Recent Space Force Training Exercise Included 'Live Fire' Jamming of Actual Satellites

The target satellites used in the "Dark Skies" exercise were commercial units leased from private companies.

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An unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif., Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022.
The Space Force launched an unarmed ballistic missile during an operational test on September 7.
Photo: Ryan Quijas (AP)

The United States Space Force is gearing up for hostile skies, training its Guardians this week on the use of satellite jammers to shut down enemy communications.

Known as “Black Skies,” the satellite jamming exercise is the first in a series of training exercises designed to equip the U.S. Space Force with electronic warfare tactics, according to Breaking Defense. The Black Skies training transpired earlier this week, with a focus on real-world “live fire” satellite jamming.

Satellite jamming is an electronic, non-kinetic anti-satellite attack that jams signals and communications traveling to and from a satellite in orbit. The Space Force’s satellite jamming exercise included both live fire and “constructive training,” and it included commercial satellites leased from private companies to serve as the training targets, Breaking Defense reported.

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Space Force is steadily developing its satellite jamming capability, noting that its potential adversaries, such as China and Russia, already have this capability “in spades,” Shawn Bratton, commander of Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM), told Breaking Defense. Russian forces have employed satellite jamming tactics for the invasion of Ukraine, targeting GPS satellite signals from ground stations to distort navigation and mapping, according to Space Force.

Space Force is gaining ground as the sixth branch of the U.S. military, with the U.S. Army recently transferring its satellite ground stations to the Space Force. As the U.S. looks to rely more on orbital satellites for military operations, it’s no wonder it’s trying to protect its assets in space. The recent training exercise suggests we’re approaching a dystopian era for spacefaring nations wanting to use Earth orbit as a new battlefield, or potentially fight over the valuable off-world resources offered by the cosmos.

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Following the Black Skies exercise, the U.S. Space Force will move on to “Red Skies” to train its guardians in orbital warfare, followed by “Blue Skies,” which will focus on cyber warfare. Whatever it is that may be threatening the skies above, the Space Force clearly wants to put up arms to fight it.

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