After the targeted killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Iran flexed a bit of its ballistic missile muscle in retaliation, striking several bases in Iraq that housed U.S. troops. Striking a target just across a national border is relatively easy. What is much harder however, is striking an adversary’s satellites.
A report from CSIS stated that Iran’s “missile forces are a potent tool for Iranian power projection and a credible threat to U.S. and partner military forces in the region.”
Converting a missile from ground attack to space attack is not necessarily difficult. And space is a ripe target. Satellites are virtually defenseless from strikes by kill vehicles.
The United States, and virtually the entire world is dependent on satellites for peaceful reasons like communications, for navigating by GPS—and for violent reasons, like guiding precision-guided munition, or snapping photos from nuclear test sites.
One expert on the danger posed by anti-satellite capabilities wrote, “the military applications of ASAT missiles appear fairly obvious. Iran would seek to use the ASAT missiles to knock out U.S. satellites in order to degrade its capabilities, rendering distributed U.S. military and allied assets unable to communicate or share information.”
If enough satellites were knocked out in a conflict scenario, troops would have to dust of the ole map and compass.
A Defense Intelligence Agency report acknowledged Iran’s desire to shape the space battlefield. "Iran recognizes the strategic value of space and counterspace capabilities and will attempt to deny an adversary use of space during a conflict.”
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