Friday, December 11, 2009

China's strong distribution in the space chessboard - Perspectives on Sino-US anti-satellite weapons competition

Air Force officials generally agreed that the space is the United States "the most lethal weakness" In fact, the United States has been reduced to "taking space" country. In the coming new kind of war, the United States this kind of "military power" is likely to be not very superior opponents "hijacked."

    If we say that this century will be staged in a war between major powers, then it may no longer be as before, from the ground and air explosions to start, but will silently began in space, the kinetic energy weapons and laser weapons, radiation interception. China is vigorously developing anti-satellite weapons have pairs of future U.S. military strategy in the Pacific region have a significant impact. Many of America's strategic plans have even worried about the view that, if not maintain adequate vigilance against the United States will encounter in space again, "Pearl Harbor", the United States in the information age has evolved into an absolute advantage will follow the industrial age disadvantage. Thus, with the development of China's increasingly sophisticated anti-satellite weapons, the United States will actively develop a means of deterrence against the anti-satellite weapons, and the next generation of space technology, which will no doubt lead the field in the space of a "Great Game."

    Chinese anti-satellite weapons development can not be belittled

   Give priority to developing anti-satellite weapons, the PLA's history can be traced back to the early 90s of the last century. In 2000 the U.S. Department of Defense issued its annual China military power report, first disclosed that the PLA is developing helicopter-style anti-satellite missile, saying it is only weaken the U.S. military in space, China has taken the initiative in a small part of the initiative. Subsequent developments seem to validate the accuracy of the judgments. According to media reports, beginning in 2004, the PLA has conducted three helicopter-type anti-satellite weapons test, and eventually in the January 11, 2007 to the fourth test of success, has been shot down an obsolete weather satellite . In this test, China's aviation engineers have conducted numerous anti-satellite weapon simulations, and to the development of "space interceptors," the name of the successful use of solid-fuel rocket will be weighing about 100 kg payload along a specific orbit into space.

    China's helicopter-type kinetic kill vehicle into space launch vehicle, probably in the DF-21 medium-range ballistic missile based on the improvements made as a self-propelled four solid-fuel rocket with a range of about 1000 meters in the 1700 ~ 2500 between. U.S. intelligence agencies called the SC-19 anti-satellite missile may be a "pioneer" -1 (KT-1) or "pioneer" -1 type a new solid-fuel rocket variants. Although the Chinese side said that KT-1 is mainly used for launching small commercial satellites, but in fact the project started early to determine the priority to meet the military needs, "to accelerate the pace of development of China's space weapons." This means of delivery, Earth-based radar guidance system has been supporting, and the other in China, according to unconfirmed sources, such ASAT kinetic kill vehicle is used in improved HQ-19 missile warhead. HQ-19 missile is Russia's most advanced S-400 surface to air missile (NATO code name SA-21 "Growler"), the Chinese version. The missile was fired from 30 meters height of the cold, after starting the ignition of solid fuel engine, in-flight use of the initial and intermediate stages of correction with a radio-inertial guidance, to intercept targets in the final guidance to the initiative. Involved in anti-satellite weapons, the PLA Air Force, the project engineers had put forward the specific reference Russia's most advanced air defense technology, crack anti-satellite project in the development of a number of problems. However, a higher level of national R & D projects will also be infrared seeker guidance system research and development as a priority. Therefore, the Chinese ASAT kinetic kill vehicle guidance system may be both the use of Doppler radar, are also equipped with infrared seeker.

   The long-term focus on military issues, according to a news website revealed that the Chinese People's Liberation Army has deployed as many as 40 helicopter-style anti-satellite missile. In addition, China imported from Russia that can be equipped with eight battalions of S-300PMU2 air missile systems. These missiles have a certain degree of ballistic missile interceptors, slightly modified to also be used to intercept satellite. Some unconfirmed reports also said that China's military, China's integrated air and space defense system in the development of increasing interest, emphasizing anti-aircraft missile systems to seek control of space. Such a system may be related to the U.S. military's "Standard Missile-3" project is somewhat similar. "Standard Missile-3" is a sea-based theater missile defense system the United States an important part, for the intercept incoming ballistic missiles, anti-satellite weapons involved in the project of the Chinese engineers were already conducted in-depth study of the missile.

