by David Crane
david at defensereview.com
By now, everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock in the middle of the Sahara desert (or similar-type isolated location) has heard about China’s supposedly successful anti-satellite shoot-to-kill missile test that has the West, including the U.S., "up in arms" (excuse the pun) about the safety of our military and civilian communications and GPS satellites. It’s a disturbing thought for us here in the U.S. that China (and Russia, too, most likely) can take out our strategic (i.e. military) and civilian satellites at they’re whim. That being said, instead of crying about getting a little sand kicked in our face, it’s our responsibility to figure out a solution to the problem, and figure out how to fight the bully. We obviously need a viable satellite defense solution, and right quick.
It’s a two-fold problem. The first aspect, China potentially being able to target and destroy our satellites one-by-one with pinpoint precision is disturbing enough. However, there’s also the matter of all that space debris caused by the impact, which can threaten all the other satellites whizzing around the planet. We just can’t have that. So, what are we going to do about?
Well, one solution, of course, would be a…
missile-based (hit-to-kill) or, better yet, laser-based weapon system that can blast the Chinese missiles out of the air before they even get out of earth’s atmosphere and enter space. If we can’t do that, we would at least want to be able to target and kill the warhead once it enters space. But, again, the latter scenario would create more dangerous space debris.
Fortunately, there’s a secondary solution: a passive defense system (or more specifically, stealth system) that cloaks our satellites’ radar and optical signatures from the Chinese and Russians (and everyone else). As it happens, Advanced American Enterprises (AAE), a company DefenseReview has been writing about for some time now, believes that its optical cloaking technology (a.k.a. invisibility cloak, a.k.a. adaptive camouflage, a.k.a. electro-optical camouflage a.k.a. active camouflage a.k.a. chameleonic camouflage) may be able to assist in protecting U.S. military satellites from enemy ballistic missile and laser threats, provided that it’s combined with anti-radar stealth technology. We’re talking about satellite stealth, here (or stealth satellites, however you want to look at it).
AAE has two separate technologies: The first is their “invisibility stealth” tech (AAE actually calls this product “Visibility-Stealth”.), which works in the visible light spectrum. The second is their IR/NV-Stealth tech, which works in both the thermal/infrared (IR) spectrum and night vision (NV) (a.k.a. near-infrared) spectrum simultaneously. Together, AAE believes it’s possible that the two technologies could virtually completely mask a satellite’s visual signature. However, the AAE optical stealth tech, by itself, won’t mask the satellite’s radar signature, which is crucial.
So, how do you mask the satellite’s radar signature? Well, the AAE Stealth Technology System (STS) tech (AAE’s Visibility-Stealth and IR/NV-Stealth products) can be applied to fabric. So, theoretically, you could apply the AAE optical camouflage to radar absorbent fabric (made from radar absorbent material). You could then use this STS-treated radar-absorbent fabric to create a kind of Stealth cocoon around the satellite, thus making a stealthy satellite (a.k.a. stealth satellite). Ideally, the cocoon should be angulated (i.e. shaped) in such a way that further enhances its anti-radar stealth effect. U.S. Air Force experience with anti-radar stealth tech on current fighter and bomber aircraft would likely come in handy, here.
Again, the above paragraph outlines a theoretical space satellite defense/satellite stealth solution that relies solely on anti-radar stealth and invisibility stealth (visible light spectrum, thermal/IR (infrared), and night vision (NV) spectrum). Defense Review would, of course, also want to combine the proposed passive sytems with active satellite defense systems like hit-to-kill ballistic systems (land, sea, airborne, and space-launched hit-to-kill ballistic missiles, for example) and anti-missile lasers (most likely the optimal choice, once they’re developed enough).
When we called AAE about the relevance of their STS tech for satellite defense applications, Dr. Zeineh, STS’ inventor/developer, informed us that AAE has not tested either of the aforementioned optical camouflage / stealth technologies involved (Visibility-Stealth or IR/NV-Stealth) against radar, nor have they tested their applicability to space satellites, specifically (or anything else in space, for that matter). When we asked Dr. Zeineh point blank whether or not AAE’s technology would work on military satellites in space, he told us point blank that he doesn’t know. He simply can’t be sure until it’s tested.
So, right now, the idea of applying the AAE STS adaptive camouflage tech to an anti-radar stealth fabric shroud / cocoon encasing U.S. military communications satellites (and GPS satellites) is purely theoretical. However, we believe the goals are realistic, considering that all the technolgies discussed already exist and should be functional in space (unless there’s something we’re missing). DefenseReview’s proposed solution should be viable, provided the shrouded satellite can still perform it’s necessary function(s) unhindered. The stealth shroud must be designed in such a way that while it’s absorbing and/or deflecting enemy radar and thwarting enemy optical surveillance, it’s not simultaneously interfering with the satellite’s data transmission and reception capabilities. Cost-effective and maintainable long-term space satellite defense–without any functional deleterious or hindering effects–is the goal.
AAE Document on Satellite Defense Tech:
Right-Click here and then click on “Save Link As” (Mozilla Firefox) or “Save Target As” (Microsoft Internet Explorer) to download and view an AAE document that describes and demonstrates in pictures how the AAE Optical Camouflage technology a.k.a. visual cloaking tech could potentially assist in cloaking U.S. military satellites against enemy ballistic threats)
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