New Delhi: India’s successful anti-satellite (ASAT) missile test on 26 March, labelled Mission Shakti, made it a member of an exclusive club of four nations with such capabilities.
Days before India’s ASAT test, ThePrint reported that China has recently made numerous forays in space denial weapons, and also deployed systems that can dazzle, disable or destroy satellites. This has even prompted the US government to take action to harden its infrastructure against the EMP or electromagnetic pulse threat from China.
Earlier this month, Jane’s Defence Weekly reported a Chinese naval platform testing laser weapons, albeit of a lower intensity. Now, satellite imagery accessed by ThePrint shows China has indeed moved on to testing and weaponising its naval platforms for space denial.
China previously had two types of icebreakers for clearing ice around the Yellow Sea and Bohai Sea areas — the Type 071 Yanha class and the Type 210 Yanbing class, pennant numbers 721, 722, 519 and 723. The Haibing ship 721 is now in reserve, 722 is retired, 519 is active and 723 has been converted to serve the China Marine Surveillance as ‘Haijian 111’.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy felt a strong need to clear ice, especially for safe movement of nuclear submarines to and from Huludao during winters. Therefore, China constructed new Type 272 polar icebreakers named ‘Haibing 722’ and ‘Haibing 723’, each with a displacement of 4,860 tons, a length of 104m and a beam of 19m, which could easily cut TC6 grade one-metre-thick ice.
The two new icebreakers have been subordinated to Huludao Naval Test and Research Base with another role — trial ships for assisting in weapons and electronics trials.
They have been observed conducting tests and trials for the PLAN’s latest electronic equipment, especially during the summer months.
The older Type 71 Yanha class Haibing 721, now supposedly in reserve, has also been observed carrying out certain tests of electronic equipment on board.
Pulse generator tests
The most recent satellite images of Lvshunkou, dated 17 March, show that one of the new icebreaker ships is testing a non-nuclear pulse generator. These types of non-nuclear pulse generators are used for creating electromagnetic interferences that can dazzle or disable satellites in a very short span of time.
The pulse generator, exactly similar to the one seen at the Xinjiang EMP Test Facility, is observed placed at the aft section of the ship, on the helipad.
The ship possibly moved out of its home base Huludao in February 2019. The Lvshunkou images strongly suggest that the tests were carried out between 25 February to 16 March.