Despite the fact that the major powers have all expressed concerns about ‘militarizing’ space, China seems interested in doing just that. Beijing is going all-in for anti-satellite weapons as means of developing an asymmetric countermeasure against a major U.S. military asset.
Once the technology matures, China will have an ability to greatly diminish U.S. reconnaissance of North Korea and throughout Asia, as well as hinder the Pentagon’s satellite-based targeting systems.
That said, it isn’t clear yet how China would deploy an ASAT capability or under what circumstances. What’s more, the U.S. does not have an ability to convince China to abandon such weapons because its own anti-missile systems are viewed by the Chinese as a potential ASAT capability.
The U.S. and Russia have pursued counter-space and ASAT technologies throughout the Cold War. But it wasn’t until 2007 when China demonstrated the ability to destroy a satellite; Beijing targeted and destroyed its oldest meteorologic satellite (at the time), shattering it into more than 3,000 pieces of space junk that still threaten space-based assets today.
“China has spent more than a decade exploring technology for interfering with foreign satellites. Non-kinetic means have included directed energy or cyber capabilities, while kinetic approaches include direct-ascent missiles and co-orbital platforms traveling alongside satellites in orbit. Much of this counter-space research has taken place with dual-use capabilities that provide a level of deniability. That could be hiding Chinese intent to develop ASAT capabilities for deployment during a time of crisis.” [source]
The Forward Observer Watchfloor provides a brief synopsis and summary of breaking and developing news and events. For additional information and expert analysis from intelligence and special operations professionals, subscribe to Strategic Intelligence or National Intelligence.