China Building Satellite-Busting
Laser Weapons
By Simon Beck (NY)
Source: Inside China Today
From Gerry Lovell <>
China is developing anti-satellite laser technology which could seriously threaten American military operations, according to the US Defence Department.
The PLA is said to be building up ASATS (Anti-Satellite Simulation) lasers, which can destroy a satellite in orbit, as part of its strategy to develop hi-tech, 21st-century weaponry.
A report prepared by the Pentagon for Congress is likely to raise concerns in Washington that American warfare capabilities, which depend heavily on battlefield communications via satellites, may be vulnerable to such technology on the mainland.
The Pentagon says it does not possess its own ASATS weapons and gave up developing the technology some years ago.
Also at risk from laser attack would be the US intelligence agencies' networks of spy satellites, central to gathering information on military and nuclear developments in China and other nations.
The report, quoted by the Washington Times, said: "China already may possess the capability to damage, under specific conditions, optical sensors on satellites that are very vulnerable to lasers.
"Given China's current level of interest in laser technology, it is reasonable to assume Beijing would develop a weapon that could destroy satellites in the future," the paper said.
The report warned that the developments suggested Beijing was looking for ways to neutralise future adversaries' forces using "information warfare" - attacks on computer and satellite communications systems.
Congress has warned for some time that, as the leader in state-of-the art warfare communications systems, the United States military has the most to lose from information warfare.
The newspaper said the Pentagon tested the vulnerability of satellites last year by firing high-powered lasers into space. They managed to damage the sensors on one satellite.
The report also predicted China would launch its first manned space flight next year. An improved space programme would contribute greatly to the modernisation of the mainland's military capabilities, it said.