Tag Archives: China

U.S. Army researching hacker drones

The U.S. Army is soliciting input from the private sector for a new class of attack drone – one that does its damage with an antennae instead of Hellfire missiles.

The Army’s Request for Information, posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website, says they’re hoping to learn “what systems, capabilities and techniques currently exist, or could be modified, to provide UAS-based EW capabilities to include potential surgical/targeted EW techniques (with emphasis on successful completion of an Airborne Electronic Attack mission).”

It’s unclear from the RFI what types of targets such an aircraft would be used against, but here are two likely guesses.

First, as Iran rolls out its own, domestically-operated version of the internet, outsiders will likely find it more and more difficult to penetrate that country’s networks. After Stuxnet made Iran aware of their vulnerability to more standard forms of electronic attack (i.e. USB thumb drives), the U.S. may be working on a more creative method of hacking their networks. Such an attack would, no doubt, be chock-full of irony, as Iran has previously claimed they were able to bring down an American Sentinel drone by taking over its controls.

The more recent headlines about electronic warfare have had nothing to do with Iran, though. After the New York Times exposed a widespread hacking campaign based in China which included major network infiltrations within both American media and infrastructure-related companies, the U.S. might be beefing up its electronic warfare suite for a showdown with the Chinese.

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Cloudy day in China? Just shoot them down.

A few days ago, reading a story in The Telegraph about the once-in-a-decade transfer of power in China, I saw a paragraph near the bottom of the piece that blew my mind.

Finally, China’s vaunted weather control technology is preparing for action to guarantee that the Congress’ 2,270 delegates enjoy nothing but cerulean skies.

Oh, no big deal, just put the fact that CHINA CAN CONTROL THE WEATHER in the second-to-last graf. What? What is this madness? China has elevated itself to God status and The Telegraph mentioned it offhand.

Well it turns out this really isn’t news. A quick search yielded a 2007 Asia Times story about China’s weather control program. The technology is run by Weather Modification Department, which at the time had a budget between $60 and $90 million. The tech isn’t actually as awesome as I thought (though I admit I was expecting something on the scale of Tony Stark’s arc reactor). Essentially, the Chinese have repurposed anti-aircraft weapons to literally shoot down clouds.

Instead, they grab rocket launchers and a 37-millimeter anti-aircraft gun and begin shooting into the sky. What they launch are not bullets or missiles but chemical pellets. Their targets are not enemy aggressors but wisps of passing cloud that they aim to “seed” with silver-iodide particles around which moisture can then collect and become heavy enough to fall.

None of this is all that new, however. The Chinese government has been looking into the issue since the 1950s, according to the Asia Times story. As if that’s not strange enough, the United States were among the pioneers of the weather-control research and in the 1970s entered into a treaty in the 1970s forbidding the use of weather control in warfare.

The Chinese used the technology most famously during the 2008 Beijing Olympics with the hopes of a rain-free opening ceremony. The Chinese government predicted the Aug. 8, 2008 event had a 50 percent chance of drizzle, but there were no signs of rain.

It looks as though the Chinese may have found the silver bullet.

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China, South Korea at odds over Yellow Sea stabbing

A Chinese fishing captain stabbed and killed a South Korean coast guard officer this week when the officer boarded his vessel to arrest him for fishing in South Korean waters. Another officer was stabbed as well.

This week, the crisis came when a Chinese fisherman stabbed two South Korean coast guard commandos when they tried to arrest the fishermen for operating illegally in Korean waters. Officials say the fisherman denies having stabbed anyone.

South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper noted that this was the second murder of a South Korean sailor by Chinese fishermen over illegal fishing in the South China Sea in three years. The first drowned after an attack in 2008.

Chosun Ilbo went on say that the only way to deterfurther violence was “strong reprisals.”

Adding violence to the already-tense international relationship would not help things, but it could help protect Koreans. Neither of these incidents have directly involved the Chinese government, but they certainly illustrate an attitude of hostility between China and South Korea.

With strong U.S. backing, the small nation of South Korea poses a significant threat to China, as any engagement could draw action from the Pentagon and possibly Japan. And as we learned in 1914, it only takes one violent death to start a very, very large war. Let’s hope for the sake of the region that those Chinese fishing captains can limit their knife use to the fish.

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China shows off sub-killing plane, but for whom?

David Axe reports that China appears to be testing a new plane designed for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW). The plane is equipped with various scanners for the detection of underwater vessels as well as a bomb bay.

As the U.S. bolsters its troop presence in the Pacific, these planes could be seen as China’s answer, a statement that the area will not be ceded easily. Axe explains why this probably isn’t the case. Mainly: the planes are still a generation behind similar Japanese and American planes, and thus aren’t a match against American nuclear subs (SSNs).

“Since this [the Y-8] is only a second generation ASW aircraft, it’s probably a generation behind P-8 Poseidon in terms of the platform and sensors,” notes “Feng,” a blogger from the highly-regarded websiteInformation Dissemination.

For that reason, it’s likely the Y-8 patroller is meant to track the less-sophisticated submarines belonging to countries such as Vietnam and Taiwan – and only when they’re close to shore where other Chinese forces can help.

“China has very limited ASW capabilities and appears not to be making major investments to improve them,” explains Owen Cote, Jr., an analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The ASW capabilities it does have appear focused on coastal defense, and on the threat posed by the diesel submarines of potential regional adversaries as opposed to American SSNs.”

Whether China will continue to develop its military tech in the open remains to be seen (or not). This could be the first of many of these quasi-public shows of new, increasingly advanced maritime warefare technology. Only time will tell.

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