China is developing increasingly capable naval platforms, aircraft, and missiles that could hold U.S. Navy vessels and their supporting assets at risk in the Western Pacific. To employ these systems well, China will need effective information, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). One element of ISR, an emerging network of space-based sensors, could improve the targeting capabilities of China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and Second Artillery. This network promises to give the Chinese military unprecedented ability to monitor surface ships on China's maritime periphery. It might permit China to precisely target such ships with both cruise and ballistic missiles. Thus, this network could facilitate the devastating multi-axis saturation attacks envisioned widely by Chinese analysts.
Eyes in the Sky
With 15 new satellites launched in 2008 alone and an ambitious program to produce more space-based surveillance technology, China is increasing its ability to monitor its near seas with deadly precision.
By Andrew S. Erickson