    Chinese helicopter-style anti-satellite weapons development, the United States in low-Earth orbit camera surveillance satellites, electro-optical imaging satellites, synthetic aperture radar satellites and electronic intelligence satellites, and pose a serious threat. Strategic Defense experts say, as long as the deployment of 20 helicopter-type anti-satellite weapons, we can ensure the destruction of classified national security and space imaging systems rely mainly on a 6-7 opto-electronic reconnaissance imaging / synthetic aperture radar satellites; and Ruozai to deploy 20 more pieces of helicopter-type anti-satellite weapons, you can ensure that the destruction of all three satellites from the satellite group of the four common-rail seat, so that the loss of which the lock-enemy the United States Navy warships and land-based air defense system means, will not be able to use -the-horizon satellite-guided missile attack these targets. Therefore, these opto-electronic reconnaissance imaging / synthetic aperture radar / electronic intelligence satellites are likely to become China's anti-satellite weapons, targets, if it had been hit on the beginning of the conflict, then to the United States is a very heavy blow.

   In addition to the successful test of the helicopter type to obtain kinetic energy interceptors, China's helicopter-style anti-satellite weapons could also equipped with electromagnetic pulse (nuclear or non-nuclear) warhead. People's Liberation Army is also committed to providing its anti-ship ballistic missile warheads in a similar research and development projects, both the technology used is also similar. Once the system is operational deployment of such weapons, will the United States a large number of in low-Earth orbit and high elliptical orbit of the military and civilian satellites pose a serious threat. China may think that this approach can effectively deal with the recent deployment of U.S. missile defense-related infrared early warning satellites, so as to ensure an effective nuclear deterrent.

    However, in view of improving the DF-21 medium-range ballistic missiles from the vehicle, its range can not reach the earth's surface at a distance over 35,000 km of low-inclination equatorial orbit and geostationary-orbiting satellites, which rely heavily on the U.S. most of the military communications satellites, missile warning satellites and electronic reconnaissance satellites, etc. for running in these areas, it is reported that China is JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles on the basis of developing a submarine-launched anti-satellite vehicle. JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, China's new generation of major equipment, "Jin"-class ballistic missile nuclear submarines, the final number may reach 20 construction. U.S. Defense Department assessment ,2009-2010, said there will be five "Jin"-class nuclear submarine with an initial operational capability.

    Taking into account the equatorial orbits of the geostationary orbit and the distance between the Earth's surface far exceeds the JL-2 missile range, coupled with China's radar satellite tracking capability is still relatively limited, short-term Chinese anti-satellite weapons, yet can not run on the track U.S. main military communications, early warning and electronic reconnaissance satellites pose a threat. However, there are unconfirmed reports that China is DF-25 medium-range ballistic missile based on the development of an improved launch vehicle and ultimately the possibility of using DF-31 medium-range / intercontinental ballistic missile technology increase the first-stage rocket motor thrust, and can lock the United States use of geostationary satellites of advanced guidance system. At the same time, China is also developing other could easily threaten the United States geostationary orbit satellite weapons technology, such as RF interference, network warfare, or laser weapon system.

    China has been vigorously developing directed energy weapons systems, especially ground-based laser systems, and to deal with the United States, with its satellites. In August 2006 to 10 months, China has on several occasions to use high-energy ground-based laser systems, "blinding" or "exposure" through China over the U.S. spy satellite. It is reported that this may be China's anti-satellite weapons test; it may be the use of relatively low energy of the laser ranging device, an attempt to accurate determination of the U.S. satellite's orbit for its anti-satellite weapons, lock the target service.

    There is a perception that China's air-launched on a regular basis to a strong laser, indicating that he possesses the potential to paralyze the U.S. reconnaissance satellites. U.S. Department of Defense officials also said, "They let us see them a laser, it seems that you want to intimidate us." Besides, according to a news web site reports that China may already be in its northwest region, most likely less susceptible to electrical interference in Xinjiang Tianshan days for at least the deployment of a very large area, "anti-satellite laser gun."

