Tag Archives: Richard Fisher

China builds military base on offshore island to reclaim contested Senkakus

At the end of the Ryukyu archipelago in the East China Sea is a cluster of small islands called Senkaku by the Japanese and Diaoyutai by the Chinese, the ownership of which is contested by Beijing and Tokyo. The waters surrounding the islets are believed to contain sub-soil oil and natural gas deposits.

On November 24, 2013, China made a bold move toward its claim by declaring an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that includes the air space over the contested islands.

At first, the United States appeared to challenge China’s ADIZ by flying B-52 bombers over the area. Two days later, China demonstrated its resolve by sending warplanes into the ADIZ. The Obama administration then backed off, told U.S. commercial airlines to abide by China’s rules in the ADIZ, then seemed to signal that the U.S. would accept China’s ADIZ in the East China Sea although the U.S. official position is that it does not recognize the Chinese air defense zone as it covers large areas of international airspace and waters.

Now China has made another move to reclaim the islands.

China vs. Japan ADIZs

Bill Gertz reports for The Washington Free Beacon, Jan. 27, 2015, that recent satellite photos of an island off the coast of China confirm Beijing’s buildup of military forces within attack range of the Senkaku islands.

In October 2014, construction of a helicopter base on Nanji Island was observed by a commercial spy satellite. The island is off the coast of China’s Zhejiang province—some 186 miles northwest of the Senkakus. The imagery, obtained from the Airbus Defense and Space-owned Pleaides satellite, reveals China is constructing an airfield with 10 landing pads for helicopters on Nanji Island.

Click images below to enlarge

Nanji1Nanji2Military analysts say the new military base on Nanji Island appears to be preparation by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army for an attack or seizure of the Senkakus. Rick Fisher, a senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said:

“China’s new heli-base on Nanji Island demonstrates that the PLA is preparing for an offensive military operation against the Senkaku/Daiyoutai Islands. If you want to rate the level of tension, this is the PLA reaching for its holster. When forces start deploying to Nanji Island, that means the hammer is cocked.

The military buildup on Nanji was first disclosed by Japan’s Kyodo News Service last month. Kyodo, quoting Chinese sources, said a landing strip was being built. However, the satellite photos, reported last week by IHS trade publication Jane’s Defence Weekly, did not indicate construction of an airstrip, only helicopter landing pads. The helicopter base construction is new because photos taken earlier than October 2013 do not show any visible construction. In addition to the helicopter pads, wind turbines on a ridge on the southeast part of Nanji also are visible additions to the island. Radar and communications equipment also is visible. The helicopter pads are an indication that China plans to use the base for transporting troops and forces by helicopter and not for longer-range air transports or fighter jets.

China has been engaged in a tense confrontation with Japan over the Senkakus since 2012, when Tokyo, in a bid to clarify the status of the uninhabited islands, purchased three of the islands from private owners in a bid to prevent Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara from buying them. Since then, Chinese ships and warplanes, as well as unmanned surveillance drones, have been flying close to the islands, prompting numerous Japanese maritime and aerial intercepts.

Yang Yujun

Yang Yujun

China’s Defense Ministry did not dispute the military buildup on Nanji.

On Dec. 25, 2014, at the same time as he called Japanese news reports of the construction on Nanji “irresponsible,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman PLA Sr. Col. Yang Yujun told reporters in Beijing that “There is no doubt that China has the right to conduct activities and construction on its own territory. Some media in Japan make irresponsible speculations on China’s legitimate activities and construction and play up tensions in the region. It is pure media hype.”

Questions were raised during the discussion with Yang as to whether the buildup is part of China’s declaration of an air defense identification zone over the East China Sea that covers the Senkakus.

Retired PLA Maj. Gen. Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser at China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, a Beijing-based research group, told Singapore’s Today newspaper on Dec. 23, that the Nanji military construction was “normal” and that “China has military bases in several strategically important coastal islands and the Nanji is one of them. The Japanese media is only singling out the Nanji and making a big fuss, [and] this can be misleading.”

