Chinese military: What to do about the Starlink satellites?

Chinese military: What to do about the Starlink satellites?

25. May 2022 0 By Horst Buchwald

Chinese military: What to do about the Starlink satellites?

The Starlink satellites are obviously a thorn in the side of the Chinese military. Now they have raised the issue for discussion in a trade journal. According to a report in the ” South China Morning Post,” lead author Ren Yuanzhen and his colleagues argued in the journal “Modern Defence Technology” not only for China to develop anti-satellite capabilities, but also to have a system that can monitor and track all the satellites in the Starlink constellation.

“A combination of soft- and hard-kill methods should be used to disable some Starlink satellites and destroy the constellation’s operating system,” the Chinese experts said. They gave the following reasons:

First, they believe that the data transmission speed of stealth fighter jets and U.S. military drones could be increased by a factor of 100 through a Musk machine link,

second, the authors consider very dangerous the ability of Starlink satellites to quickly and aggressively change their orbit using ion thrusters, or via the ability to disguise military payloads as Starlink machines and send them into orbit undetected.

Ren therefore concludes that China needs upgraded surveillance systems to detect the fakes and, the ability to intercept Starlink signals to look for threats.

But this path is hardly feasible given 2,400 satellites in orbit. The system is too extensive, and it would probably still work if some satellites were missing.

While a “hard kill” method, such as a grappling arm or ballistic missile, may not be the most practical, would a “soft kill” method, such as using jammers, be more practical? Not at all, the authors continue, because nowadays jamming satellites is considered a typical warfare measure, as are the inevitable anti-jamming satellite communications systems that would follow next.

This probably raises the question of which side China is on in Russia’s war against Ukraine. As a result, Starlink would have supported Ukraine with connectivity after a suspected cyberattack knocked out the previous satellite service amid Russian military attacks. On May 2, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Affairs, Mykhailo Fedorov, tweeted that the service provided “crucial support” to the country’s infrastructure and was used by some 150,000 people daily.

With this move, Starlink’s parent company SpaceX has thus clearly sided with Ukraine in Russia’s war of aggression. China, on the other hand, has tried to appear neutral. How long this will be possible will soon be clarified. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced that Moscow wants to expand its relations with China.

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