Missile Defense Tests

Published on Author kloster

In a new round of testing, both the United States and China have confirmed successful launches of new anti-ballistic testing systems and long-range anti-missile interceptors. The test is China’s second successful launch of similar magnitude; the other being was in January of 2010. The Defense ministry in China claims the tests are “defensive in nature and target no other country.” Many believe that the actions are directly related to Beijing’s secret anti-satellite weapons program, under which in 2007 the country destroyed a Chinese weather satellite, a move that received much criticism in the international community.

While the exact vehicle has not yet been determined, it is believed that the Chinese used an SC-19 ASAT missile modified warhead. Pentagon spokeswoman Maj. Catherine Wilkinson said, “We carefully monitor China’s military developments and urge China to exhibit greater transparency regarding its capabilities and intentions. Military-to-military dialogues between the United States and China featuring open and substantive discussions between our armed forces will help us improve mutual understanding, build trust, and reduce the risk of misperception and miscalculations.”

Some claim the Chinese are continuing the race to weaponize space with launches such as this.  With consistent 9-figure [unit? RMB?] defense spending over the last decade, they may be right…

5 Responses to Missile Defense Tests

  1. Have definitely seen several sources that claim that launches such as these are an attempt by China to continue the race to weaponize space. The 2010 launch certainly did not help the Chinese reputation, and only raised international concern. A consistent 9 figure spending on defense, however, is something we are all familiar with, and they are certainly within their right to develop technology to defend their country. It does seem that the best situation that can come of this is to have a more pronounced and developed relationship of disclosure between the US and China.

  2. The intensified development of ABM technology in East Asia is troubling, especially in space, which remains the only explored frontier of human exploration that has yet to be militarized on a large scale. However, the most troubling aspect of missile defense is that its success is still relatively limited; neither the Russian nor the American system has shown the ability to consistently destroy an incoming ballistic missile. The main deterrent for a nuclear power, declared or otherwise, is still the retaliatory capability of the attacked nation, the mutually assured destruction of the Cold War. Could this signal growing unease with the state of the North Korean nuclear program?

  3. Chinese increased militarization is most definitely a fear of many powers including the United States, Russia, Japan, and other eminent countries of the world. Chinese transparency however is not just a concern in their defense programs but in their economy, politics and other inherent aspects of their country. In order to ease tension, increase relations, and improve their world standing they will need to be more open to a more modern view of world relations. Hopefully in the future their inconspicuous behavior will be conducive to repercussions.

  4. This may also be a show of strength as relations remain tense with Japan. Yesterday, the Chinese Defense Ministry announced the navy would carry out deep-water training exercises in the Pacific. China has been attempting to build a navy and just completed its first aircraft carrier last year. The two countries are in the midst of a dispute over islands in the East China Sea.

    Here’s the link to the AP story: China Announces Naval Exercise Amid Japan Tensions

  5. Remember that the US accounts for (from memory) 40% of global military expenditures, and that (perhaps for lack of any realistic alternative) we conduct war games with the Chinese as the enemy. I don’t know the current status of exchanges, but at one time we did have mid-level [one-star general] exchanges in a bid to increase “transparency” (as the issue cuts both ways). There is also joint participation in the ASEAN Regional Forum (we and China are observers). However, compared to Europe, there is a smaller set of institutions for “confidence building measures” (CBMs), and both the US and China have a legacy of concern with Russia, which was viewed as a direct threat, than with each other.

    China also began the reform era with a military that was large in numbers but lacking in modern arms, in training, and professionalism; the military grew its own food….and while logistic are certainly important for war, that’s going a bit too far! That makes it difficult to distinguish (overdue) modernization from (belligerent) expansion. Of course China doesn’t publish its military budget, but we also obfuscate things on our end.

    Cynically, this situation is not unwelcome by either side’s military-industrial complex, as it provides room to lobby for budgets and enhance status if not budgets and thus career opportunities.

    Finally, missile defense technologies are clearly not very far along on the ballistic side, and can likely be countered on several dimensions. In contrast, they are operational on the theater defense level, and deployed in NE Asia (including US Aegis-class ships). Miniaturizing nuclear warheads (North Korea) is not so straightforward, putting them on an ICBM that can accurately deliver them is harder still. But nuclear weapons aren’t the only thing Pyongyang could put on a rocket, and it’s a lot easier to hit Beijing (or US bases in Okinawa, Japan) than to lob them across the Pacific. Plus you can see hills in North Korea from Seoul, it and several other cities are in artillery range.