Jane’s said the Nanji construction appears to be part of a “quiet military buildup around the Senkaku/Daioyu islands by both sides. For its part, Japan is putting aside funds to buy land for a coastal surveillance radar unit on Yonaguni island, which is the westernmost of its islands and only 150 kilometers from the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, while it is also training up and kitting out a small marine corps-style force that will be based in Nagasaki.”

The lack of an airfield is a “gap” in Chinese plans for military operations against the Senkakus, Jane’s said. The closest PLA air base to the Senkakus currently is located at Luqiao, some 236 miles from the Senkakus, where J-10 fighters are based.

Fisher, however, said Nanji could be used by the PLA to base its large Zubr air-cushioned hovercraft that are capable of moving troops and tanks in a takeover of the Senkakus or an assault against Taiwan.

A Japanese Embassy spokesman declined to comment on the Chinese military construction: “We are in the process of gathering information on this, and thus not able to comment.” A Pentagon spokesman did not respond to an email request for comment.

Note: The United States has a mutual defense treaty with Japan, and a Congressional act with the Republic of China on Taiwan called the Taiwan Relations Act (1979), wherein the U.S. states it is committed to the maintenance of peace and security in the Western Pacific (which includes the Taiwan Strait).

See also:

~StMA

China in a frenzy to build nuclear attack submarines

Bill Gertz reports for The Washington Times, July 4, 2014, that China‘s People’s Liberation Army is investing heavily in advanced submarines, including both ballistic and cruise missile firing vessels and attack subs.

In a report published by the think tank International Assessment and Strategy Center, veteran military analyst Richard Fisher noted that “A large outdoor model of a next generation nuclear attack submarine [SSN] has appeared at the People’s Liberation Army Navy [PLAN] submarine academy in Qingdao, China. The role of this model may simply be to inspire the academy’s students, but it may signify a larger personnel investment by the PLAN to prepare for its next generation submarines, as it may also offer some indications about a new class of SSN.

SSN is the military acronym for attack submarines.

Photos of the model were first published in April during a Chinese naval conference. Fisher said the Chinese have long used such photos of mock-up weapons as political messages for both domestic and foreign audiences.

The mock-up could be the first peek at China’s Type-095 attack submarine — the second nuclear-powered attack submarine being built by the Chinese after its current Type-093 Shang-class nuclear attack sub.

Type 093 nuke attack sub

Type-095 nuke attack sub

In addition to the attack subs, the Chinese also are building two new ballistic missile submarines, the Type-094 and Type-096.

The Pentagon in its latest annual report on China’s military said currently two Type-093s are deployed and four improved Type-093s will be fielded in the next five years. Fisher, however, said Asia military sources have indicated that in addition to the six Type-093s, two new Type-095s could be deployed by 2020.

See also:

~StMA

Chinese J-20 stealth fighter incorporates F-35 secrets stolen from U.S.

F-35 J-20

Bill Gertz reports for The Washington Free Beacon, March 13, 2014:

A cyber espionage operation by China seven years ago produced sensitive technology and aircraft secrets that were incorporated into the latest version of China’s new J-20 stealth fighter jet, according to U.S. officials and private defense analysts.

The Chinese cyber spying against the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II took place in 2007 under what U.S. intelligence agencies codenamed Operation Byzantine Hades, a large-scale, multi-year cyber program that targeted governments and industry.

Defense officials said the stolen data was obtained by a Chinese military unit called a Technical Reconnaissance Bureau in the Chengdu province. The data was then passed to the state-run Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC).

An AVIC subsidiary, the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, used the stolen data in building the J-20, said defense and intelligence officials familiar with reports of the illicit tech transfer.

Newly unveiled J-20 / Chinese website

Pentagon technology security officials in 2011 opposed a joint venture between General Electric and AVIC over concerns that U.S. fighter jet technology would be diverted to AVIC’s military aircraft programs. The Obama administration ignored the concerns and instead has since promoted the systematic loosening of technology controls on transfers to China.

The Office of Director of National Intelligence is known to have details of AVIC’s past involvement in illicit arms transfers and its role in obtaining sensitive F-35 technology through cyber espionage, the officials said.

