Start the conversation
An elite squad of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) has been quietly preparing for a possible war with Asia.
This war wouldn't be fought on land, sea, or even in the air.
It would take place in space.
You see, many of America's most vital - and vulnerable - military targets aren't cities or bases; they're GPS satellites. And their protection has become a priority for the USAF.
"Our job is to provide that global unblinking eye to be able to detect and warn against those threats and be able to provide that to the decision makers," four-star U.S. Gen. Jay Raymond, the military's top space commander, told CBS News Tuesday morning (Oct. 24).
According to CBS News, the eight-person USAF squad operates out of a remote base in rural Colorado. All day, every day, they watch worldwide missile launch "hot spots" in order to alert the U.S. government and its allies about tests being carried out or planned.
Despite the apparent vulnerability of our satellites, the Air Force seems quite assured of its own capabilities to launch an effective defense...
When asked how confident he was that the U.S. military's "global unblinking eye" will never shut, Gen. Raymond told CBS News this morning, "it doesn't blink. It's always open."
See which American adversaries this "unblinking eye" is watching now - and how you can profit from these rising global tensions...
Russia and China
There are actually 10 nations worldwide that have the capability of launching a missile into outer space toward a target (such as a satellite). And yesterday, CBS News reported that our biggest adversaries in that arena are Russia and China.
We've already seen what both countries can do...
In 2007, for example, Beijing launched an anti-satellite missile that destroyed a Chinese "dummy" target in space and created more than 3,000 dangerous fragments' worth of space detritus in the process.
To date, the Red Dragon has now conducted a total of eight such tests - each one meant to display its ever-evolving marksmanship and technological aerospace advancements to the world (though Beijing would never actually admit that).
Alert: Defense Stocks Are Skyrocketing - Invest in This Company Now, Before It's Too Late
And then there's Russia - America's longest, most notorious "Space Race" rival.
In 2015, Moscow carried out three missile tests of its own, each one designed to destroy satellites orbiting Earth's atmosphere, much like the projectiles launched by China eight years prior.
Moscow may not have the same bragging rights as Beijing with regard to its various launches, but each one of Moscow's missile tests has sent its own implicit message...
Look, we can shoot down targets in space, too.
(By the way, the United States was the first nation to ever shoot down a satellite target in space... in 1989.)
What's most frightening about China and Russia's advancements over time, however, is America's increased dependence on the very targets they're preparing to strike - satellites.
We rely on them a lot.
Which makes us particularly vulnerable to our adversaries.
Just look at these stats...
How a Satellite Attack Would Affect the United States
Our everyday lives in the United States depend heavily on the U.S. military's GPS satellites currently circumnavigating Earth. There are between 24 and 30 such satellites in orbit right now, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Initially, these GPS satellites were built for use in Desert Storm some 25 years ago to ensure U.S. armed forces' communication.
But since their creation and subsequent implementation, they've slowly become integrated into virtually every aspect of our daily routines.
When we deposit money at the bank, the GPS satellites are transferring data in a matter of milliseconds between financial institutions.
When we turn on the faucet, the satellites are there, tracking our utility providers' administrative meta-data.
These GPS targets are even crucial to modern-day agriculture - farmers use their spatial GPS data to decide on crop rotation and pesticide application.
Even the stock market depends on these satellites...
Every aspect of the varied indexes rely on the satellites' GPS systems to "time-stamp" stock trades, Peter Singer, a senior fellow at non-partisan think tank New America, explained to Business Insider on July 18.
So, imagine if China or Russia - now well capable of knocking one of those 24 to 30 satellites out of orbit like a cardboard duck - actually manages to get past the USAF one day.
Editor's Note: Get real-time alerts on the "Asian arms race" sent to your inbox - almost as fast as the USAF spots an enemy missile on its radar.
That's a scary thought.
On a personal level, we can take solace in the USAF's "unblinking" self-assurance that these attacks can be stopped preemptively.
But as investors, it's important to understand that Gen. Raymond's confidence is no match for the effect of geopolitical unrest on the market. Pundits will say that global tensions are simply glancing off the markets, but make no mistake: The markets are reacting.
These reactions yield huge profit opportunities for investors.
And if you know where to look, you can profit, too.
How to Profit from the Public Fear of a War with Asia
"Geopolitical uncertainty is a built-in guarantee," says Money Morning Global Energy Strategist Dr. Kent Moors. "The real money is made by being able to play that uncertainty."
Take a look at the defense industry.
Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN) holds 400 cybersecurity patents and is working together with DARPA, the Pentagon's research agency, to protect against China's attempts to attack U.S. computer systems. It's up 28.9% year to date (YTD).
Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc. (NYSE: AJRD) is a lesser-known defense contractor responsible for the engine systems of the THAAD - the anti-missile system designed to protect South Korea - and the United States - from North Korean missiles. It's up 77.3% YTD.
And Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC) controls the patents and defense contracts for the "Atomic Navigator" chip, which allows for continuous direction and navigation without GPS satellites. It's up 25.2% YTD.
We can't predict whether or not China or Russia will successfully strike a GPS satellite, or if the "Atomic Navigator" will ever become mainstream. But as long as the threat of a satellite attack remains heavy in the air, NOC will remain a stellar play in this space.
After all, Kent says, when it comes to playing global tensions, it's not about what will happen. It's about what people are worried will happen.
And if you remember that, you won't have to worry about anything at all.
Up Next: The Defense Industry Is a Gold Mine
The South China Sea is about to get violent, and the Chinese have an alarming new superweapon they think gives them the upper hand. Or at least, that's what their war hawks think.
But they couldn't be more wrong.
Thanks to a small $6 U.S. defense contractor with a top-secret technology, the Pentagon has an ingenious new checkmate move designed to stop a Chinese sneak attack dead in its tracks. Click here to learn more...
Follow Money Morning on Twitter @moneymorning, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
- CBS News: Inside the "Unblinking Eye" Tasked with Defending America in Space
- Business Insider: China and Russia Could Cripple the U.S. with a Space Attack, but the U.S. Is Pushing Back
- Money Morning: North Korea's Silent, Invisible WMDs That No One's Talking About
- Money Morning: Theory: China Is Preparing for Another Korean War
- Money Morning: Russia Is the Most Dangerous Wild Card in the South China Sea
Or to contact Money Morning Customer Service, click here.