Accession Number:

ADA517485

Title:

China's ASAT Test: Motivations and Implications

Descriptive Note:

Journal article

Corporate Author:

NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES

Report Date:

2007-01-01

Pagination or Media Count:

8.0

Abstract:

China launched a direct-ascent ASAT weapon on January 11, 2007, which struck a Chinese FY-1 weather satellite in low Earth orbit LEO. The ASATs kinetic kill vehicle was likely boosted by a two-stage launcher based on a DF-21 medium-range ballistic missile, which may be mounted on a mobile launcher. China reportedly conducted several previous tests of the system it is unclear if the same configuration was used for all the tests. The successful test demonstrates a Chinese capability to destroy a number of U.S. satellites in LEO used for reconnaissance, remote sensing, surveillance, electronic surveillance, and meteorology. The direct-ascent ASAT appears to be part of a larger Chinese ASAT program that includes ground-based lasers and jamming of satellite signals. Peoples Republic of China PRC analysts, scientists, and strategists have written extensively about ASAT weapons and potential means of countering U.S. military uses of space. The revelation by the director of the NRO that Chinese lasers have painted U.S. satellites indicates a capability to disrupt imaging satellites by dazzling or blinding them. Jamming can disrupt U.S. military communications and global positioning system GPS navigation and targeting signals. The exact performance characteristics of Chinese systems are unknown, but a range of ASAT capabilities would provide flexible options to temporarily or permanently deny U.S. space capabilities. The NDUs Institute for National Strategic Studies convened an unclassified roundtable to discuss the motivations and implications of Chinas direct-ascent ASAT weapons test. The roundtable was intended to highlight issues and perspectives that U.S. policy makers should consider in thinking about U.S. responses to the test. This report draws heavily on views expressed at the discussion, but the authors have added further analysis to provide a fuller explication of the relevant policy issues.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Surface-Launched Guided Missiles
  • Countermeasures
  • Unmanned Spacecraft

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE