Originally published November 23 2015
China planning to destroy U.S. military satellites as part of a first strike attack
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) The Chinese military continues to perfect its anti-satellite warfare capabilities with a recent flight test of a new ASAT missile, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
For almost two decades Beijing has increasingly boosted its annual defense budget to improve weapons systems for the People's Liberation Army, Navy (PLAN) and Air Force (PLAAF). But despite advances, the Chinese military remains far behind the United States and, to a lesser degree, Russia, in terms of technological capabilities.
In fact, as noted by Paul Dibb, writing in The National Interest in October:
"This isn't to argue that China is in the final stages of disintegration like the USSR, but it is to assert that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) demonstrates all the brittleness and paper-thin professionalism of a military that has never fought a modern war and whose much-vaunted military equipment has never been tested in combat."
That said, the Chinese have made substantial advances in so-called "asymmetrical" warfare capabilities, and the anti-satellite missile is one of those systems. In fact, as the WFB notes, the new missile, once fully tested, will be added to a bevy of space weapons that Beijing is assembling as a means to counter U.S. superiority in the celestial battlespace, given that the Pentagon's most advanced systems are satellite-guided.
The WFB noted further:
"The test of a Dong Neng-3 exoatmospheric vehicle was carried out Oct. 30 from China's Korla Missile Test Complex in western China, said two defense officials familiar with reports of the test.
A Chinese press report also provided details of what was said to be a missile defense interceptor flight test carried out Nov. 1. Photos of the missile's contrails were posted online."
Defense officials who spoke on condition of anonymity with the WFB described the DN-3 as a "direct-ascent" weapon, meaning it is designed to be launched from a ground-based launcher and streak directly towards its intended target orbiting miles overhead, smashing into, and then destroying it in flight.
China has countered that the missile is designed for missile defense, and while the Pentagon has found some of those qualities in the DN-3, defense and intelligence officials believe it is primarily an ASAT weapon, the WFB noted.
As reported by NationalSecurity.news, China has conducted ASAT testing before. Indeed, Beijing's most destructive anti-satellite test took place in 2007 when an older orbiting Chinese weather satellite was targeted and destroyed.
"The satellite's destructing dramatically increased the global debris field that orbits the Earth, thereby increasing the potential that other orbiting systems could be struck and damaged," NationalSecurity.news reported.
Though Chinese officials have denied once more that the recent tests of the DN-3 were not aimed at bolstering asymmetrical ASAT capabilities, U.S. officials remain unconvinced.
In February, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Frank Rose, made some observations about a similar Chinese ASAT test that took place in 2014.
"Despite China's claims that this was not an ASAT [anti-satellite] test; let me assure you the United States has high confidence in its assessment, that the event was indeed an ASAT test," Rose said, as cited by the WFB.
"The continued development and testing of destructive ASAT systems is both destabilizing and threatens the long-term security and sustainability of the outer space environment," Rose further noted.
The State Department arms control specialist also commented that Beijing maintained a great deal of secrecy around its ASAT and other space programs. He did not rule out cooperating with China on some programs, but said that likely wouldn't occur until Beijing "changes its behavior with regard to ASATs."
Asymmetrical development ongoing
Regarding China's asymmetrical weapons development, other experts have acknowledged that it is ongoing as a means of countering U.S. technological superiorities.
"China has no illusions about its military inferiority via-a-vis the United States and knows that the status is likely to endure for at least two decades," explains security analyst Loro Horta in a paper for Yale University. "As such the PLA has been developing a full range of asymmetric strategies to deter the US until its military reaches maturity."
That said, the paper – titled, The Dragon's Spear: China's Asymmetric Strategy – noted that over a decade ago, the Federation of American Scientists reported Chinese missile development was a bright spot in an otherwise mediocre indigenous weapons development system.
"In 2010 the Chinese military was reported to have started tests on its most ambitious missile project, the DF-21A, an anti-ship ballistic missile," the paper noted. "In early 2013 several reports claimed that the missile had begun to be deployed in small numbers in Southern China. The DF-21A is reportedly designed to be an aircraft carrier killer aimed at deterring US aircraft-carrier battle groups from interfering in case of conflict over Taiwan and other flashpoints like the South China Sea."
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