China advancing laser weapons program Technology equals or surpasses U.S. capability.
Not only is the Chinese military advancing rapidly in the field of
anti-satellite, anti-missile laser weapon technology, but its technology
equals or surpasses U.S. laser weapons capabilities currently under
development, informed sources have told WorldNetDaily.
According to Mark Stokes, a military author specializing in
Chinese weapons development, Beijing's efforts to harness laser weapons
technology began in the 1960s, under a program called Project 640-3,
sanctioned by Chairman Mao Zedong. The Chinese, he said, renamed the
project the "863 Program" in 1979, after a Chinese researcher named Sun
Wanlin convinced the Central Military Commission "to maintain the pace
and even raise the priority of laser development" in 1979.
Today, Beijing's effort to develop laser technology encompasses
over "10,000 personnel -- including 3,000 engineers in 300 scientific
research organizations -- with nearly 40 percent of China's laser
research and development (R & D) devoted to military applications,"
Stokes wrote in an analytical paper provided to WorldNetDaily.
China's "DEW (Directed Energy Weapons) research (is) part of a
larger class of weapons known to the Chinese as 'new concept weapons'
(xin gainian wuqi), which include high power lasers, high power
microwaves, railguns, coil guns, (and) particle beam weapons," Stokes
said. "The two most important organizations involved in R&D of DEW
are the China Academy of Sciences and the Commission of Science,
Technology and Industry for National Defense (COSTIND)."
To underscore Beijing's fixation with laser weaponry, the Hong
Kong Standard reported Nov. 15 that the Chinese have developed a
laser-based anti-missile, anti-satellite system.
"China's system shoots a laser beam that destroys the [guidance
systems] and causes the projectile to fall harmlessly to the ground,"
the paper said.
The report also noted that Beijing had "conducted tests of its
new technology since August 1999," and said the system was "similar to
the laser defense system technology being developed by the U.S. Air
Rick Fischer, a congressional Chinese military hardware expert,
told WorldNetDaily that recent photographs of Chinese main battle tanks
taken during military parades held in celebration of China's 50th
anniversary of Communism in October showed "what was described as a
photoelectric device that may have been a ground-based laser equivalent"
of the same ASAT system.
Fischer said the U.S. is currently developing a similar weapon,
whereby "a ground-based laser would be capable of producing a 'dazzle'"
strong enough to knock an incoming missile off course."
However, he cautioned, "the Chinese may have beat us to the
punch," though he said attempts to classify the new battle tank
equipment as "definitely laser technology" were inconclusive.
As early as 1997, the Army reported successfully test-firing a
ground-based laser called MIRCL at an orbiting Air Force MSTI-3 research
satellite as it passed over the Army's White Sands, New Mexico, test
facility. According to one published report,
"Two bursts from the chemical laser struck a sensor array on the MSTI-3
craft." The U.S. firms Boeing and TRW are also developing an airborne
laser defense system, fitted to a cargo model of the 747 airliner, that
would be capable of targeting incoming ICBMs and other medium-range
missiles, either destroying them or rendering them incapacitated.
U.S. officials downplayed the results of the Army's laser tests,
saying only that they were "a research experiment, not a step towards a
But since the Hong Kong newspaper account, officials and experts
in the United States have begun to re-examine the issue of Chinese
military laser technology, which now may be even more advanced than
developments first revealed by the Cox Committee.
According to the Cox report, Beijing had already managed to
obtain sensitive laser technology enabling them to test miniature
nuclear weapons and to assist the Chinese navy in locating hard-to-find
U.S. nuclear submarines.
Unclassified documents provided to WorldNetDaily also provide
detailed technical information on new Chinese beam director designs for
high-powered laser weapons -- specifically those designed for eventual
"anti-satellite missions," anti-missile applications and for blinding
combatants in the field. Stokes said the Chinese were especially
interested in the development of "free electron laser" weapons, "because
they have a number of advantages, including their adjustable wavelength
and bandwidth and their potential range of 5,000 kilometers."
