Will China’s new laser satellite become the ‘Death Star’ for submarines?

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Scientists are working on a device they hope will be able to reveal the location of a target as far as 500 metres below the ocean surface

It is the latest addition to the country’s expanding deep-sea surveillance programme, and aside from targeting submarines – most operate at a depth of less than 500 metres – it could also be used to collect data on the world’s oceans.

Project Guanlan, meaning “watching the big waves”, was officially launched in May at the Pilot National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology in Qingdao, Shandong. It aims to strengthen China’s surveillance activities in the world’s oceans, according to the laboratory’s website. Continue reading

China military develops robotic submarines to launch a new era of sea power

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Autonomous robotic submarines are expected to be deployed by China in the early 2020s. Graphic: Henry Wong

 

Unmanned AI subs, expected in the 2020s, could challenge the advantage Western naval powers have in strategic waters like the South China Sea

China is developing large, smart and relatively low-cost unmanned submarines that can roam the world’s oceans to perform a wide range of missions, from reconnaissance to mine placement to even suicide attacks against enemy vessels, according to scientists involved in these artificial intelligence (AI) projects.

The autonomous robotic submarines are expected to be deployed in the early 2020s. While not intended to entirely replace human-operated submarines, they will challenge the advantageous position established by Western naval powers after the second world war. The robotic subs are aimed particularly at the United States forces in strategic waters like the South China Sea and western Pacific Ocean, the researchers said. Continue reading

China brings Star Wars to life with ‘laser AK-47’ that can set fire to targets a kilometre away

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Laser guns, such as this one from the Chengdu Hengan Police Equipment Manufacturing Company, are becoming increasingly accurate and powerful. Photo: Handout

 

Handheld weapons that could set fire to targets from long distances are no longer confined to science fiction but a fact of life, according to researchers

China has developed a new portable laser weapon that can zap a target from nearly a kilometre away, according to researchers involved in the project.

The ZKZM-500 laser assault rifle is classified as being “non-lethal” but produces an energy beam that cannot be seen by the naked eye but can pass through windows and cause the “instant carbonisation” of human skin and tissues. Continue reading

Chinese researchers achieve 3D underwater acoustic carpet cloak first with ‘Black Panther’-like features

This is a model and photograph of the 3D underwater acoustic carpet cloak composed of over 700 steel strips. Image courtesy IOA.

 

Recently, a research team led by Prof. YANG Jun from the Institute of Acoustics (IOA) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences designed and fabricated a 3D underwater acoustic carpet cloak (UACC) using transformation acoustics. Like a shield, the carpet cloak is a material shell that can reflect waves as if the waves were reflecting off a planar surface. Hence, the cloaked target becomes undetectable to underwater detection instruments like sonar. Continue reading

Start your engines … is China getting ready to mass-produce hypersonic vehicles?

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A screen capture from a video of a hypersonic vehicle using the combined cycle engine under development at China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. Source: CCTV

 

Plans are on the drawing board in China for an engine plant that could power low-cost planes or spacecraft capable of travelling five times faster than the speed of sound

China is drawing up plans for an aerospace engine plant that would pave the way for the mass production of “hypersonic” planes or spacecraft capable of travelling at more than five times the speed of sound, boosting the country’s competitiveness in defence, space, business and other sectors, according to scientists familiar with the project.

The plant that would be built in Hefei, in China’s eastern Anhui province, could give the country an edge over the United States and Russia in the race to achieve large-scale applications of hypersonic technology, the scientists said.

Hefei deputy mayor Wang Wensong led a delegation to the Institute of Mechanics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing last month to discuss the project’s roll-out, according to a statement on the institute’s website.  Continue reading

China Plans Base in South China Sea to Launch Deep-Diving Drones

Further militarization under the guise of ‘science’:

 

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Just after the likely next head of US Pacific Command told Congress China’s undersea warfare capability is one of the most pressing threats to the US, a new report says Beijing is establishing another base in the South China Sea for deploying manned and unmanned submersible vehicles.

The base would be located in Sanya, a city on the southern edge of China’s Hainan island, Asia Times reported Friday. Continue reading

China’s plan to use artificial intelligence to boost the thinking skills of nuclear submarine commanders

Credits: SCMP

 

Equipping nuclear submarines with AI would give China an upper hand in undersea battles while pushing applications of the technology to a new level

China is working to update the rugged old computer systems on nuclear submarines with artificial intelligence to enhance the potential thinking skills of commanding officers, a senior scientist involved with the programme told the South China Morning Post.