    In addition, China has also been committed to the development (some have already deployed) network warfare capability to invade the U.S. space control center system; the development of common-rail paralyze the enemy ASAT weapons to a secret satellite; the development of radio-frequency weapons, to disrupt enemy satellite signals; and the development of high-energy microwave weapons trying to destroy the satellite from the ground. Some of these weapons systems research and development has been more than a decade, such as network warfare and laser weapons programs had been very mature. As for the common-rail anti-satellite weapons development, China carried out in September last year, the "Shenzhou VII" manned space flight, astronauts spacewalk mission, and autonomous flight after the first 31 laps from the top of the orbital module in space accompanied by the release of a flight of small satellites, indicating that China has mastered the use of common-rail a secret reconnaissance satellite, or even attack enemy satellite technology. Of particular note is that with flying small satellites had only 25 kilometers from the international space station where speeding and over, this move is very close to the satellite launch of the mock attacks. In the short term, China is likely to take advantage of this technology from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in micro-satellite to serve as a common-rail anti-satellite weapons to attack in the United States geostationary orbit satellites. In the long run, this anti-satellite weapons are also expected to achieve mobile launchers on land. Obviously, the U.S. space operations, as well as almost all modern means of warfare the U.S. military, China's massive anti-satellite weapons program poses a clear challenge to the United States can not but arouse a high degree of vigilance, especially in the United States rely heavily on space-based facilities Army in the Pacific theater seriously.

    Space: America's "most vulnerable soft rib"

    In the U.S. view, China is rapidly growing as a space-age as a superpower. China has no doubt changed by pilot action of the past, the United States to dominate the leading edge of space, and since the end of the Cold War posture of international space cooperation. China's anti-satellite weapons would be a huge constellation of satellites the United States the only threat facing seat. Currently, the U.S. already has nearly 270 military satellites, as well as perform a variety of military missions of the hundreds of satellites for civilian, commercial, as well as dual-use satellites. Although the U.S. military space force composition data has not been made public, but a number of public information also can be inferred clues:

    Opto-electronic reconnaissance imaging satellites to collect higher resolution image information has been reported that the United States has launched three weighing 15 tons each, a modified "Keyhole" KH-12 optical imaging reconnaissance satellite. The satellite in low Earth orbit, you can shoot wide with only a few centimeters of the target image. In addition, in order to increase the number of existing image intelligence platform, the United States may have been fired code-named "hazy" and KH-12 Improved stealth satellite. The stealth satellites can escape the enemy's detection and tracking. And with the KH-12 and other national security satellite platform, "opaque" satellite (reported to have fired two, choose the third satellite will be launched this year) is also part of the performance of a nuclear war can be carried out very strong spacecraft.

    Synthetic aperture radar satellites the United States currently has three, each weighs 15 tons of "Lacrosse / Onyx" synthetic aperture radar imaging satellite in low Earth orbit can be all-weather target shooting in the dark with a resolution of no more than 2 meters. Other reports said the satellite can also be taken to a certain depth underground or underwater target image.

    In addition to signals intelligence satellite imagery intelligence satellites, the U.S. military has also relied heavily on signals intelligence satellites. According to reports, the U.S. currently has three large-scale "consultant / Orion" satellite runs on from the Earth's surface nearly 3.6 million km of Earth in geostationary orbit, and not far from communication satellites, you can collect 100 meters in diameter parabolic antenna radio radio signals emitted .

    Similarly, missile warning satellites in geostationary orbit were 4-5, "Defense Support Program" satellites, which carry infrared sensors capable of detecting worldwide missile launches and nuclear explosions, and early warning in advance. "Defense Support Program" satellites in the 1991 Gulf War displayed their ability to detect the "Scud" missile launches, and in time for the U.S. coalition forces, as well as the densely populated central areas to provide early warning. In addition, the satellite is also able to detect real-time short-range ballistic missile launches.

    Communications satellites to ensure the confidentiality of peacetime and wartime military communications, the United States in the early 80s of the last century began a military satellite communications systems engineering, namely, "Military Star" system for a large number of users, especially the military provide real-time, confidential and anti-jamming communications services, communications beam global coverage. There are also nine "national defense satellite communications system," -3 run in the geostationary orbit, could give priority to provide communications support for command and control department.

