Space Force tests small satellite jammer to protect against ‘space-enabled’ attacks

Space Training and Readiness Command recently conducted a test of the Remote Modular Terminal (RMT), a new system for the Space Rapid Capabilities Office. (Image credit: U.S. Space Force photo by Isaac Blancas)

By Brett Tingley,
Published by Space.com, 24 April 2024

Such a system could disrupt adversary satellites overhead that might be surveilling or targeting U.S. forces on the ground.

The U.S. Space Force is testing a new ground-based satellite jamming weapon to help keep U.S. military personnel safe from potential “space-enabled” attacks.

The tests were conducted by Space Training and Readiness Command, or STARCOM, which is responsible for educating and training U.S. Space Force personnel. The satellite jammer is known as the Remote Modular Terminal (RMT) and, like other jammers, is designed to deny, degrade, or disrupt communications with satellites overhead, typically through overloading specific portions of the electromagnetic spectrum with interference.

The RMT is “small form-factor system designed to be fielded in large numbers at low-cost and operated remotely” according to Space Force statement. Specifically, the RMT will “unlock the scale to provide counterspace electronic warfare capability to all of the new Space Force components globally,” Lt. Col. Gerrit Dalman said in the statement, meaning it can be used from virtually anywhere to deny adversaries the use of satellites orbiting overhead.

Details about the test are scarce, but Space Force’s statement explains that two RMT units were installed at separate locations and controlled by a third. The jammer was evaluated according to metrics such as “system latency” and “target engagement accuracy,” as well as for how secure its communications were.

Guardians and an Airman during a test of the Space Force’s Remote Modular Terminal (RMT) in Colorado Springs, Colo., April 4, 2024.  (Image credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Charles Rivezzo)

The need for new space-based and counterspace technologies has been stressed by Space Force leadership in recent months. 

At the Space Foundation’s annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs in April 2024, Chief of Space Operations for the U.S. Space Force Gen. B. Chance Saltzman said the service “must harness the benefits of technological innovation and emerging capabilities if we’re going to be able to out-compete our competitors, or Space Force will lose, the Joint Force will lose and the U.S. will lose.”

The RMT builds on that need for new technologies by providing a satellite jamming system that can be deployed quickly and almost from anywhere. It was developed by the Space Rapid Capabilities Office, a small and unique office tasked with “rapidly delivering first-of-their-kind operational space capabilities” to the U.S. military.

According to a slide deck the Space Rapid Capabilities Office presented to industry in October 2023, these jammers are “small transportable systems that can be emplaced in both garrison and austere environments,” meaning they can be used whether infrastructure is present or not.

Ultimately, the system could be presumably deployed and operated in a battlefield-type scenario, disabling or disrupting links to adversary satellites overhead that might be surveilling or targeting U.S. forces on the ground.

See: Original Article