The F-35 data theft was confirmed after recent photographs were published on Chinese websites showing a newer version of the J-20. The new version of the radar-evading aircraft had incorporated several design upgrades since the first demonstrator aircraft was revealed in 2011.

According to the officials, the J-20 has progressed from prototype to demonstrator. One of its most significant weapons enhancements is a new electro-optical targeting system under its nose.

Additionally, protruding engine nozzles seen in the earlier version have been hidden, an attempt to further reduce the jet’s radar signature. The newest J-20 also appeared with a different radar-absorbing coating.

Photos of the newer J-20 were first posted online on Chinese military forums on Jan. 17.

The Pentagon’s Defense Science Board revealed earlier this year that system design information on the F-35 was obtained from cyber attacks.

The new Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile systems and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile defenses, along with many other systems, were compromised through cyber espionage, the board said in a report.

Most details of the Chinese cyber espionage campaign to obtain F-35 technology remain secret.

However, the Chinese probably obtained the F-35 secrets from Lockheed Martin, its subcontractors, or U.S. allies involved in the development program. Allies that took part in the F-35 program include the United Kingdom, Israel, Italy, Australia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Turkey.

A Chinese Academy of Military Sciences official, Du Wenlong, told Chinese state television on Feb. 20 that the new J-20’s shortened exhaust nozzles, along with tail and vertical fin modifications, are designed to reduce radar detection.

Du also said that a “revolutionary” breakthrough allowed the twin engines to increase both power and reliability.

China’s inability to manufacture quality jet engines has been a weakness of its aircraft manufacturing programs.

Du also said that the electro-optical targeting system provides better surveillance and strike capabilities against both land and sea targets.

The J-20 also has a larger weapons bay than the U.S. F-22, which allows it to carry more powerful missiles that can be used against “aircraft carrier and foreign AEGIS ships,” Du said.

U.S. officials said the new J-20 had undergone ground tests, but it had not been flight tested as of early March.

Richard Fisher, a specialist on Chinese weapon systems, said the new J-20 was flight tested on March 1 and demonstrated the enhanced fifth generation jet fighter features.

Fisher, with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said it is “very curious” that the new J-20 featured its new electronic targeting system under its nose. That location increased its field of view and is similar to the targeting system on the F-35.

“This targeting system and a set of distributed high-power infrared sensors give the F-35 a previously unrivaled ‘situational awareness,’ but the now it is clear that the J-20 will have a similar targeting system and its own set of distributed sensors,” Fisher said.

“If as part of their espionage, China had also gained engineering insights into the F-35′s very advanced sensor systems, that could prove disastrous to its combat potential barring a rapid redesign and improvements before entering service,” Fisher added.

Advanced sensors on the F-35 were intended as insurance for the jet not having the best capabilities for maneuvering in flight, he said.

“But if the Chinese, via cyberespionage, have gained insights into its sensor system, then it is to be expected that China is also working on ways to jam or otherwise degrade its advantage,” Fisher said.

The J-20 targeting system indicates that the Chinese plan to use the jet for ground attack and air superiority missions like the F-35, he said, adding that it now appears the J-20 will be comparable to the more capable F-22.

“We can be assured that J-20 production will significantly exceed that of the 187 F-22 fighters cut off by the Obama Administration in 2010,” he said.

China’s Communist Party-affiliated Global Times reported Jan. 20 that China obtained key technologies from the F-35 and incorporated them into the J-20.

The newspaper did not admit stealing the technology, but stated that China “completely obtained the six key technologies” from the F-35.

Those features include the electro-optical targeting system and a diverterless supersonic inlet, a thrust-vectoring jet nozzle, and a fire-control array radar system.

The Global Times disclosures about F-35 technology acquisition were first reported in the Washington Times.

Chinese warship tries to stop U.S. warship in So. China Sea’s international waters

USS CowpensUSS Cowpens is a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser that is named after the Battle of Cowpens, a major American victory near Cowpens, South Carolina, in the American Revolution.

Bill Gertz writes for The Washington Free Beacon, Dec 13, 2013:

A Chinese naval vessel tried to force a U.S. guided missile warship to stop in international waters recently, causing a tense military standoff in the latest case of Chinese maritime harassment, according to defense officials.

The guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens, which recently took part in disaster relief operations in the Philippines, was confronted by Chinese warships in the South China Sea near Beijing’s new aircraft carrier Liaoning, according to officials familiar with the incident.

“On December 5th, while lawfully operating in international waters in the South China Sea, USS Cowpens and a PLA Navy vessel had an encounter that required maneuvering to avoid a collision,” a Navy official said.

“This incident underscores the need to ensure the highest standards of professional seamanship, including communications between vessels, to mitigate the risk of an unintended incident or mishap.”

A State Department official said the U.S. government issued protests to China in both Washington and Beijing in both diplomatic and military channels.

The Cowpens was conducting surveillance of the Liaoning at the time. The carrier had recently sailed from the port of Qingdao on the northern Chinese coast into the South China Sea.

According to the officials, the run-in began after a Chinese navy vessel sent a hailing warning and ordered the Cowpens to stop. The cruiser continued on its course and refused the order because it was operating in international waters.

Then a Chinese tank landing ship sailed in front of the Cowpens and stopped, forcing the Cowpens to abruptly change course in what the officials said was a dangerous maneuver.

According to the officials, the Cowpens was conducting a routine operation done to exercise its freedom of navigation near the Chinese carrier when the incident occurred about a week ago.

The encounter was the type of incident that senior Pentagon officials recently warned could take place as a result of heightened tensions in the region over China’s declaration of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently called China’s new air defense zone destabilizing and said it increased the risk of a military “miscalculation.”

China’s military forces in recent days have dispatched Su-30 and J-11 fighter jets, as well as KJ-2000 airborne warning and control aircraft, to the zone to monitor the airspace that is used frequently by U.S. and Japanese military surveillance aircraft.

The United States has said it does not recognize China’s ADIZ, as has Japan’s government.

Two U.S. B-52 bombers flew through the air zone last month but were not shadowed by Chinese interceptor jets.

Chinese naval and air forces also have been pressing Japan in the East China Sea over Tokyo’s purchase a year ago of several uninhabited Senkaku Islands located north of Taiwan and south of Okinawa.

China is claiming the islands, which it calls the Diaoyu. They are believed to contain large undersea reserves of natural gas and oil.

liaoningChina’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning (source)

The Liaoning, China’s first carrier that was refitted from an old Soviet carrier, and four warships recently conducted their first training maneuvers in the South China Sea. The carrier recently docked at the Chinese naval port of Hainan on the South China Sea.

Defense officials have said China’s imposition of the ADIZ is aimed primarily at curbing surveillance flights in the zone, which China’s military regards as a threat to its military secrets.

The U.S. military conducts surveillance flights with EP-3 aircraft and long-range RQ-4 Global Hawk drones.

In addition to the Liaoning, Chinese warships in the flotilla include two missile destroyers, the Shenyang and the Shijiazhuang, and two missile frigates, the Yantai and the Weifang.

Rick Fisher, a China military affairs expert, said it is likely that the Chinese deliberately staged the incident as part of a strategy of pressuring the United States.

“They can afford to lose an LST [landing ship] as they have about 27 of them, but they are also usually armed with one or more twin 37 millimeter cannons, which at close range could heavily damage a lightly armored U.S. Navy destroyer,” said Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

Most Chinese Navy large combat ships would be out-ranged by the 127-millimeter guns deployed on U.S. cruisers, except China’s Russian-made Sovremenny-class ships and Beijing’s new Type 052D destroyers that are armed with 130-millimeter guns.

The encounter appears to be part of a pattern of Chinese political signaling that it will not accept the presence of American military power in its East Asian theater of influence, Fisher said. “China has spent the last 20 years building up its Navy and now feels that it can use it to obtain its political objectives,” he said.

Fisher said that since early 2012 China has gone on the offensive in both the South China and East China Seas. “In this early stage of using its newly acquired naval power, China is posturing and bullying, but China is also looking for a fight, a battle that will cow the Americans, the Japanese, and the Filipinos,” he said.

