ChinaThe LY-80 surface-to-air missile weapon system is on display at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, or China Airshow, in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, China. (Photo source: Reuters)

By Depajit Sarkar,

A disclosure in the Financial Times that China this summer may have tested an orbital bombing system has prompted Western defense analysts to suspect that Beijing may have achieved a new military capability. The story goes that China launched a Long March missile that used technology to propel a highly maneuverable, nuclear-capable glider into orbit, allowing it to speed toward its target at supersonic speeds. If true, this news report is a clear indication that China is making rapid progress in developing weapons that can, to a large extent, evade existing anti-ballistic missile (ABM) armor and accompanying early warning systems found in North America and the Gulf states. European Union.

What is a partial orbital bombardment system (FOBS)?

The Partial Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) is certainly not a Chinese discovery. In the 1960s, the Soviet Union developed an orbital bombing system that could carry a nuclear weapon into orbit with a lower trajectory than a conventional fixed-course ballistic missile, and the Soviets had a FOBS version of the SS-9 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). ). Since its flight path would not detect the target location, the warhead could be directed to North America over the South Pole, thus avoiding detection by

North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) early warning systems are facing north, meaning a FOBS along with a glider isn’t much different than a reusable spacecraft. In fact, China denied reports that it had tested an orbital weapon and said it had only tested a space plane.

The idea behind FOBS is that the warhead is placed in a stable orbit and lowered from its orbit above the target. If the target and firing position are aligned and the warhead continues to rotate, it will complete a circle. Obviously, as the Earth moves during it, it’s more helical than a loop, but horizontal movement is encountered in such a way that the warhead still passes over the target. The real point is that the missile could fly directly to the target, or be launched in the opposite direction in the other direction around the planet and still reach the target from the opposite direction over the South Pole instead of the North Pole, where almost all North American early warning systems are pointing, More importantly, the warhead can remain in orbit for days or months, so that when the weapon breaks and attacks its target or simply explodes in orbit, an electromagnetic pulse is generated that initiates the attack.

Detect and destroy FOB attack

The first sign of a FOBS attack may be what was initially thought to be a satellite getting out of orbit to Earth or flying low over your area, usually too late. . North America’s south-facing radars will also pick up like Chinese FOBS. Over the horizon, Australia’s Jindalee Operational Radar can also to a certain extent detect FOBS launches in China. US allies in South America could also allow the US military to set up early warning systems in their country that can track the asymmetric trajectories of a Chinese FOBS approaching the South Pole. Once detected, interceptor missiles can be launched from multiple directions simultaneously, thus increasing the chances of interception.

India and FOBS: Deterrence Maintains Balance

What does Chinese FOBS test mean for India? The word for the future in the context of Sino-Indian relations challenges even the most unshakable relationship. For decades, the Chinese government refused to settle the border dispute despite New Delhi’s earnest efforts, and last year the People’s Liberation Army entered the depths of Galwan, which led to a bloody border clash between the two countries. India and China in decades. Exceptional payloads such as FOBS that require heavy silo-based missiles are somewhat less than ideal if there is a credible threat of a preemptive strike to the enemy. Moreover, Chinese FOBS is not necessarily specific to India. However, the Chinese FOBS capability is another challenge that India will have to face as it will at least allow the PLA leadership to divert more

Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs), Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) ​​and Long-Range Cruise Missiles are directed towards India and use their FOBS capabilities to target midstream countries around the world.

First, India will have to significantly increase its nuclear stockpile as well as its means of delivery. Purchases of AGNI-V ICBMs capable of MIRV and submarine-launched submarines should be increased. The Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Studies in Monterey, California, shows that China has begun building more than 100 new silos for intercontinental ballistic missiles. Ergo, India needs to dramatically increase its stockpile of nuclear weapons so that it dwarfs the collective nuclear stockpiles of both China and Pakistan. This strike capability must be supported by advanced real-time imagery and data integration powered by Edge Computing that will allow precise strikes even for enemy missiles traveling on roads and rails. The Indian government should also invest in underwater vehicles and long-range cruise missiles that use nuclear energy as the primary source of propulsion.

Second, India needs a significant increase in the number of military satellites it operates in LEO. At the same time, take advantage of existing real-time intelligence-sharing agreements it has with friendly nations to track any Chinese space plane that goes out of orbit.

Third, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has developed the prototype of the RLV-TD reusable launch vehicle. A different type of this launch vehicle must be developed to serve as a space plane. This space plane can be boosted into space by the GSLV launch vehicle. Such a space plane could be used not only to test reconnaissance and espionage sensors but also to launch weapons from space.

Just like the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, India will also have to maintain balance through deterrence. The world is once again entering a new phase in the related multifaceted and multilateral nuclear arms race. China is taking full advantage of the fact that the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is no longer in force. Therefore, to prevent China from taking unacceptable actions or coercing it into desired behavior, India’s nuclear deterrent capability must be credible.

(The author is an expert on competitive intelligence and market research in the defense and aerospace industry. Opinions expressed are subjective and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproduction of this content without permission is prohibited)

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