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Subject: China's Recent Improvements in Space-based Maritime Surveillance
warpig    4/21/2010 12:30:31 PM
I know this is a long article. I've inserted rows of bracket characters to set off the part in the middle that I consider the most important section. At least read that much, the part attributed to Professor Erickson. I consider the single most important piece of information to be the part about the "Yaogan 9A, 9B, and 9C". I wonder where he got his information from regarding the Yaogan 9 launch being "a payload of three smaller formation-flying satellites"? Now why in the world do you suppose someone might want to deploy three satellites together in formation into Earth orbit, and how might that benefit the Chinese in maritime surveillance? Gee, what benefit could there possibly be to having three sensors positioned in a known relationship to each other? ;-) ================================================== China's navy cruises into Pacific ascendancy By Peter J Brown In mid-April, two Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (MSDF) destroyers, the Choukai and Suzunami, unexpectedly encountered several Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warships, including a pair of submarines and eight destroyers, approximately 140 kilometers west-southwest of Okinawa near the Nansei (Ryukyu) Islands. The Chinese warships were heading out of the East China Sea and into the Western Pacific. They passed north of Miyako Island - the northernmost island in the Nansei group - through the Miyako Strait and then proceeded to head southeast. They were there to practice anti-submarine warfare, underway refueling and helicopter flight training, to name a few of the procedures. During one PLAN helicopter flight, the Suzunami was subjected to a close encounter which prompted a formal protest by Japan's SDF Joint Staff Office. The presence of the PLAN subs also sparked a protest. Japan's Defense Minister Kitazawa Toshimi was upset that so many Chinese warships had sailed so near to Japan on their way to the western Pacific Ocean without any prior notification by China. [1] Kitazawa said nothing about whether or not any of the five new Chinese earth observation/military reconnaissance satellites launched since late 2009 were engaged in assisting the PLAN warships during their unannounced passage. Gary Li, a PLA specialist at the London-based Institute of International and Strategic Studies (IISS) said the PLAN's actions in this instance were very significant. Li describes the incident as unprecedented and an attempt by China to "send a very clear message to the region that it should be prepared to see a China unafraid to really test its reach and move into new areas". [2] Drew Thompson, director of China Studies at The Nixon Center in Washington, DC, did not agree with Li, adding that the recent PLAN "blue water" activity off Japan did not prove that the PLAN has entered a disturbing new phase in its development. "Calling this a new phase is overly dramatic. The PLA has been working for a long time on expanding their ability to operate farther from their shores and conduct joint operations closely coordinating air, land and sea platforms," said Thompson. "These PLAN exercises certainly demonstrate expanded capabilities, or at least the willingness to exercise the hardware they have more vigorously, but it should be viewed as part of a continuum rather than a departure from a previous period of development." Certainly, it is not getting any easier for the US and the rest of Asia to determine where exactly China is heading and what China's exact intentions are. "Reports of a transit by the PLAN forces close to Okinawa only remind US allies in Japan and throughout the Asia-Pacific, that China's future course is unclear," said Abraham Denmark, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, DC. "It is important to retain a military hedge against the possibility that China could become confrontational and militarily aggressive." The PLAN has long been charged with two primary tasks: defending the mainland and operations related to a Taiwan contingency, which would primarily involve anti-access/area denial operations in the Western Pacific, according to Denmark. This exercise may be further evidence of the growing emphasis placed by the PLAN on protecting vital so-called "Sea Lines of Communication" (SLOCs). Chinese President Hu Jintao has referred to this role as one of the PLA's "new historic missions". "China's leaders have slowly come to recognize that its continued economic development relies on access to foreign resources and markets. For example, 80% of China's oil imports flow through the Strait of Malacca, yet the PLAN currently does not have the capability to protect Chinese vessels far from home," said Denmark. "This has made China's military leaders begin to examine a third role for the PLAN, which would entail SLOC protection." Richard Fisher, senior fellow at the Washington, DC
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Hamilcar    DF-21 missile guidance in descent phase.   4/21/2010 12:59:49 PM
Especially for a maneuvering RV.
A RORSAT formation or optical satellite constellation that can take a stereo look-down view of the intended target wake can determine a track and velocity well enough to make IRBM shots possible and with a GPS constellation augment can provide telemetered steering imputs to an RV kill-body. If those damned things can also irradiate the target for a SARH guidance solution, then we are in BIG trouble. I don't see this, yet, as that would take a HUGE bird as a propagator as well as looker. A formation constellation of such birds would be rather obvious (Like Lacrosse, only more so.).      

The PRC bandits just weaponized space in violation of treaty?

All bets are OFF.
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warpig       4/21/2010 1:17:25 PM
While I suppose that's possible, I don't think they have the throw-weight or even just sheer size to get three satellites that heavy and big into orbit on the same booster.  No, I think we're talking about three small satellites.  If they are only sensors for receiving data, then they don't need to be huge with big heavy power supplies (at least, not *as* big and heavy).  But what sort of sensors benefit from having three in a known arrangement, as in what is the value added from that sort of infomation?
Hint:  What might we call a formation of three of anything?  ;-)
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Hamilcar    We might call that NOSS   4/21/2010 2:01:43 PM
Naval Ocean Surveillance System.
And that uses RDF and interferometry to provide targeting velocity and track direction components through signal time delay offset techniques.
That is how OTH submarine or surface ship launched cruise missile targeting works for anti-ship strikes.  It is fairly useless for precision IRBM guidance, as it generates a just good enough smear to get a Tomahawk into the hunting search box where its own on-board sensors can work a grid to endgame, so I don't know what the PRC bandits would see with that for a strategic missile. Unless we are totally stupid, we've worked out defenses against the corresponding Russian system decades ago.

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warpig       4/21/2010 2:34:16 PM
You are down-playing it too much.  First off, if it wasn't useful, we wouldn't have supposedly launched dozens of them over the years.  Second, it has more use than just trying to provide target-quality tracking.  It can provide a source of surveillance data with general geolocation and identification of the type of ship over the horizon from friendly ships and over a broad area.  That is always a good thing.  Third, it can also provide target identification through association of specific emitters to types of naval platforms, which can be combined with other sources of target quality data such as OTH radar that does not in itself identify the target.  Fourth, I consider it debatable whether or not it can achieve accuracies sufficient to guide an ASBM close enough to be able to acquire and engage the target, but even if it can't yet there's always the future to worry about.  Fifth, the Chinese do have anti-ship cruise missiles as well, and if this sort of satellite was supposedly good enough for Tomahawk and/or Harpoon then it may now or in the future be good enough for Chinese ASCMs, too.
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