    GPS Global Positioning Satellite United States is currently a total of 24 (plus spare satellite) global positioning satellite has been operating at a distance of about 2 million km of Earth in the Earth's orbit, able to provide the U.S. military and civilian users worldwide coverage of the high-precision navigation, positioning, speed, time and other information. The satellite could help the Allies through the uninhabited desert; guide "joint direct attack munitions" precision bombing enemy targets, while try to reduce collateral damage caused by one's own side.

    In short, it is the comprehensive utilization of these space-based facilities only to make the U.S. military has a vital intelligence gathering, security, communications, mobile navigation, missile guidance, weather forecasting, as well as critical missile warning and missile defense capabilities to enable U.S. military in modern war, an unrivaled advantage of information technology, and further boost the U.S. military transformation. According to statistics, in 2003 the Iraq war, the U.S. military, 68% of the satellite-guided munitions used, and in the 1991 Gulf War, satellite-guided munitions accounted for only 10%.

    An Air Force officer who is proud to say, with an advanced and powerful satellite technology, the United States no longer have to harsh environments in the dense fog of battle, but only in the "e-cloud" in the attack. However, because the U.S. military is still four-fifths of the data to be transmitted via commercial satellites, and is now only a "Global Hawk" unmanned aerial reconnaissance missions over the Middle East occupied by the data transmission bandwidth, which is equivalent in 1991 as a whole the bandwidth used during the Gulf War several times, therefore, Air Force officials generally agreed that the space is the United States "the most fatal weakness." U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center commander, General Michael Hammer, who in January 2007 on China's anti-satellite weapons test pointed out that "once they achieve asymmetric advantage in space, and our war machine will be falling back from the information age to the industrial era - military power compared to the opponent side will tilt. " Many experts also believe that not only the U.S. military, even the U.S. economy, as well as the global economy has begun to excessive reliance on space systems. Their view, in fact, the United States has been reduced to "taking space" country, their way of life and space satellites to provide the various functions are inseparable.

    The U.S. military from the late 90 century and the beginning of this century in a series of simulations of war have verified the above deduction point of view. Closely involved in a number of space experts said that such exercises, these exercises revealed the U.S. political and economic circles have largely ignored a fatal problem, the United States suffered losses when the space infrastructure, not only immediately affect the U.S. economy, social and of national security, but also spread throughout the world. The experts further noted that, in the new kind of war, the United States this kind of "military power" is likely to be not very superior opponents "hijacked." These concerns them, apparently with the Chinese anti-satellite weapons test and its possible future Sino-US conflict, the use of the. Recently by the U.S. Pacific Air Force, the "Pacific Vision" simulation exercise, also shows the Air Force is highly dependent on the commercial satellite channels, as well as network and radar, are vulnerable to attack by China.

    In view of the U.S. military's growing dependence on space systems, future U.S. forces in any military intervention in the Taiwan Strait area action needs to have a reliable satellite system protection. In addition, the reconnaissance satellite will also help to reduce the two sides in a crisis situation because under the build-up and deployment of troops is likely to cause the risk of war. However, if U.S. satellites due to being pre-empted by the Chinese anti-satellite weapon attacks blinding, will make the conflict quickly escalated to a dangerous level. Long been concerned about the Taiwan issue two U.S. experts said, "If we say that will happen in the 21st century war between major powers, which in our view, the two countries will definitely be around the Taiwan Strait issue triggered war, but most likely to experience a terrorist escalation of the process. "The judge not only reflects the seriousness of this problem, but also reveals the Chinese turned to the deployment of anti-satellite weapons may have adverse effects.

