A number of US experts in the area of strategic arms based on the information received from the US intelligence community have announced that China is getting ready for the third testing of its system of anti-satellite weapons. The first two sets of testing were performed in 2007 and 2010 on the same day – January 11, which leads one to believe that this trend will continue this time as well.
It is not known what signs of the preparation for the testing have been registered by the American intelligence. But according to Vasily Kashin, an expert at the Russian Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, the fact of the existence in China of a program to develop anti-satellite weapons raises no doubt.
In the course of 2007 testing, China managed to destroy at the altitude of 850 km its own meteorological satellite that had exceeded its service life. The 2010 testing apparently did not result in any hitting of real targets, but was aimed at launching an intercepting rocket to a reference point in the orbit.
Vasily Kashin points out that one can presume that China used the intercepting rocket KT-1 in both cases. The Chinese plan to use it both as a component of the strategic anti-satellite defense system and as a weapon against scouting enemy satellites in low orbits.
This time a different and more powerful system is involved. According to previously published evaluations, American military specialists assume that the project called DN-2 is meant for destroying satellites in high geostationary orbits (about 20 000 km). The creation of such a system would make China the only country in the world capable of successfully hitting satellites of global positioning systems, such as the American GPS.
Taking into account the high dependence of the US Air Force, the Navy and many systems of weapons guiding, on the GPS signal, targeting such a system can become an effective way of neutralizing the military superiority of the USA.
Similar to the USA, Russia is developing its own anti-satellite defense programs that are related to the missile defense programs.
For example, it is anticipated that the new Russian rocket complex S-500 will be capable of hitting targets in the near space. There is also research work being done in the area of modern laser systems of satellite defense.
According to Vasily Kashin, the Chinese system, if successfully tested, could open a new chapter in the arms race in space and would require large scale and expensive counter measures on the part of the US. It is obvious that it would be necessary to increase the survivability and reliability of the existing system of global positioning as well as develop methods and ways of locating the Chinese systems of anti-satellite weapons and neutralizing them before they are put into operation. It would be the second example of China developing a radically new type of rocket weapons capable of changing the rules of the game in the military sphere. The ballistic anti-vessel rocket DF-21D was the first system of this kind. At the same time, it is obvious that the testing would cause an extremely negative political reaction on the part of the US and would have long-term consequences for the China-US relations, stresses Vasily Kashin, an expert of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.