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In for the ‘Soft’ Kill? The People’s Liberation Army’s Discussion of U.S. Offensive Space Capabilities

  • Published
  • By Fiona Asbury
  • China Aerospace Studies Institute

The U.S. “Defense Space Strategy” summary, released 17 June 2020, outlines the U.S. objective of space superiority and identifies space as “a distinct warfighting domain.”1 On 9 March 2020, the “first offensive weapon system in the United States Space Force (USSF), the Counter Communications System Block 10.2 (CCS B10.2), achieved Initial Operational Capability.”2 On 17 May 2020, the USSF launched the X-37B space plane’s sixth mission, which included a number of classified experiments and the deployment of small satellites.3 Against the backdrop of an increasingly explicit U.S. space strategy, these two space capabilities have turned heads, especially within the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The PLA views both as potential offensive space weapons.

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