The US Response to China's ASAT Test: An International Security Space Alliance for the Future (Drew Paper Number 8, August 2009)
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL AIR FORCE RESEARCH INST
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Lt. Colonel Anthony Mastalir has done policy makers a welcome service by exploring the enigma wrapped in a conundrum which is Chinese space policy, focusing on the Chinese kinetic energy antisatellite KE-ASAT test of January 2007. That test ended a de facto moratorium on KE-ASAT tests which the United States and Russia had observed for over two decades. It also announced the arrival of a new player in strategic space, forcing a reevaluation of U.S. capabilities in space as well as Chinese intentions there. Colonel Mastalir examines both that reevaluation and those intentions, relying on open-source material, particularly from Chinese strategic and military analysts. Of chief interest, of course, are the motives of the Peoples Republic of China PRC leadership for demonstrating a technology -- kinetic kill of satellites in low-earth orbit -- which is so destructive to the common environment of space. This in particular is something PRC spokesmen themselves have never adequately explained. Still, what emerges from the documents the author examines is the picture of an intellectual framework of deterrence strikingly similar to that which the United States developed in the 1950s and thereafter. The fathers of U.S. deterrence strategy -- Thomas Schelling, Albert Wohlstetter, and Herman Kahn, among others -- would certainly recognize Peoples Liberation Army PLA space strategists as their intellectual heirs. Chinese determination to counter strategic hegemony on earth and in space, and the apparent conviction of PLA strategic planners that a robust and demonstrated ASAT capability is necessary to offset what they see as the offensive potential of programs like missile defense, would be instantly recognizable to those U.S. strategists who developed the doctrines of countervalue deterrence, escalation dominance, asymmetric warfare, and assured second-strike capability.
- Government and Political Science
- Space Warfare
- Guided Missiles