December 1, 2021

THE NEW SPACE RACE: China’s Mysterious Hypersonic Weapon Can Stay In Orbit According To Space Force General.

“This is a categorically different system, because a fractional orbit is different than suborbital,” Saltzman continued. “A fractional orbit means it can stay on orbit as long as the user determines and then it de-orbits it as a part of the flight path.”

Historically, a fractional orbit has been defined as one in which the vehicle in question reaches orbit, but is brought back to Earth before fully circling the planet. However, the common working definition of so-called Fractional Orbital Bombardment Systems (FOBS), of which China’s system would seem to be a particularly novel example, has often been expanded to include concepts that do complete one or more revolutions. Saltzman is clearly suggesting here that the Chinese system is designed to spend a more protracted period in space.

This kind of FOBS offers a number of advantages over a more typical IBCM, such as a depressed flight profile and a capability to hold any target within a strip of geography along the orbit at risk, presenting challenges to an opponent’s early warning networks and their ability to anticipate where and when a strike might occur. Beyond that, the orbital profile means such a weapon could attack from the opposite direction from which the bulk of an enemy’s existing early warning infrastructure might be pointed.

One of the reasons MAD worked in keeping the peace with the Soviets was its predictability.

Beijing is playing by an entirely different set of rules, or maybe it would be more accurate to say they’re playing without any rules.

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