Earlier this year, China
launched a military communications satellite, the first of several that will
support a battlefield Internet capability for the Chinese military. The U.S.
first tested that concept during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. There, "Blue Force
Tracker" GPS/satellite telephone devices were placed in thousands of combat
vehicles. Anyone with a laptop, the right software and access codes could then
see where everyone was. This hasty (all the stuff was still in development)
experiment was a huge success, and the United States has proceeded to add more
of this capability. The Chinese have noticed, and were developing crude
prototypes of American devices even before the Iraq invasion.
But this month, with the special communications
satellite up there, Chinese troops are testing the "Qu Dian System." This is
basically a satellite based command and control system, that enables all
commanders hooked up with it, to see what everyone else is up to. Eventually,
individual soldiers will carry satellite phone type communicators, that will report
their status, and any other useful information, to commanders and fellow
soldiers. China has been carefully monitoring American developments in this
area, and don't want to be left behind.