Friday, 30 December 2011

New satellites to extend China's military reach



A float with a model featuring satellite is displayed during a  parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, in Beijing October 1, 2009.   REUTERS/David Gray
China this week reached a milestone in its drive to master the military use of space with the launch of trials for its Bedouin satellite global positioning network, a move that will bring it one step closer to matching U.S. space capabilities.


 A float with a model featuring satellite is displayed during a  parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, in Beijing October 1, 2009.   REUTERS/David Gray




If Beijing can successfully deploy the full 35 satellites planned for the Beidou network on schedule by 2020, its military will be free of its current dependence for navigation on the U.S. global positioning network (GPS) signals and Russia's similar GLONASS system.

And, unlike the less accurate civilian versions of GPS and GLONASS available to the People's Liberation Army (PLA), this network will give China the accuracy to guide missiles, smart munitions and other weapons.
"
This will allow a big jump in the precision attack capability of the PLA," said Andrei Chang, a Hong Kong-based analyst of the Chinese military and editor of Kanwa Asian Defense magazine.

China has launched 10 Beidou satellites and plans to launch six more by the end of next year, according to the China Satellite Navigation Management Office.

Chinese and foreign military experts say the PLA's General Staff Department and General Armaments Department closely coordinate and support all of China's space programs within the sprawling science and aerospace bureaucracy.

As part of this system, the Beidou, or "Big Dipper," network will have an important military role alongside the country's rapidly expanding network of surveillance, imaging and remote sensing satellites.

China routinely denies having military ambitions in space.

Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun Wednesday dismissed fears the Beidou network would pose a military threat, noting that all international satellite navigation systems are designed for dual civilian and military use.

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