In the prelude to any conflict with the United States, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will target U.S. satellites to degrade the U.S. armed forces’ ability to fight. China has invested heavily in kinetic and nonkinetic offensive counter-space capabilities explicitly focused on destroying space-enabled U.S. command, control, and communications networks. The Sea Services rely on satellite-enabled networks for missions ranging from aerial reconnaissance and GPS navigation to over-the-horizon targeting and ballistic missile defense. These networks in turn rely on expensive high-orbit, high-capability satellites that would be difficult to replace in any sustained conflict with China. PLA strategists hope that by credibly threatening to render U.S. forces deaf, dumb, and blind, they can at a minimum impede the U.S. ability to shoot, move, and communicate, or at best completely deter a U.S. response to Chinese aggression.
1. Peng Guangqian and Yao Youzhi, eds., The Science of Military Strategy (Beijing: Military Science Publishing House, 2005).
2. M. Taylor Fravel, Active Defense: China's Military Strategy since 1949 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019), 63.
4. Charles M. Westenhoff, “Why We Need an Air Force,” (1995), 66.