Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said Moscow and Beijing were engaged in “dubious” activities such as stealing satellites from “near” others, as well as “more dangerous activities” that could destroy other satellites on a daily basis.
He also said they were gathering intelligence and that future conflicts would be “won or lost in space.”
The “reckless” behavior of the two nations has been observed “several times a year,” Sir Mike said.
During the past year, Russia had deployed a combination of satellites that “we would describe as having the characteristic of a weapon and they practiced a maneuver, which we would say, could only be done to deliberately destroy another satellite. “.
Meanwhile, China has continued to “develop anti-satellite technology, and that’s it, from missiles that directly target satellites, to laser-glare weapons, electronic jamming to physical ramming of other satellites.” .
He added that China has trained against “its own redundant satellites”, and as such, “has demonstrated its ability to do so.”
He warned: “A future conflict may not start in space, but I have no doubt that it will come to space very quickly, and it could well be won or lost in space.
“If we don’t think about it and prepare for it today, then we won’t be ready when the time comes. “
General Sir Patrick Sanders, head of the British Strategic Command, underlined the disruptive implications that a space war would have for civilians and soldiers.
He said the satellites not only provide “critical capabilities” to the military, but they allow the technology “that we all know and recognize on our cellphones to the technology that allows us to navigate the Carrier Strike Group. in the whole world “.
The two leaders were speaking to the Telegraph during the launch of Space Command at RAF High Wycombe, a new joint force that will be made up of the RAF, British Army, Royal Navy and the civil service.
When at full operational capacity, it will assume command and control of all British defense space capabilities, including the Space Operations Center, RAF Fylingdales in North Yorkshire and Skynet, communications satellites. military.
The unit, which grew out of the £ 1.4bn investment pledged for space over the next decade in last year’s Defense Command document, will focus on sharing d information on the development of threats in the arena.
This will include the use of ground and space radar, as well as gathering information “from other like-minded allies”.
Jeremy Quin, Defense Procurement Minister, said investment in space was “vital” in order to “maintain a decisive advantage in this rapidly evolving operational arena”.
Sir Patrick added that the unit would aim to have a network of satellites that “can move data seamlessly”, as well as collect “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance from space”.
He added, “These are the kinds of capacity areas that we are looking at. The starting point is to understand what’s going on up there and get the basics right.
Vice Air Marshal Paul Godfrey, Commander of UK Space Command, added: “The space domain is vital, not only for enabling military operations across the globe, but in the daily lives of everyone across the country. . “
It came as the United States’ second-highest-ranking military commander said British soldiers would have access to American classified data as part of the Pentagon’s plans to revolutionize the way it fights in any future war. with China.
General John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Allied soldiers could use their personal biometrics to log into a US “battle cloud” system during a conflict.
The move comes after a hypothetical classified war game with China “failed miserably” when America was crushed after America’s information systems were knocked out at the start of the battle.
The United States aims to have the overhaul in place by 2030.