To maintain stability in the face of Chinese military assertiveness, Fisher said the United States and Japan should seek an armed peace in the region by heavily fortifying the Senkaku Islands and the rest of the island chain they are part of. “The U.S. and Japan should also step up their rearmament of the Philippines,” Fisher said.

The Cowpens incident is the most recent example of Chinese naval aggressiveness toward U.S. ships.

The U.S. intelligence-gathering ship, USNS Impeccable, came under Chinese naval harassment from a China Maritime Surveillance ship, part of Beijing’s quasi-military maritime patrol craft, in June.

During that incident, the Chinese ship warned the Navy ship it was operating illegally despite sailing in international waters. The Chinese demanded that the ship first obtain permission before sailing in the area that was more than 100 miles from China’s coast.

The U.S. military has been stepping up surveillance of China’s naval forces, including the growing submarine fleet, as part of the U.S. policy of rebalancing forces to the Pacific.

The Impeccable was harassed in March 2009 by five Chinese ships that followed it and sprayed it with water hoses in an effort to thwart its operations.

A second spy ship, the USNS Victorious, also came under Chinese maritime harassment several years ago.

Adm. Samuel Locklear, when asked last summer about increased Chinese naval activities near Guam and Hawaii in retaliation for U.S. ship-based spying on China, said the dispute involves different interpretations of controlled waters. Locklear said in a meeting with reporters in July, “We believe the U.S. position is that those activities are less constrained than what the Chinese believe.”

China is seeking to control large areas of international waters—claiming they are part of its United Nations-defined economic exclusion zone—that Locklear said cover “most of the major sea lines of communication” near China and are needed to remain free for trade and shipping.

Locklear, who is known for his conciliatory views toward the Chinese military, sought to play down recent disputes. When asked if the Chinese activities were troubling, he said: “I would say it’s not provocative certainly. I’d say that in the Asia-Pacific, in the areas that are closer to the Chinese homeland, that we have been able to conduct operations around each other in a very professional and increasingly professional manner.”

The Pentagon and U.S. Pacific Command have sought to develop closer ties to the Chinese military as part of the Obama administration’s Asia pivot policies.

However, China’s military has shown limited interest in closer ties.

China’s state-controlled news media regularly report that the United States is seeking to defeat China by encircling the country with enemies while promoting dissidents within who seek the ouster of the communist regime.

The Obama administration has denied it is seeking to “contain” China and has insisted it wants continued close economic and diplomatic relations.

President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to seek a new type of major power relationship during a summit in California earlier this year. However, the exact nature of the new relationship remains unclear.

James R. Holmes writes for The Diplomat, Dec. 14, 2013:

[…] Beijing’s moves in the China seas — seizing disputed islets and atolls, asserting ownership of others, trying to restrict free use of the maritime commons — [can be interpreted] as China’s version of a first-mover strategy. […] Beijing has staked claims to parts of the commons while daring fellow Asian powers to reverse its claims at high cost and risk to themselves, and to regional tranquility. Strategic offense, tactical defense.

This would help explain China’s passive-aggressive approach to offshore quarrels. It proclaims some new policy, then acts put-upon and oh-so-prickly when challenged. Beijing’s announcement of an air-defense identification zone (ADIZ)  has riveted commentators’ attention on the skies over the East China Sea for the past three weeks. The South China Sea appeared somnolent. But last week, reports Bill Gertz reports, a PLA Navy vessel ordered the cruiser USS Cowpens to stop in international waters (but presumably within the nine-dashed line). Cowpens was evidently shadowing the carrier Liaoning at a distance, and Chinese commanders didn’t take kindly to its presence. When the cruiser refused to halt, a PLA Navy amphibious vessel cut across its bow so close aboard that the crew had to maneuver to avoid colliding.

This is serious business. U.S. officials continually harp on the need to work out procedures whereby American and Chinese reduce the chances and ill effects of “miscalculation.” Maybe so. But the main problem in maritime Asia isn’t miscalculation, it’s calculation. The ADIZ, the Senkakus, Scarborough Shoal — none of these are accidents. They’re policies made in China. By all means, let’s work out hotlines and incidents-at-sea agreements in Asia, if possible. But let’s not kid ourselves about their prospects for success. U.S. and allied strategists had better ponder how to counter [China] ….

