Through a glass, darkly: Chinese, American, and Russian anti-satellite testing in space

On May 13, 2013, China launched a rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province. The Chinese Academy of Sciences stated it was a high-altitude scientific research mission, but unofficial U.S. government sources say it was actually a test of a new ballistic missile related to China’s anti-satellite (ASAT) program. This article uses open source information, including commercial satellite imagery purchased from DigitalGlobe, to assess these claims. It also compares what is known about current Chinese ASAT testing in space with American and Russian ASAT testing in space over the last five decades.

While there is no conclusive proof, the available evidence strongly suggests that China’s May 2013 launch was the test of the rocket component of a new direct ascent ASAT weapons system derived from a road-mobile ballistic missile. The system appears to be designed to place a kinetic kill vehicle on a trajectory to deep space that could reach medium earth orbit (MEO), highly elliptical orbit (HEO), and geostationary Earth orbit (GEO). If true, this would represent a significant development in China’s ASAT capabilities. But it would not be the first instance of an ASAT weapons system designed to attack satellites in deep space, as the Russians developed at least the components of such a system in the 1990s. Thus it is more a signal that China is a new entrant into what is an old game, and while there is some knowledge as to what capabilities China may be developing, why they are developing those capabilities is still unclear. Continue reading

Pentagon: North Korea Poses ‘Growing’ Threat to US

 

WASHINGTON — North Korea poses a mounting threat to the United States due to its pursuit of long-range missiles and nuclear weapons, the Pentagon said Tuesday in its latest strategy document.

Describing the regime in Pyongyang as “closed and authoritarian,” the Defense Department said the US military would maintain a major presence in the region and keep up investments in missile defense. Continue reading

China for first time publicizes ICBM exercise after media report about strikes on U.S. cities

The Chinese military has published a news account with photos of a live drill involving the new DongFeng-31 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

The DF-31 has sufficient range to reach targets in the continental U.S. Continue reading

Radio Silence

Pentagon, State Department silent on threatening reports outlining Chinese plans for nuclear attacks on U.S. cities

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf and Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith would not respond when asked about the highly unusual Chinese reports published Oct. 28 in numerous major Communist Party-controlled television and newspaper outlets.

The Chinese reports included maps showing nuclear strikes on Los Angeles and the Pacific Northwest, along with the resulting radiation plumes stretching thousands of miles across the western United States. Continue reading

PLA’s DF-15C missile can carry bunker buster: report

China’s DF-15C short-range ballistic missile, equipped with a deep-penetration warhead, would be able to damage or destroy underground command facilities in Taiwan and other security partners of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the Weapon, a military magazine operated by China North Industries Group Corporation, a state-run company that manufactures military vehicles. Continue reading

China Conducts Another Mobile ICBM Test

China’s military recently carried out a third test of a long-range DF-31A ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States with nuclear warheads.

U.S. officials with access to intelligence reports said the flight test of a DF-31A road-mobile ICBM took place July 24 in China and highlights Beijing’s large-scale nuclear force buildup.

The test was carried out in complete secrecy as part of China’s policy of not revealing details of its strategic nuclear forces in public. Continue reading

Britain’s struggles in nuclear race

The Trident report that is about to be unveiled is just the latest twist in what has been a long saga of Britain’s efforts to become and remain a member of the exclusive nuclear weapons club.

For much of the Cold War, the aim of successive British governments was to have a capability that mirrored in quality, if not in size, the arsenals of the superpowers.

The first stumbling block was the shock US decision to halt nuclear co-operation with Britain at the end of World War II. From being partners in the fabled Manhattan Project, Britain was left initially largely to its own (nuclear) devices. Continue reading

Treaty Cheating — Russia said to be violating 1987 missile accord

Disguising stronger ICBMs as weaker ICBMs with less capability is the case here — and America is falling for it. While the U.S. continues to “reset”, the neo-Soviet Union continues to restart.

Treaties are like pie crusts, they are made to be broken” – Vladimir Lenin

Russia is engaged in a major violation of the terms of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with the United States by building a new medium-range missile banned under the accord, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

Disclosure of the treaty violation comes as President Barack Obama last week called for a new round of arms negotiations with Moscow aimed at cutting deployed nuclear warheads by one-third.

Intelligence officials said internal assessments identified Russia’s new Yars M missile that was tested earlier this month as an INF missile with a range of less than 5,500 kilometers.

“The intelligence community believes it’s an intermediate-range missile that [the Russians] have classified as an ICBM because it would violate the INF treaty” if its true characteristics were known, said one official. Continue reading

Red China Power — China expanding submarine, missile forces with advanced systems, Pentagon annual report says

China is building two new classes of missile submarines in addition to the eight nuclear missile submarines and six attack submarines being deployed as part of an arms buildup that analysts say appears to put Beijing on a war footing.

“In terms of China’s submarines, they’re investing heavily in a robust program for undersea warfare, developing submarines that are both conventional, diesel-electric powered, air- independent propulsion and nuclear-powered attack submarines,” David Helvey, deputy assistant defense secretary for East Asia, told reporters at a briefing on release of the Pentagon’s annual assessment of Chinese military power. Continue reading

U.S. early-warning radar system to be installed near Kyoto

TOKYO — Tokyo and Washington plan to install a U.S. early-warning radar system at a coastal base near Kyoto to bolster defenses against the North Korean missile threat, reports said Sunday.