A submarine with AI-augmented brainpower not only would give China’s large navy an upper hand in battle under the world’s oceans but would push applications of AI technology to a new level, according to the researcher, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the project’s sensitivity.

“Though a submarine has enormous power of destruction, its brain is actually quite small,” the researcher said. Continue reading

China builds world’s fastest wind tunnel to test weapons that could strike US within 14 minutes

The JF-12 hypersonic wind tunnel near Beijing is able to replicate hypersonic flight conditions. Photo: SCMP

 

Researchers want new facility to be up and running by 2020 as race to develop hypersonic technology intensifies

China is building the world’s fastest wind tunnel to simulate hypersonic flight at speeds of up to 12 kilometres per second.

A hypersonic vehicle flying at this speed from China could reach the west coast of the United States in less than 14 minutes.

Zhao Wei, a senior scientist working on the project, said researchers aimed to have the facility up and running by around 2020 to meet the pressing demand of China’s hypersonic weapon development programme.

Continue reading

China Reveals Images of New Hypersonic Strike Aircraft

 

Ultra high-speed vehicles shown for first time on state-run television

China has disclosed the first images of secret hypersonic strike aircraft that are being developed to deliver nuclear warheads through U.S. missile defenses. State-run CCTV on Oct. 8 broadcast images of four different vehicles or missiles that U.S. intelligence agencies believe are mockups of hypersonic strike vehicles, including one known as DF-ZF.

It is the first time images of the hypersonic aircraft were made public. Continue reading

Does China’s deep-sea tech upgrade point to submarine signals network under Pacific?

Analysts say PLA military chiefs might already be using their version of a network of sensors and communications technology deep under the sea to make contact with submarine commanders operating far from home. Photo: AFP

 

China has announced plans to upgrade a civilian network of ­sensors and communications technology deep in the Western Pacific that it says is used in scientific research.

But analysts said the PLA could already be using a military-grade version of the communications technology to contact submarines operating far from base.

Buoys anchored between 400 and 500 metres beneath the surface of the Western Pacific would be upgraded this year, state media quoted scientists involved in the project as saying. Continue reading

Is China’s latest space mission a step towards PLA tracking of nuclear submarines?

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The cold atomic clock that has been placed into orbit aboard the Tiangong-2 space laboratory. Photo: Chinese Academy of Sciences

 

Chinese scientists are working on a space-based device that could track gravitational ripples produced by submerged submarines

Chinese astronauts have played many roles in space, including teacher, mechanic and tourist.

But all the science classes, repair missions and spacewalk flag-waving have tended to obscure the fact that they are, first and foremost, members of the People’s Liberation Army.

China’s manned space programme has so far given its astronauts few opportunities to fulfil [sic] military roles, but that will all change when its space station is completed in the next six years.

Continue reading

Chinese military could soon disable sensors on enemy missiles using suitcase-sized device after ‘groundbreaking’ study on ultrafast lasers

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The Chinese destroyer Wuhan leads a fleet of naval ships ahead of a joint exercise with Russia in the Sea of Japan. At present, high-frequency lasers used to tackle missiles are the size of huge containers. Photo: AP

 

A breakthrough in laser technology may give the Chinese military the ability to blind the sensors on enemy missiles or even satellites using a portable device the size of a suitcase, rather than the large container-sized version typically found on warships.

A research team led by Professor Li Zhiyuan with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Physics reported that they had reduced the sophisticated mechanism that generates a high-frequency laser down to a single piece of crystal.

This means the huge ultrafast laser generator that is used to render heat-seeking missiles useless, and which can be found on warships today, could be shrunk to the size of hand baggage and mounted on aircraft, tanks or even soldiers. Continue reading

New Chinese electromagnetic weapon may paralyze US air defense: expert

The development of an X-ray pulse generator by the Xi’an Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences has attracted the attention of Vassily Kashin, a expert at Russia’s Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, according to Moscow-based Sputinks News. Continue reading

China achieves breakthrough in pulse weapons technology

China has achieved a technological breakthrough that could help introduce pulse weapons to the People’s Liberation Army’s arsenal, reports the Global Times, a tabloid under the auspices of the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily.

According to the report, the Xian Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has successfully developed a third-generation X-ray pulsar simulation source. The technology, which can create an X-ray pulsar source in X-ray tubes to generate arbitrary waveform pulses, officially passed evaluation tests on Jan. 17. Continue reading

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