Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments Testifies on China Space

Posted: May 13, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: , ,

CSBA’s Barry Watts testimony on the Chinese uses of space is couched with caveats and unknowns.  However, as far as I’m concerned, it’s plenty on target.  The bottom line: China needs space to accomplish its chosen warfare strategy and methods.

So does that mean kinetic space war is likely?  No.  Non-kinetic space warfare, however, will be another story.

And China appears to be content to march (ahead, not in place) on and see how the future unfolds with regard to Taiwan and the United States.

However, here are a couple of weird items in the testimony to ponder:

…during a notional five-minute DF-21D time of flight, a U.S. carrier moving at 25 knots could change its position by some two nautical miles, and radio-frequency aerosol obscurants could defeat the warhead’s radar terminal guidance. (Page 4)

I’ve heard of radio-frequency jamming and I’ve heard of aerosol obscurants, but I haven’t heard of radio-frequency aerosol obscurants.  Breakthrough new technology or typo?

And then there’s this:

Throughout the Cold War, accessing the orbit using updated German rocket technology was costly, technically difficult and failure-prone. (Page 1)

Costly?  Yeah, it was, is, and may always be so, but I’d argue that it was only really failure-prone at the points in technology development where you’d most expect it: towards the beginning. 

Also, “updated German rocket technology”?  Please consider Bob Goddard (and others) as well as the fact at some point, the technology has sufficiently migrated away from its Germanic roots as to make the lineage very weak (storable liquids and solids). Do we describe airplanes as "updated American aviation technology” because of the Wright Brothers?

Still, those critiques are minor and the paper on a whole is entirely reasonably in both its presentation and in its conclusions.

 

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