Why is the U.S. helping China militarize space?

That’s what Gordon Chang is asking, writing for PJMedia on Oct. 29, 2013.

Ames Research CenterNASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California

After howls of protests from both American scientists and Beijing propagandists screaming “discrimination,” NASA has reversed its initial decision to exclude Chinese nationals from the Kepler Science Conference at the Ames Research Center in California early next month.

The reversal came after Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), the author of legislation restricting contacts between NASA and China, indicated the Chinese should not be barred. “The congressional provision — which has been in place since early 2011 — primarily restricts bilateral, not multilateral, meetings and activities with the Communist Chinese government or Chinese-owned companies,” he wrote to NASA on the 8th of this month. “It places no restrictions on activities involving individual Chinese nationals unless those nationals are acting as official representatives of the Chinese government.”

Wolf gave NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who is broadly in favor of cooperation with Beijing, the political cover to invite the Chinese to the conference. Moreover, most analysts and observers think the ban in this case was ill-advised. As Geoff Marcy, the well-known astronomy professor at Berkeley, noted, “The meeting is about planets located trillions of miles away, with no national security implications.”

Is that so? “No, the PLA is not going to invade exoplanets in the Andromeda system, but the PLA is very interested in deep space,” analyst Rick Fisher, referring to the Chinese military by its initials, tells PJ Media. “Knowledge of deep space dynamics and operations is viewed by the PLA as necessary for ‘space control.’”

Marcy may know much about the heavens — he is said to be in line for a Nobel Prize, after all — but he could use a brush-up on China. “There is no such thing as a non-military related space program or non-military affected space researcher in China,” notes Fisher, a senior fellow of the International Assessment and Strategy Center and widely followed China military expert. “If the PLA wanted to use any of the insights that Chinese scientists gained from the Kepler Conference, those Chinese scientists would comply immediately.”

China, not surprisingly, is trying to seize the high ground of space for military purposes, but what is of special concern is that it is willing to use aggressive tactics to do so. Since at least 2006, for instance, the PLA has lasered American reconnaissance satellites to blind them, acts constituting attacks on the U.S. At the time, Washington publicly said nothing about these hostile moves and continued helping the Chinese space program as if nothing had happened.

And why are these laser incidents significant? If Beijing ever were to launch a surprise attack on the U.S. — something the People’s Liberation Army thinks aboutit would almost certainly begin with it trying to destroy, blind, or otherwise disable American satellites.

Washington, for the most part, is unconcerned. For instance, Bolden, the NASA administrator, visited Beijing in September to speak with the Chinese about their space efforts. Then, Bai Chunli, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, talked about how China and NASA were cooperating on space geodesy, which involves the three-dimensional measurement of earth and has, incidentally, military applications. As Fisher, the military analyst, tells us, “As the top leader of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Bai Chunli is perhaps one of the most important individuals responsible for making sure China’s scientific sector serves to advance China’s military sector.”

Unfortunately, almost everything about space has a military aspect. Just ask the Chinese. As a geodesist at Beihang University, speaking anonymously to the South China Morning Post, said, “We can’t talk about space science without satellites, and we can’t talk about satellites without military-related technology.”

Until Beijing begins a purely civilian space effort, we need to stop all space cooperation with the Chinese, including the exploration of the exoplanets. Unfortunately, even benign-looking research has military applications, and the last thing we should be doing is helping the Chinese militarize the skies above us.

H/t CODA’s Sol Sanders

See also:

China uses stolen U.S. secrets for cyberwar

JTIDS users in 1990Joint Tactical Information Distribution System Users, 1990

Chinese Military Capable of Jamming U.S. Communications System

By   for Washington Free Beacon, September 20, 2013

China’s military is using stolen U.S. military secrets obtained from a convicted spy to defeat a high-technology communications system used in joint warfighting, combined arms warfare, and missile defenses, according to U.S. officials.

