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Taiwan to go submersible - fear of China's 'spy' satellites

OWoN:This is how the US maintains its hold over Taiwan.

China will ensure its interests are looked after.

Image: The Times

Chinese spy satellites ‘might threaten navy’

Taipei Times
By William Lowther
2 October 2014

China has launched new spy satellites that might further threaten Taiwanese warships in the case of a military clash, a US expert said.

“Beijing’s looming ability to overwhelm Taiwan’s combat ships is a key reason Washington must help Taipei to obtain submarines,” veteran military analyst Richard Fisher told the Taipei Times.

A Long March-48 rocket was used to launch the Yaogan-21 remote sensing satellite and the Tiantuo-2 experimental satellite on Sept. 8, it was reported this week by Jane’s Defence Weekly.

The rocket was fired from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.

Officially, the satellites are supposed to be used for scientific experiments, natural resource surveys, estimating crop yields and disaster relief.

However, US experts believe the mission of these remote sensing satellites is ocean surveillance.

“The Yaogan-20 electronic intelligence satellite can indeed increase the People’s Liberation Army’s [PLA] ability to find and target large naval ships,” said Fisher, a senior fellow in Asian Military Affairs with Washington-based think tank the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

The PLA is now able to collate optical, radar and electronic signals intelligence (ELINT) satellite data to target ships at sea — capabilities that Russia and the US have had for many years, Fisher said.

“This constellation of satellites will allow the PLA to target Taiwan’s large ships with new anti-ship ballistic missiles in coordination with strike aircraft,” he said.

The satellites will enable Beijing to find Taiwan’s navy at sea and enable fighter planes to target the ships with missiles, he added.

News of the launch comes as the Ministry of National Defense announced that while Taipei still wants to buy new submarines from the US, continuing delays have caused the nation to initiate a program to build four diesel-electric attack submarines for a total budget of about NT$150 billion (US$4.9 billion).

“The nation will pursue both foreign procurement and domestic building plans in tandem,” ministry spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said.

“We welcome the US and other free, democratic counties to collaborate with us to advance our indigenous submarine-building program,” he said.

Even the most sophisticated and modern satellites have great difficulty locating submarines at sea, particularly if the vessels are in deep water.

Jane’s Defence Weekly said the latest Chinese satellite launch was one of a series to set up a grouping of spy vehicles that could detect surface ships’ radar emissions and determine their location through triangulation.

“Tiantuo-2 carries four video cameras capable of streaming real-time data on moving objects,” the magazine said.

It reported there was speculation the system would be capable of tracking objects on the Earth’s surface using real-time ground-controlled directional alignment of the cameras.

“This is the golden age for China’s space program,” senior analyst and China Project Manager for the Union of Concerned Scientists Gregory Kulacki said in a recent interview.

“China invests more in space. They have a younger, larger, more highly motivated cadre of space professionals focused on clear objectives,” Kulacki said.


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