China tests missile defense system

Bill Gertz:
China on Sunday conducted the second test of a new anti-ballistic missile defense interceptor that United States officials say is directly linked to Beijing’s secret anti-satellite weapons program.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon on Sunday announced it conducted a successful test of a long-range anti-missile interceptor.

China’s Defense Ministry announced the test, according to the official state-run Xinhua news agency, which quoted an official saying “the test has reached the preset goal.”

“The test is defensive in nature and targets no other country,” the official was quoted as saying.

China in the past has opposed U.S. missile defenses, claiming the systems are designed to weaponize space. However, Beijing refused to discuss any details of its secret ASAT program. A 2007 ASAT missile destroyed a Chinese weather satellite, creating a debris field that threatens both manned and unmanned satellites.
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Fisher said China is known to be developing several anti-missile systems. “One system sometimes referred to as the HQ-26 appears to be intended to have a capability similar to the Raytheon-built SM-3 [interceptor], the main system used by the U.S. Navy for missile defense,” he said.

“China’s new missile is expected to arm a new large PLA Navy combat ship that has not yet been launched and is also expected to have a land-deployed version as well.”

According to reports from China, an engineer from the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), the state-run company most likely behind development of a HQ-26-like missile, has received a national prize for the development of a dual-pulse rocket engine, a technology also used on the SM-3, Fisher said.

“China’s development of more capable theater missile defense systems addresses what for China is a practically non-existent threat,” Fisher said. “Other than North Korea and to a slight degree India, no country has the ability to target China with medium or intermediate range missiles.”

Fisher said unlike the Chinese, the United States has retired its subsonic nuclear cruise missiles and has no plans for medium-range ballistic missiles or longer-range non-strategic missiles.

“These Chinese missiles allow the PLA to target Asian-based land and naval aircraft at longer distances,” he said. “In all, it poses another major chop at the U.S. ability to ‘extend’ deterrence to its Asian allies, adds another layer to China’s ‘anti-access’ capabilities.”

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If the Chinese were really worried about the North Koreans it would be cheaper to just cut off the aid that is keeping them alive.  That suggest that their main concern is with India, although it is hard to imagine a war between the two or what it would be about.  They might have some concern about Taiwan but they are no threat to try to recapture the mainland.  If they are copying the SM-3 design, they maybe looking for a way to defeat it.

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