WASHINGTON, April 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. government has a several dozen satellites circling the globe. While many bolster scientific research, several are the domain of the U.S. military -- powering communication networks and offering reconnaissance information.
In an interview broadcast on CBS's "60 Minutes" over the weekend, General John Hyten, the head of Air Force Space Command -- the branch of the Air Force tasked with launching and protecting U.S. space satellites -- said China may soon perfect the technology to attack or dismantle satellite systems.
An attack on satellites that provide the U.S. military with a strategic advantage on the battlefield and in the sea, Hyten said, would undermine American security.
While Hyten insisted that he and America's military leaders are working to protect its satellites, he acknowledged the great difficulty of such a task. With so many variables, a fool-proof defense system is nearly impossible.
"It depends on the satellite, it depends on the mission, it depends on when it was built, it depends on how old it is," Hyten said.
Space security experts believe Russia is developing satellite weapon technology similar to that of China. Both countries have launched satellites unannounced in recent months. Russia's most recent anonymous satellite was witnessed cozying up next to the rocket stage that had launched it. Experts suggested such technology could allow it to link up with other satellites for repairs -- or sabotage.
Of course, China and Russia are likely expressing the same fears over U.S. capabilities. Most experts agree the U.S. is likely developing the same kind of strong-armed satellites.