Attention, China: The U.S. military will soon be staging a bit of sky theater in trying to shoot down an inoperative American intelligence satellite. So, what does this show of atmospheric pyrotechnics have to do with China? Read on.
The Washington Times:
The Pentagon’s plan to shoot down a failed satellite with a missile defense interceptor in the coming days is aimed at preventing toxic fuel from reaching earth. But U.S. officials and experts said yesterday it would also signal that U.S. missile defenses can be used to counter China’s strategic anti-satellite weapons.
China conducted its first successful test of an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon on Jan. 11, 2007, in what defense and military officials called a new strategic threat to the United States.
Bush administration defense and national security officials involved in interagency discussions on the satellite destruction plan said one reason for using the missile defense system against a space target would be to highlight its potential as an ASAT weapon. The Pentagon has been discussing ways to deter and counter China’s ASAT weapon, which can threaten U.S. military and civilian communications, especially command and control systems involving satellites.
Publicly, however, officials who announced the plan yesterday sought to play down the ASAT capability.