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UK to launch new military space command

Will World War III be fought in space? A new space command, a national cyber force and an artificial intelligence agency will be part of Britain’s defence transformation programme. A satellite silently explodes in the vacuumA space entirely empty of matter. of space. The kinetic kill vehicle that has just smashed into it at 18,000mph has shattered into a million metal fragments. Their debris mingles in earth's orbit and, somewhere below, lights start to flicker out. Phones and computers go dead. This vision of the future of war is one that the UK government has just decided to invest in. Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a 16.5bn increase in defence funding over the next four years. This is good news for arms companies, including those who make up the UK's "Dragonfire" consortiumA group of people. It derives from two Latin words meaning share and destiny., the group currently tasked with making laser cannons a reality for British forces. That dragon could soon breathe its fire in outer space, if the UK is serious about achieving the ultimate strategic high ground. Countries looking for military advantage will soon require technology for destroying or jamming communications satellites, as well as for defending them. France has already announced plans to equip its next generation of military satellites with lasers to prevent attacks. It joins a select group of countries preparing for space combat, including Iran, North Korea, Russia, India and the USA. In 2018, the USA created a separate branch of the military covering extra-terrestrial conflict, called the "Space Force". Though some mocked President Trump for the decision, other countries, it seems, are following his lead. This year, NATO, the transatlantic military alliance, declared space to be an "operational domain", meaning a legitimate theatre of war. Glimpses of what this theatre might look like are already available to polemologists. In 2007, China launched a kinetic kill vehicle to destroy one of its own satellites in low earth orbit, and India performed a similar test in 2019. This July, Russia tested an anti-satellite projectile fired from a satellite which had itself been launched from another satellite. The US have likened it to a futuristic matryoshka. The Russian probe was allegedly stalking an American military communications satellite before US officials reprimanded the Russians and it retreated. Perhaps, some suggest, space could be not just a front in any future world war, but where it starts. While no territoryLand that belongs to a state. can be claimed in outer space, interfering with one another's satellites may serve as a way of testing diplomatic boundaries - or it may set the world up for collisions. Russia backed away this time, but any incident that starts with satellites crashing could shake the globe. So, will World War III be fought in space? Space race The future is here, say some. In one sense, wars are already fought in space. Without the communications satellites currently orbiting the earth, most modern military operations would grind to a halt. It is only logical that, as space comes to be increasingly essential to war, war will come to space. The world's major powers would not be investing in this front if they did not think conflict likely. This is science fiction, say others. Just like flying cars and jetpacks, space combat has captured the imagination without establishing a beachhead in reality. Weapons of mass destruction are banned in space and no missile from earth can reach a satellite in a geostationary orbit. While electronic communication is crucial to modern warfare, the real front for that war is online, not in space. KeywordsVacuum - A space entirely empty of matter.

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