According to documents, Li Hui, Director of the Beijing Institute
of Remote Sensing Equipment, a developer of optical precision and
photoelectronic guidance systems for surface-to-air missiles, "has cited
laser technology as the only effective means to counter cruise
Hui has "encouraged the acceleration of laser weapons
development," the documents said, while stressing that an "anti-cruise
missile laser weapon" already developed by China "utilizes...the most
mature high-energy laser technology, the deuterium-fluoride (DF)
"Li Hui's statement advocating ground-based laser weapons for use
against missiles is not the first by a Chinese weapons developer," the
documents said. "The 1028th Research Institute (RI) of the Ministry of
Information Industry, a major Chinese developer of integrated air
defense systems, has analyzed the use of lasers in future warfare. Such
uses include active jamming of electro-optics, blinding combatants and
damaging sensors, causing laser-guided weapons to deviate from their
true targets, and target destruction."
The 1028th's analysis, the papers said, "concluded with the
statement, 'The appearance of laser weapons will have a significant
impact on modern warfare. On today's electronic battlefield, it is
natural for defensive systems to use low-energy laser weapons to damage
enemy electronic equipment. When high-energy lasers that can directly
destroy tanks, planes and ships develop and mature, they will be
formidable offensive weapons.'"
Stokes' research supports the Cox Committee's conclusions about
Chinese intentions to build a variety of high-tech laser weapons.
Though he said "there is no proof or strong indication that development"
of such weapons "is in a more advanced stage in China than in the
U.S.," he notes that China's People's Liberation Army "is placing
greater emphasis on lasers and their potential military applications."
"The Academy of Military Science, the PLA's leading think-tank on
future warfare," Stokes said, "believes lasers will be an integral
aspect of 21st century war."
/news/archives.asp?ARCHIVE_ID=16Charles Smith, a WorldNetDaily staff writer and founder of Softwar,Jan. 26
that new Chinese laser systems not only are rapidly advancing, but they
incorporate microchip technology obtained through export from the U.S.
"The Clinton administration allowed the export of advanced
radiation-hardened microchip technology, vital electronic components for
military satellites and nuclear weapons, to Russia and China," Smith
wrote. The technology allowed China to build air-defense laser systems
powerful enough to deliver an "estimated...10,000 watts of output power
on a target up to 500 miles away." Smith said the Chinese are preparing
to deploy "an even more powerful ground-based laser by the year 2000."
The Pentagon declined to comment on current Chinese laser weapons
development, but most experts who spoke with WorldNetDaily believe the
Chinese have obtained advanced laser technology from multiple sources.
They also believe Beijing is involved in an ongoing plan to "acquire"
new laser weapons technologies either by producing them domestically,
buying them or through espionage.
William Triplett II, co-author of the Chinese espionage
bestseller, "Year of the Rat," and a new book detailing Chinese military
prowess called "Red Dragon Rising," said he believed Beijing may have
stolen some U.S. ASAT and laser technology, but indicated that in the
end that may prove to be a small part of their developmental process.
"Right now the Chinese are in the cat-bird seat," he said. "They
have holes in their capabilities, but they have access to cutting-edge
military technology from both Russia and the U.S. What they couldn't get
from us they have bought from Moscow."
Triplett said that while China's use of laser technology was
"advanced," Beijing's ASAT and anti-missile laser weaponry was "not yet
equal" to U.S. capabilities.
"The degree to which espionage" was involved with Chinese
acquisition of laser technology "is really not clear," said Fischer.
"We can assume with a high degree of certainty that Beijing is seeking
Russian laser technology, but they themselves have devoted enormous
resources" to the research and development of laser weaponry, he said.
Stokes added, "Chinese analysts see directed energy weapons as
important for China's air defense and counterspace efforts. DEW efforts
also reflect a diversification of China's nuclear weapons industry."