Thu, Oct 18, 2012 - Page 1 News List

China to test new anti-satellite weapon: report

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

China could soon test a new anti-satellite weapon that could pose a threat to Taiwan’s defense capabilities, a US media report said.

According to US intelligence sources, the Dong Ning-2 anti-satellite missile — potentially able to destroy satellites in high-Earth or geosynchronous orbit — will be ready for testing next month.

If it proves successful, the missile could knock out the US satellites that would provide early warning of an attack on Taiwan and other satellites used to conduct defense operations.

The Washington Free Beacon, a politically conservative Web site, reported on Tuesday that tests were being delayed “to avoid upsetting” US President Barack Obama’s re-election bid.

“China’s delay in conducting the test until after the Nov. 6 election is a sign Beijing wants to help Obama’s re-election campaign — it means they’d rather have him re-elected,” a US official familiar with the intelligence reports was quoted as saying.

Intelligence and military sources reached by the Taipei Times on Tuesday refused to confirm or deny the reported anti-satellite development.

“The missile is described by intelligence agencies as a high-earth orbit interceptor designed to destroy satellites by ramming them at high speeds,” the report said.

China has been building an anti-satellite capability for more than 10 years, but testing a high-earth orbit anti-satellite missile would represent a “major advance.”

Military communication and navigation satellites fly at high-earth orbits of 19,300km to 35,410km from Earth.

It is not known how the test will be conducted.

“Defense officials have said that with as few as 24 anti-satellite missiles, China could severely weaken US military operations by disrupting global communications and military logistics as well as by limiting celestial navigation systems used by high-technology weapons,” the report said.

A Department of State-Pentagon report to Congress earlier this year said that Chinese anti-satellite weapons had “significant implications” for anti-access and area-denial efforts against the US in Taiwan Strait contingencies.

It said the weapons were being developed to force the US military out of Asian waters and make it more difficult for US forces to get into the region to defend Taiwan.

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