Military use of space in a 10-20 years perspective


  • Christer Andersson
  • Sandra Lindström

Publish date: 2009-12-11

Report number: FOI-R--2834--SE

Pages: 47

Written in: Swedish


  • space
  • satellites
  • capability
  • ambitions
  • space actors
  • trends
  • reconnaissance
  • satellite communication


This report is intended to clarify the future strategic role of space. The work draws particular attention to the impact on the use of space and on international security in a 10-20 years perspective fore some key players. The focus has been on describing military capabilities and ambitions in the space arena. Thus, industrial and technological aspects have been toned down. The report describes trends in the space arena in the following areas: International development, integration of space capabilities in military systems as well as civilian-military cooperation. A brief overview is given of the military capabilities that space systems offer today. The report then ends with a description in quantitative terms of today´s space operators and their ambitions in the coming years. In conclusion, the authors predict that the space arena and its systems will have an increasingly significant role in an increasing number of armed forces in the world. Developments in technology over the past few decades have been causing space systems to become smaller and cheaper. Meanwhile, the knowledge of how satellites are developed and its use is broadening to more countries. Space technology has gone from being a monopoly for super-powers to providing military capability also for developing countries. Military capabilities in the space arena is visualised in the report by a development in three steps. Especially in the 2000s, the international proliferation of space technology have been very rapid. This means that a number of countries (Brazil, India, Iran, Pakistan, South Korea) now are advancing several steps in its development and they have created their own military capabilities based on space technology. Sweden has been technologically and industrially speaking an advanced spece-nation some 20 years ago. The Swedish military capabilities in the space arena have however developed very slowly and are still far down the development "stair". Within 20 years - if Sweden and the Swedish Armed Forces do not act focused in the space arena - the authors consider that this imbalance in military capabilities will grow between Sweden and other internationally active countries. One of the areas that are deemed especially expansive in the next five years is the ability for a global intelligence gathering. The imbalance is likely to increase while more and probably more conflict-oriented countries are taking additional "steps" in the military capabilities in space. With our international operations, both civilian and military, threats to the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish citizens are the likely to increase.