Russia and China are building capabilities to cripple US operations in space, Gen. John Hyten, the nominee to lead US Strategic Command, told lawmakers Tuesday. “We have an amazing force structure in space, and both the Chinese and the Russians in particular have been watching those capabilities be employed on the battlefield for the last 20 years,” Hyten said during his nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “And in response to that, they’re building counter space capabilities to deny us those capabilities in conflict.” Hyten, who currently leads Air Force Space Command, said the United States is not building similar capabilities, but needs to work faster on building the counter-capabilities that will protect US assets in space. “We’re are moving much slower in certain areas than our adversaries,” he said. “We need our industry and our acquisition process to move faster.” (See also: Making Space More Military from the August issue of Air Force Magazine.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.