The X-band radar system will be built in an Air Self-Defense Force base in Kyotango, northwest of Kyoto, on the coast of the Sea of Japan, or East Sea, Kyodo News and Jiji Press agencies reported, citing unnamed sources. Continue reading

Ready To Launch

China conducts rare flight test of new submarine-launched missile

China’s military conducted a flight test of a new submarine-launched ballistic missile last week, a launch that came a month after the test of a new multiple-warhead, ground-mobile missile, the Free Beacon has learned.

The flight test of the new JL-2 missile took place Thursday morning from a new Jin-class ballistic missile submarine on patrol in the Bohai Sea, near the coast of northeastern China west of the Korean peninsula, said U.S. officials.

One official said the new JL-2 represents a “potential first strike” nuclear missile in China’s growing arsenal.

The submarine missile firing followed the July 24 test launch of China’s new DF-41 road-mobile ICBM that is assessed to carry multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles, or MIRVs.

The July 24 DF-41 test was the first of the new long-range ICBM that until the test had been shrouded in secrecy.

In addition to the JL-2, a variant of the DF-31 mobile missile, the new strategic weapons include three types of road-mobile ICBMs—DF-31, DF-31A, and DF-41—along with several intermediate and medium-range missiles and hundreds of short-range missiles that can be armed with both conventional and nuclear warheads. The Chinese also are modernizing their fleet of Russian-design strategic bombers.

By contrast, the Obama administration has been seeking to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. defense strategy.

The administration, according to Republicans in Congress, also appears to be going back on promises made to the Senate in 2010 to spend billions of dollars to upgrade aging U.S. strategic nuclear forces and infrastructure.

The former head of Russia’s strategic rocket forces stated in an article published in May that China’s nuclear arsenal could have as many 3,000 warheads—far more than the 300 to 400 warheads estimated by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Full article: Ready To Launch (Washington Free Beacon)

Saudis are buying nuclear-capable missiles from China

The motive for this is three-fold:

  • Frustration with the unwillingness of the Obama administration.
  • A regional threat that continues to grow out of Iran and past remarks of wanting to go nuclear should Ahmadinejad’s regime continue along the nuclear proliferation path.
  • Although there’s peace/stability between the two, they’re still not truly allies of Israel.

debkafile’s military sources report that Saudi Arabia has set its feet on the path to a nuclear weapon capability and is negotiating in Beijng the purchase of Chinese nuclear-capable Dong-Fen 21 ((NATO-codenamed CSS-5) ballistic missile.

China, which has agreed to the transaction in principle, would also build a base of operations near Riyadh for the new Saudi purchases.

As we reported last year, Saudi Arabia has struck a deal with Pakistan for the availability on demand of a nuclear warhead from Islamabad’s arsenal for fitting onto a ballistic missile.

Riyadh owns a direct interest in the two most active Middle East issues: Iran and Syria.

Iran’s nuclear weapons program has been advancing for two decades regardless of countless attempts at restraint by every diplomatic tool under the sun and a rising scale of sanctions – to no avail.

Tehran marches on regardless of impediments. In Istanbul, Tuesday, July 3, the six powers and Iran failed the fourth attempt to reach an accommodation on Iran’s nuclear program.

On July 1, they redoubled their military preparedness when the European Union clamped down an oil embargo on Iran. The Saudis, the US Fifth Fleet and the entire Gulf region are since braced for Iranian reprisals which could come in the form of closure by Tehran of the vital Straits of Hormuz to shipping or strikes against the Gulf emirates’ oil exporting facilities.

Tension shot up again when Iran’s Revolutionary Guards launched a three-day missile drill against simulated enemy bases in the region – expanding its threats to include US forces and bases in the region, Israel and Turkey.

Full article: Saudis are buying nuclear-capable missiles from China (DEBKAfile)

With eye on China, India tests new long-range missile

India views the 50-tonne Agni V as a key boost to its regional power aspirations and one that narrows — albeit slightly — the huge gap with China’s technologically advanced missile systems.

“The Agni V can strike targets across China, potentially freeing up other short- and intermediate-range missiles for use against Pakistan and much of west and south-central China,” said IHS Jane’s analyst Poornima Subramaniam.

“Extensive land- and sea-launched missile development programmes have become important elements in India’s nuclear strategy, and in that context the Agni V is a significant development,” Subramaniam told AFP.

Full article: With eye on China, India tests new long-range missile (Defence Talk)

EXCLUSIVE: N. Korean satellite launch pretext for Iran missile test

Western security officials now believe that sending the satellite into space is only a pretext for the primary goal of the launch, and that the actual purpose is to test a long-range ballistic missile belonging to another country. Suspicions, as stated, have fallen on Iran.

Full article: EXCLUSIVE: N. Korean satellite launch pretext for Iran missile test (Israel Hayom)

Russia to resume SSBN patrols of worldwide strategic waterways

In a throwback to the Cold War, Russia announced plans to beef up its submarine patrols of strategic waters around the world.

“On June 1 or a bit later we will resume constant patrolling of the world’s oceans by strategic nuclear submarines,” Russian Navy Commander Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky announced Feb. 3.

Global patrols by nuclear-powered, ballistic missile-carrying submarines or SSBNs were a hallmark of the Soviet Union’s nuclear deterrence strategy.

Full article: Russia to resume SSBN patrols of worldwide strategic waterways (World Tribune)