16 October 2015
New Details About China’s Space Weapons Aimed at Thwarting US Military
New details about China's space-weapons program have been released ahead of a
congressional annual report outlining Beijing's plans to destroy
or jam US satellites and limit American combat operations.
The final report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission examining China's programs, dubbed counterspace arms, is due to be published next month.
A late draft of the commission's annual report, obtained by Inside the Ring, states:
"China is pursuing a broad and robust array of counterspace capabilities, which includes direct-ascent anti-satellite missiles, co-orbital anti-satellite systems, computer network operations, ground-based satellite jammers and directed energy weapons. China’s nuclear arsenal also provides an inherent anti-satellite capability."
In the event of a conflict, the Chinese military expect to use a combination of kinetic, electronic and cyber attacks against satellites or ground support structures, Inside the Ring reports.
The Chinese are currently developing two direct-ascent missiles capable of hitting satellites in both lower and higher orbits. Anti-satellite missile tests were carried out as recently as last year.
For space-based weapons, China reportedly is developing co-orbital anti-satellite weapons, which move close to satellite targets and then deploy weapons to disable or destroy them.
According to the commission report, the Chinese simulated such an attack in 2008 when it sent a miniature imaging satellite within 28 miles of the International Space Station without notification. China believes demonstrating its capability to damage or destroy satellites deters adversaries, the report states.
China is also planning military cyber attacks that can take control of satellites by hacking into their microwave signals.
"If executed successfully, such attacks could significantly threaten US information superiority, particularly if they are conducted against satellites with sensitive military and intelligence functions," the report says.
The commission also alleges that Chinese hackers probably were behind several computer attacks against US space assets, including a September 2014 hack.
Beijing's nuclear capabilities also could be used
against satellites. A nuclear detonation in low-earth orbit would
create a damaging electromagnetic pulse that could disrupt