    U.S. needs to remedy the situation

    Although China's helicopter-style anti-satellite weapons, which were unable to crack down on a run in the geostationary orbit or a high elliptical orbit of the majority of U.S. satellites, but there have been reports, GPS signals susceptible to interference cases to the Chinese side has also caused growing concern This prompted the U.S. to establish a number of spare ground station, in case the main GPS control centers suffer network attacks paralyzed. U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency have also introduced at least 11 shared monitoring stations in order to improve the GPS ground facilities. The United States also plans to deploy a new generation of stronger anti-interference ability GPS-III satellites. In addition, the United States is also able to transmit more data to develop a laser communication system, and even more difficult to interference than radio waves. The U.S. military will be expected to strengthen the threats of space surveillance and intelligence gathering capabilities, while enhancing the low-Earth orbit in the electro-optical reconnaissance imaging / synthetic aperture radar satellites "passive defense" capability. Other defensive measures include increasing the number of spare satellites, in order to avoid China's track and lock.

    Coincidentally, on the anti-satellite weapons test in China, just four months later, the U.S. Air Force on Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico set up a "response action Space Center", the main task is to face unexpected events in the United States, using a small help Thruster launch micro-satellites to replace the failed attacks in orbit satellites, increase the number of existing platforms. To date, the Center has launched into space two "tactical Star" -2 and "tactical Star" -3 micro-satellites. "Tactical Star" -2 fitted with low-power image sensors, and signals intelligence payload may be anywhere in the world compatible with common data relay station to communicate directly. "Tactical Star" -3 is applied hyperspectral imaging sensors, can identify the camouflage of ground targets, such as vehicles, buildings and mines. In addition, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Command in April this year, also received four each weighs four kilograms of nano-satellites, intended to use its low-Earth orbit satellite constellation deployment of nano-scale blocks, providing global coverage of the communication function. First nano-satellite is scheduled for launch into orbit in 2009, launch date by the end of June may have been identified, the remaining will be completed later fired. Traditional satellite deployment and time-consuming up to several years, while expenses enormous, but nano-satellite products can be deployed within a year, and the stars of the cost of each no more than 100 million U.S. dollars.

    U.S. Air Force is also alleged to invest heavily in development of the performance of supersonic stealth unmanned aerial vehicles. The aircraft in flight speed, altitude, stealth performance and endurance, etc., are very well compensate for the R & D process may be slow or have been a result of anti-satellite weapons to attack satellites gap. In addition, the U.S. Air Force has been deployed in high elliptical orbit of the two space infrared system satellites, and also plans to deploy third satellite later this year. This satellite location in the running to nearly the speed rapidly, China is difficult to capture them. The satellite provides a revolutionary early warning system, according to the tail engine jet flame characteristics, keen to find and lock on the mobile missile launchers, missile defense and thus can play a key role.

    To enhance the anti-Chinese anti-satellite weapons system, a deterrent, the United States is also seeking to use the "global real blow" to the Chinese anti-satellite weapons and attacks in retaliation, for example, a modified non-nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles; with a "bunker bomb" stealth bomber ; In addition, from a modified "Ohio"-class nuclear submarine-launched high-speed long-range cruise missiles, but also to quickly crack down on Chinese anti-satellite missile launch site. The above-mentioned strategic adjustment in the U.S., the Pacific Ocean plays a key role in Guam. Guam is currently engaged in massive construction of military facilities, from the perspective of the fight against anti-satellite weapons, possibly including "Global Hawk" unmanned aerial vehicles, B-2 stealth bombers, fast-attack submarines, cruise missiles, submarines, and an aircraft carrier battle groups Zhu Bo and support facilities. Is particularly worth mentioning is that the U.S. Navy deployed two missile submarines in the Pacific can be equipped with 154 cruise missiles against Chinese anti-satellite weapons, launch sites, and possible future with a greater payload and a new generation of supersonic super sonic cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles. This converted submarines to launch in China's coastal areas up to 400 days of continuous patrol base in Guam during the period can be a brief 21-day break in order to rotate the crew, maintenance and logistical support.

    Long-term point of view, the U.S. Air Force is developing a general-purpose aircraft or space plane, used a series of ultra-sonic projection of conventional weapons to fight against the enemy anti-satellite weapons. However, given the use of such weapons systems, nuclear tensions are likely to exacerbate the situation, the project's current development focus is primarily on a global scale or for the rapid delivery and deployment of space systems. In any case, the project with the U.S. Navy cruise missile submarines, and in the research, like many of the orbiter project will deal with the Chinese anti-satellite weapons in the future the growing threat of the formation of space to play an important role.