The disclosure that China has the capability of jamming the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System, or JTIDS, was revealed in a Chinese military technical article published in July.

JTIDS is part of a group of military communications systems called Link 16 that gives U.S. military forces jam-resistant communications, a key strategic advantage used in joint warfighting, a specialty of the American military.

JTIDS allows for a nearly unlimited number of military commanders and operators to share information, such as precision location or position data, critical in tracking, monitoring, and targeting. It is also resistant to electronic warfare attacks by rapidly jumping to different frequencies.

The Chinese article reveals that the People’s Liberation Army is studying this feature and working to defeat it.

The article, “Anti-Jamming Performance of JTIDS-Type Waveform,” was published July 10 in the journal Aerospace Electronic Warfare, a publication of Institute 8511, a unit of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC).

The article states that Chinese researchers have studied the JTIDS anti-jamming capabilities and formulated an “optimal jamming strategy from the point of view of the interferer.”

The Chinese article reveals that researchers have extensively studied JTIDS and produced several technical articles on the system. The article discussed “broadband barrage jamming” and “partial-band interference” of JTIDS.

As a result, the researchers “discovered that the only way to obtain a good interference result is to increase the interference power.”

A footnote to the article notes other work has been done on how to interfere with JTIDS communications.

According to court papers, Gregg Bergersen, a weapons system analyst with the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, sold secrets on a JTIDS variant known as Po Sheng that was sold to Taiwan in the early 2000s.

An FBI affidavit in the case revealed that Bergersen “discussed Po Sheng and communications security” during a dinner meeting on March 3, 2007 with a Chinese agent identified as Tai Shenkuo. The affidavit said the talks involved disclosure of classified information.

Bergersen was director of command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence programs for the Navy. He pleaded guilty in 2008 to charges of disclosing national defense secrets to China. He was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.

Michelle Van Cleave, national counterintelligence executive under President George W. Bush, said China’s military has targeted U.S. military communications technology for collection.

“China would like nothing better than to be able to disrupt or corrupt sensitive U.S. military communications—it is at the heart of their military strategies of information dominance and anti-access/area-denial,” Van Cleave said in an email. “So they send spies to steal what they need with the help of traitors like Bergerson who blithely sell it to them.”

Mark Stokes, a former Pentagon official and specialist on Chinese military affairs said the Chinese military for years has invested large sums in electronic countermeasures technology.

“The denial of U.S., Japan, South Korea, Taiwan abilities to employ JTIDS is only one goal,” Stokes said. “Satellite jamming is another area of focus. The PLA also is investing into R&D on a range of communications technologies, including tactical data links.”

Richard Fisher, an expert on China’s military with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said in addition to countermeasures, China likely used the military technology secrets obtained from Bergersen to develop its own jam-proof tactical communications system.

“It’s a fact the Chinese are developing their own JTIDS-like Link 16 system for distributed command and control operations,” Fisher said, adding that an early version is probably in use now by Chinese military forces.

“Right now Link 16 is a crucial force multiplier that allows the United States to fight jointly,” he said. “It is the main linkage between different kind of forces and different services. Taking away Link 16 makes our defensive challenge far more difficult and makes it far more expensive in terms of casualties” in any future conflict with China.

Stokes said Link 16 communications are a “backbone” for advance data links for the military rooted in German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s North Africa campaign in World War II when a flexible system of tactical communications connected individual tanks.

The communications allowed greater situational awareness and allowed junior officers to take independent and decentralized action.

Today, the U.S. military has applied this concept to what it calls network centric operations.

Recent Chinese military writings indicate the People’s Liberation Army is focused on attacking the United States using electronic and other means targeting network centric operations, like Link 16.

Network-centric warfare gives military forces the ability to “synchronize action, without necessarily having to wait for orders, which in turn reduces their reaction time,” Stokes wrote in a recent paper for the Project 2049 Institute, where he is an analyst.

The communications also are used in missile defenses, which require rapid transference of data on targets to guidance systems.

China is known to be targeting U.S. missile defenses and is also developing its own missile defenses.

Click here for Wikipedia’s entry on Joint Tactical Information Distribution System.