China's military space prowess flagged in new DoD report.

China’s military space prowess flagged in new DoD report.

The U.S. Department of Defense has released its annual report to Congress on military and security developments in China. Parts of the report deal with that country’s military space and space industry capabilities.

Noted in the report, for example, are:


Development of a second Chinese responsive space launch vehicle dubbed the Long March 11 (LM-11). The LM-11 will provide China with “a vehicle to rapidly enter space and meet the emergency launching demand in case of disasters and contingencies,” and could be launched as early as 2014 and no later than 2016.

In parallel, China is developing a multi-dimensional program to improve its capabilities to limit or prevent the use of space-based assets by adversaries during times of crisis or conflict.


China launched five new remote sensing satellites in 2013, which can perform both civil and military applications. China also launched one communications satellite, four experimental small satellites, one meteorological satellite, and one manned space mission.


China continues to develop the Long March-5, designed for lifting heavy payloads into space. The LM-5 will more than double the size of payloads China may place into geosynchronous orbits. More than just a single heavy-lift launch vehicle, the LM-5 has propulsion technologies that are reconfigurable to produce the LM-6 light-lift- and LM-7 medium-lift launch vehicles.

The new Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, designed to host these new launch vehicles, is expected to be complete in time for the first LM-7 launch in late-2014. The first LM-5 launch, delayed by recent manufacturing difficulties, is expected no sooner than 2015.

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China’s space launch vehicle industry is expanding to support satellite launch services and the manned space program. The majority of China’s missile programs, including its ballistic and cruise missile systems, is comparable to other international top-tier producers, while its surface-to-air missile systems lag behind global leaders. China’s missile industry modernization efforts have positioned it well for the foreseeable future.


People’s Liberation Army (PLA) writings emphasize the necessity of “destroying, damaging, and interfering with the enemy’s reconnaissance … and communications satellites,” suggesting that such systems, as well as navigation and early warning satellites, could be among the targets of attacks designed to “blind and deafen the enemy.”


The PLA is acquiring a range of technologies to improve China’s space and counterspace capabilities. In addition to directed energy weapons and satellite jammers, China demonstrated a direct-ascent kinetic kill capability against satellites in low Earth orbit when it destroyed the defunct Chinese FY-1C weather satellite during a test in January 2007.


China plans to continue to increase its on-orbit constellation with the launch of 100 satellites through 2015. The future launches will include imaging, remote sensing, navigation, communication, and scientific satellites, as well as manned spacecraft.


In a special topic section of the report, China’s reconnaissance satellites are detailed. China has developed a large constellation of imaging and remote sensing satellites. These satellites can support military objectives by providing situational awareness of foreign military force deployments, critical infrastructure, and targets of political significance.

To read the full report, go to:

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