Advanced Chinese weaponry paraded through Tiananmen Square last October celebrating the 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule sent a clear message to the world that Beijing has no intention to cede critical technological military leadership to America or any other country.
As Elsa Kania, a research fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, observed in The Wall Street Journal, "This parade illustrates the People’s Liberation Army’s embrace of unmanned operations as critical elements of future combat across all domains of warfare."
Although China is believed to quantitatively lag far behind the U.S. in conventional weaponry, the country is demonstrating clear intentions and capabilities to project ominous power far from its shores through a broad range of high-tech innovations, many of which they continue to steal from us.
Stealthy Aerial Drones:
The PLA’s technological power parade offered the first public glimpse of its "GongJI-11 Stealth Combat Aerial Drone" which Chinese state media characterized as the final version of an earlier "Sharp Sword" model.
Featuring a wing design unsurprisingly similar to that of an American B-2 bomber, the new drone’s stealth design can potentially enable it to sneak undetected into enemy-controlled airspace and to fire missiles at targets beyond the reach of manned combat aircraft. Such capabilities can be expected to take on special strategic importance in future conflicts over the South China Sea, Taiwan, or points beyond.
Underwater Drones and Ultra -High-Speed Torpedoes:
Displayed for the first time at the October warfare spectacular were a pair of unmanned underwater vehicles, (or UUVs) bearing "HSU001" identification side markings which reportedly resembled the extra-large "Orca" submersible that Boeing is building for the U.S. Navy.
Sets of sensors mounted to the UUVs suggest capabilities to track foreign naval vessels, either to protect Chinese nuclear missile submarines, or to monitor other countries’ naval operations farther afield.
Colin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, told the Wall Street Journal that, "The rolling out of this large UUV is significant as only a few major powers have managed such programs."
As I previously reported in my May 2016 column, both China and Russia had demonstrated hypersonic vehicles capable of rapidly delivering nuclear warheads to any locations in the world, with no present or near-term interception defenses.
China conducted its seventh successful hypersonic vehicle test just three days after Russia demonstrated its second . . . a 3M22 Zircon hypersonic glider launched atop a SS-19 ballistic missile from a base near the Kazakhstan border.
Beijing’s DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle fired from the Shanxi Province Wuzhai launch center in central China has reportedly reached speeds over 7,000 miles per hour. The Congressional Sino-U.S. Economic and Security Review Commission reports that the program is "progressing rapidly," and that a new strike weapon could be deployed by 2020.
A powered Chinese version (rather than glider) under development may be fielded by 2025.
China’s October parade rolled that strike weapon out for public debut. Its DF-17 is believed to be the first operational missile capable of deploying a hypersonic glide vehicle that can travel at five times the speed of sound anywhere in the world.
Once launched, the hypersonic gliders can rapidly change direction as needed to evade current missile defense systems.
The U.S. Pentagon has identified hypersonic missiles and systems to defend against them as among its highest priorities.
The Lockheed Martin Corp. expects to test flight its first prototype missiles in 2020.
Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles:
Beijing’s biggest piece of weaponry on October parade display, its DF-41, is a road-mobile ICBM with an advertised 7,500 mile range which allows it to conduct a nuclear strike on any part of the U.S. The missile is designed to carry multiple re-entry vehicles that can confuse and evade missile defense systems.
Ankit Panda at the Federation of American Scientists told The Wall Street Journal that, "this system has long been known, but never seen."
Andrew Erickson, an expert on the Chinese military at the U.S. Naval War College, observed that, "The DF-41 has clearly been designed and deployed with deterring the United States in mind."
"China is now, in some spheres of military technology, ahead of any Western nation," said Sam Roggeveen, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney.
So finally, does China have better scientists and engineers than the United States?
No, but they do have a couple of other really big advantages.
First, unlike in America, any public outcry regarding how Communist Party leaders appropriate and spend money for military or any other purposes is likely to only be heard only briefly and once.
They also save lots of money and time by not having to develop technology when stealing it from us is so much cheaper and faster. Perhaps that’s their most dangerous weapon of all.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of several books, including “The Weaponization of AI and the Internet: How Global Networks of Infotech Overlords are Expanding Their Control Over Our Lives” (2019), "Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity" (2019), "Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations" (2018), "Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful” (2017), "Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self" (2016), "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax” (2011). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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