if they do it”

    I think that at that point, the Russians have decided to go war, if the shooting hasn’t already started

    3) All the more reason to launch a fleet of GPS minisats Redundancy, Baby, Redundancy

    4) The US Naval Academy stopped teaching celestial navigation a generation. Hate to interrupt the lectures on critical race theory, but your job is to fight and win wars. And speaking as an old career military officer, knowing where you are and how to get to where you need to go is pretty basic (Inertial navigation systems drift with time and need to be updated via star shots and/or GPS, LORAN and SHORAN are dead, TACAN dates back to the Fifties, is not secure and is on the way out). As a commander, I insisted my officers and NCO’s remain proficient with map and compass. I used to collect the GPS sets we had in the middle of an exercise and say “the enemy has taken out/jammed/is meconning (spoofing) GPS. We need go back to the old ways” Kept em on their toes

  • John

    Yeah, well if they blast GPS then we get to nuke GLONASS and let’s do Galileo for good measure.

    I know a guy who can barely get to work without GPS. He’d be screwed.

    They might not have to physically destroy the hardware. Here’s an article claiming that our satellites are routinely disabled with ‘reversible’ attacks:

    I think it’d be more interesting if tensions started rising, and suddenly the GPS signals temporarily go haywire courtesy of a near peer competitor.

  • Mike Borgelt

    You’d need to take out the Chinese Beidou system, south of Japan the 4 QZSS sats and in the Indian Ocean region the IRNSS sats. Most of the slightly better GNSS chips support all 4 major constellations and QZSS and IRNSS simultaneously. QZSS and IRNSS are GPS compatible.

  • Jeff Wright

    I thought we captured a German metal hull sailing ship some of our sailors trained on?

  • Max

    Is it a bluff? Russians are putting their money where their mouth is.

    I would also points out that it would not take very many nuclear blasts/ EMP pulse in the ionosphere to completely short out/ blind even the hardened satellites.
    I believe Russia is preparing to take back the Ukraine, this posturing is a threat of what would happen if we interfere with their plans.

  • “There is nothing more dangerous than a 2md Lieutenant with a map and compass.”

  • John observed: “I think it’d be more interesting if tensions started rising, and suddenly the GPS signals temporarily go haywire courtesy of a near peer competitor.”

    I am rapidly losing my interest in ‘interesting times’.

  • Max

    I would also remind people that America has a policy of “absorbing a first strike”. Should something happen in space or on military targets, there will be no retaliation. The grid would be down in such a case, all communications will be down, we will be blind as well.

    Russia and China maybe reacting to this;

    “Details about the U.S. military’s own so-called “counter-space” capabilities, on the other hand, are extremely limited, as its ability to conduct what it has termed “orbital warfare.” To date, the only publicly acknowledged offensive counter-space weapon it has is a variant of the Counter Communications System (CCS). At present, Space Force operates the Block 10.2 version of the CCS, but a Block 10.3 type is now in development that is reportedly “more modular and scalable,” according to Janes. Official budget documents released last year revealed that the Block 10.3 system is one that had previously only been identified by the nickname Meadowlands”

    There are constant attacks that we are unaware of,

    The attacks are not only in space;

    “Undersea sensors off the coast of northern Norway that are able to collect data about passing submarines, among other things, have been knocked out”
    “mission in September attempted to trace the cable running from Node 2 with Node 3, only to find that this platform also had been moved, its components damaged, and its cable was missing.”
    “It’s also unclear what has happened to the missing cable, around 9.5 tons in all, which has not been recovered”

    “We are now seeing Russian underwater activity in the vicinity of undersea cables that I don’t believe we have ever seen,” U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Andrew Lennon, then serving as NATO’s top submarine officer, told The Washington Post in December 2017. “Russia is clearly taking an interest in NATO and NATO nations’ undersea infrastructure.

    There are preparations for three wars, Russia Ukraine, China Taiwan, Israel and Iran. Whether the US wants to or not, we do not have the capabilities to intervene in all three at once… This administration has shown favoritism to China as we just fueled their Navy ships with our strategic oil reserve. We have essentially given them Taiwan.

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