Belmont Club

Exo-atmospheric

The Daily Telegraph announced that China has claimed it achieved the technology to shoot down missiles.

China has successfully tested a new technology designed to shoot down incoming missiles in mid-air, in a move that Chinese military experts claimed was a “breakthrough” for the country’s rapidly modernising armed forces. The announcement of the successful test, made by the state news agency Xinhua, comes after a week of diplomatic tensions over a US decision to sell advanced Patriot anti-missile systems to neighbouring Taiwan.

“China conducted a test on ground-based midcourse missile interception technology within its territory. The test has achieved the expected objective,” said the terse, three-sentence statement by Xinhua. “The test is defensive in nature and is not targeted at any country,” it added….

The successful test follows China’s 2007 announcement that it had successfully shot-down a satellite in a move which was seen as a deliberately public demonstration of its growing military capabilities.

The Chinese test goes way beyond the capabilities of Taiwan’s Patriot systems. Wikipedia says China’s 2010 test is the first that is “comparable with that of the United States”. “Additional to ABM capability, China’s missiles also possess ASAT capabilities.” Five countries in the world now have missile defense systems: the US, Russia, Israel, India and China.

The Pentagon said it had not received prior notification of the test and declined to see any link with arms sales to Taiwan. However it confirmed that the test had taken place and was seeking more information.

“We detected two geographically separated missile launch events with an exo-atmospheric collision also being observed by space-based sensors,” said Major Maureen Schumann, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Most of the worry over China’s test will not revolve around it’s ABM capabilities which would not be able to stop a heavy attack from the United States. Rather they would stem from what these new capabilities imply about its ability to deny the high ground to the United States. For decades, America has relied on its control of space to achieve information dominance, maintain command and control and operate remotely piloted vehicles.

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How’s that coming along?

As Nancy Pelosi said, a lot of things are said on the campaign trail that are meant to be taken with a grain of salt. So the question is, what’s the deal? How much at risk does China hold US space assets? What will the administration’s response be to this? Ben Smith’s long review of the book Game Change in the Politico paints a very unflattering picture of major politicians when viewed at close quarters. They shown to be egocentric, scheming and less than forthcoming.

“Game Change” peels back a decade of careful renovations off Hillary Clinton’s carefully constructed public face, casting her in the terms that defined her at her lows in the mid-1990s: scheming, profane, sometimes paranoid, often tone-deaf.

The authors report that Clinton and her aides plotted behind allies’ backs to enter the 2004 presidential contest and that Clinton herself favored some of the nastiest tactics, such as suggesting that then-Sen. Barack Obama had been a drug dealer, in the 2008 campaign. And she continued to believe — without evidence, and long after her concession — that he had, in effect, stolen the Iowa caucuses by importing out-of-state voters.

It’s interesting whether politicians will find the time or inclination to focus on international strategic issues in the absence of a political compulsion to do so.

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