Nuclear strike from space: what threatens China’s development – news from Ukraine, Technology

The Pentagon is concerned about another threat posed by Russia and China, and this time it’s space. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin holds a secret meeting in the Pentagon on September 6-7 on the topic of space weapons that the Russian Federation and China may develop. The reasons for this discussion are known – the 2021 test of Russian anti-satellite weapons and the Chinese orbital bombardment system.

The deployment of space-to-ground weapons complicates the work of missile defense and requires the creation of a new launch warning system. That is what the meeting in the Pentagon is about.

Liga.Tech found out what an orbital weapon is and what its development is bordered by.

Orbital bombardment

In March 2022, the US Intelligence Community’s annual Threat Assessment Report spoke of Beijing’s development of ground-based and space-based anti-satellite weapons. But there is no mention of FOBS, the fractional orbital bombardment system discussed at the September Pentagon meeting.

FOBS provides for the launch of a nuclear warhead into low Earth orbit, which makes an incomplete rotation and hits the target on the Earth’s surface. Such a system made it impossible to determine the location of the defeat, as it “confuses” the tracking systems with orbital flight.

The Soviet Union had a similar program – its goal was to bypass the US early warning system so that the states could not quickly “see” a Soviet nuclear missile. This program ended after the signing of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty in 1979. In 1983, the R-36orb orbital missiles were decommissioned.

Chinese trials

Last year, the media reported on a test by China of a hypersonic system that would put a gliding nuclear warhead into orbit to further destroy ground targets. Meanwhile, China denied these tests.

Timothy Wright, an analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, believes that it is debatable whether China would gain a strategic advantage if such a system were developed. In his opinion, it is not clear why China is developing space weapons, and not focusing on creating a long-range intercontinental missile like the Russian Sarmat. Such a missile to defeat the US could go around the South Pole.

Details of last year’s tests are still unknown. Financial Times sources, who wrote about the tests, noted that the warhead, when it hit an unknown location, was mistaken by “several tens of miles.” That is, satellite guidance is needed to precisely hit the target. Wright argues that US radar coverage in the Southern Hemisphere for early attack warning and the US ability to develop more powerful missile interception systems reduce China’s space weapons advantage.

What threatens the new space weapon

Partial-orbital bombardment, that is, a temporary exit to outer space before inflicting a defeat, can be carried out by various carriers, said Andriy Kolesnik, a Ukrainian independent expert on space issues.

The most developed method, according to the expert, is a flight along a ballistic trajectory with intercontinental ballistic missiles. Since they learned to deal with such a threat quickly enough, later weapons were created, which during the flight stage are divided into many separate blocks with an independent control system for destruction. And they also learned to resist, albeit with great difficulty.

The hypersonic carriers that China has tested have similar functional characteristics, but their speed and maneuverability are an order of magnitude superior to their “predecessors”, and also allow you to approach the enemy from a side that he does not expect.

According to Andrei Kolesnik, Chinese tests of orbital weapons over the South Pole are a vivid example of “the unpredictability of these weapons”. The world needs to be restructured or create a system to protect against such a threat.

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