Russia is using Space Weapons on ISIS
Russia’s two-month-old military intervention in Syria on behalf of the embattled regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has involved dramatic, and highly visible, strikes by high-tech jet fighters, lumbering heavy bombers, powerful ground-based artillery, and even ships and submarines launching missiles over long distances.
Less visible but no less impressive has been Russia’s mobilization in Earth’s orbit. Moscow claimed it has positioned 10 satellites—representing more than 10 percent of Russia’s space arsenal—over Syria to map terrain, spot targets and gather other intelligence, and relay radio signals between far-flung ground, air, and sea forces.
Loathe to miss out on an opportunity to celebrate its own military exploits, the Kremlin began detailing its space deployment in mid-November, first in official statements and subsequently through state-owned media outlets.
And in early December, the Russian government circulated imagery from its satellites in an effort to prove that Turkey—one of Moscow’s rivals in Syria—is helping self-appointed Islamic State terrorists export oil.
“Russia now fields one of the largest and most effective satellite groups in the world, and it has reached a peak of activity amid the military operations in Syria,” crowed Russia Beyond the Headlines, a government-owned propaganda website.