The Chinese military is continuing to develop an anti-satellite capability in order to counter superior U.S. and Western reconnaissance technology, according to one organization that monitors Beijing’s military and foreign-policy initiatives.
The American Foreign Policy Council said Thursday that the People’s Liberation Army is working on a four-step plan that will utilize direct and indirect means of defeating American surveillance satellites.
Quoting Chinese press sources, AFPC said the PLA “describes its methods to counter satellite reconnaissance in four words: dodging, changing, deceiving and counteroffensive.”
“Dodging,” the report explained, means evading satellites by using deception. “A satellite can only make such reconnaissance twice [a day] for about 10 minutes each time,” said the report. If troops or equipment dodge the satellite during those 10-minute windows, they’ve thwarted the reconnaissance attempt.
“Changing” means altering the operations of ground troops “to reduce the effectiveness of satellite reconnaissance.”
According to the report, the PLA says “deceiving” means changing the appearance of targets. “Although reconnaissance satellites have a certain ‘vision,’ the ground troops can make them ‘useless’ through good camouflage and concealment,” the report said.
Serb troops used this tactic during the 1999 78-day bombing campaign to fool U.S. planes into striking tanks that had already been destroyed.
Finally, the report said, the Chinese military plans to use “counteroffensive” techniques employing a range of new weapons, “including laser weapons, microwave weapons and particle beam weapons,” to “destroy satellite equipment or the body.”
China has a long history of developing laser weapons and other “asymmetrical” means of defeating U.S. military capabilities.
In fact, Beijing’s effort to develop laser technology encompasses over “10,000 personnel – including 3,000 engineers in 300 scientific research organizations – with nearly 40 percent of China’s laser research and development devoted to military applications,” according to Mark Stokes, a military author specializing in Chinese weapons development.
Earlier reports say China’s anti-satellite capability centers on “parasitic satellites” – mini-satellites designed to “stick” to the body of an enemy satellite, which could then be activated during times of war or national emergency for the purpose of jamming or destroying the enemy’s orbiter.
Such weapons could be used against single or constellation satellites; constellations are groups of satellites linked together to provide global, or near-global, coverage.
The U.S. military and American communications companies use constellations.