Military/Intelligence Bulletin 02/2018 – What can China see?

How capable is China’s long-range surveillance to support its existing military requirements?

China, to support its plans to expand its control over its maritime approaches, along with a desire to operate further afield, has been developing its long-range surveillance capabilities to support this.

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Liaoning is China’s first in-service aircraft carrier, seen here entering Hong Kong waters on the 7th July 2017.  With a planned growth in its carrier fleet, and a wish to operate further afield, China will require an equal enhancement in its long-range surveillance capability.

China needs the capability to achieve air, surface and subsurface surveillance in the East China Sea, along with the South China Sea, the Philippine Sea and the West Pacific. With the growth of their carrier force, China will also need eyes on the Sea of Japan and Indian Ocean.

Its not only eyes on that is required, but the ability to provide targeting data for its large inventory of long-range anti-ship cruise missiles, along with China’s anti-ship ballistic missiles.

Photo credit – By Baycrest – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5

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Chinese VHF radar on the South China Sea Island (Fiery Cross Reef).

China certainly requires Over-the-horizon radar (OTH) and is one of the few countries to have developed this. A Chinese warship would only be able to detect an enemy ship on the horizon out to about 50km. Airborne radar, at a height of say 10km, would increase this range out to around 200km.

But much greater ranges are required. This can be achieved by exploiting the backscattering (B) effect of the electromagnetic waves emitted by the radar reflected by the ionosphere in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. The OTH-B radar has to use frequencies in the High Frequency band (3-30MHz), this is a lower frequency than most radars use, and so require large arrays.  Usually, these arrays will be a few hundred metres in length for the transmitter array and 2-3km for the receiver array. Also, to avoid interference, the two arrays need to be sited at least 100km apart.

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The Large phased-array radar, LPAR at Huanan, east of Harbin, is aligned to the north, and may be set up to detect ballistic missiles on a polar trajectory. Equally, it could be used as a space tracking radar.

North of Taiyuan, there is an Over-the-horizon back scatter (OTH-B) base.

The Hangzhou and Yiyuan (just southeast of Ji’nan) LPARs, are both aligned in the same direction, possibly there to support China’s ant-ship ballistic missile targetting.

Northwest of Hangzhou, there is a OTH-B transmitter and receiver.

At Korla, southwest of Urumqi, China has positioned a trainable array, its primary use for tracking ballistic missiles during tests.

At Jiuquan, Xichang and Wencheng are primarily used as Space launch sites.

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Large phased-array radar.

China now has coverage out to 2,500 kilometres from the coast, just a few hundred kilometres

short of Guam.

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China is also enhancing its satellite coverage and currently has 192 satellites in orbit, versus US 593 and Russia’s 135.

On the 29 September 2017, a three Yaogan surveillance surveillance satellites were launched on a Long March 2c rocket from China’s Xichang Satellite Launch Centre. In November, a further three  were sent into orbit.

Photo credit – Xinhua

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Separation of a YG-30-01 surveillance satellite.

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Eighteen of the Yaogan satellites are believed to have an Electronic Intelligence, ELINT, function. The none ELINT Yaogan satellites have placed in a near-polar, sun synchronous orbit. It is believed that six of these are military surveillance satellites.

China, therefore, has a comprehensive capability for long-range surveillance out to 2,500 kilometres from its coastline. A technological milestone for China will be the building of an imaging satellite that can support target identification and tracking from a 35,000 kilometre orbit.

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Post copyrighted to Harvey Black


Military/Intelligence Bulletin 1/2018 – North Korean Missile Threat.

What is North Korea’s current missile capability?

North Korea’s increasingly frequent missile tests are signalling their improving capability in the region and sending warning signals to the US and its Allies, in the main South Korea and Japan.

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The KN-02 Toska, is a North Korean reverse-engineered locally produced short-range ballistic missile, provided by the Soviet Union via Syria. No serious threat to South Korea, Japan or the US a range  of less than 200km.

Photo-credit. Created by the Center for Nonproliferation Studies for the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

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Scud-B, a tactical ballistic missile developed by the Soviet Union. North Korea obtained its first Scud-B’s from Egypt in 1979/80. Again reverse-engineered, then reproduced at the 125 factory at Pyongyang and the research and development institute at Sanum-dong and the Musudan-ri launch facility. Known as the Hwasong-6, and with a range of up to 300km, this does pose a threat to South Korea.

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The Hwasong-6, a modified Scud-C, has a much greater range, 500km. With this range, it is capable of just reaching the coast of Japan.

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The Hwasong-7, an Extended Range Scud on the other hand, launched by the North Korean’s on the 6 March 2017, with a range of 1,000km, went beyond the coast of Japan. For the first time, the Iwakuni air base in western Japan was in range of North Korean missiles.

The Nodong1 and Pukgeuksong 2 increased the range further to 1,700km.

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The Hwasong-12, launched on the 28th August 2018, changed the game completely. With a range of 2,700km, it was only a few hundred kilometres short of Guam, an unincorporated and organised territory of the United States.

A further Hwasong-12 missile was launched on 14th September 2017, reaching a staggering 3,700km, well beyond the island of Guam.

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Image credit – Rodong Sinmun

In November 2017, the Hwasong-15 ballistic missile was launched and reached a ceiling of just under 5,000km, theoretically capable of reaching the United States mainland.

The pace of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programme continues along with the rhetoric behind it. Although progress continues, North Korea’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles are still under development and their is still some doubt about the credibility of their nuclear deterrent.

Post copyrighted to Harvey Black


Military Bulletin 07/2015 – Russian nuclear missile drills.

At the beginning of June, Russia initiated a number of large-scale drills for its Strategic Missile Forces. Fifty regimental and ‘special tactical’ exercises, some lasting more than a month, involving rapid deployment and break-out to field positions will continue, unannounced, throughout the year. This will involve 30 missile regiments along with their associated mobile missile systems.

At least a third of the exercises will be surprise drills, and they will involve combat training with security and defence units. Additional ‘special tactical’ exercises, twenty in total, will also be conducted involving biological warfare defence training. It is thought that ten types of biological weapons and toxic agents will be simulated, including anthrax, plague and Ebola.

imageTopol-M TEL (Transporter, Erector & Launcher), Russian Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. NATO reporting name SS-27 ‘Sickle B’. Speed Mach 22 (26,000+kph), range of 11,000 kilometres, carrying a 800 kiloton warhead.

Below is the SS-27 Mod2, a Russian (Multiple Independently targeted Reentry Vehicle) MIRV-equipped thermonuclear weapon intercontinental ballistic missile. It is believed that it can carry up to 10 MIRVs. At least 4 MIRVs, each carrying 100-300 kiloton warheads. It has a speed of Mach 20 (24,500 kph) and a range of 11,000 kilometres.

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PC-24_«Ярс»-2

The RS-24 Yars, NATO reporting name of SS-27 MOD

“PC-24 «Ярс»” by Соколрус – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

This is all part of Moscow extensively testing its ‘triad’ nuclear arsenal, submarine launched ballistic missiles, silo-based intercontinental missiles and its long-range strategic bombers. General Sergei Karakaev, commander roof the Russian Strategic Missile Forces, has been quoted as saying ‘the exercises will guarantee the highest degree of combat readiness and break-out capabilities, and of fighting in different environmental conditions, including an NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) environment.

The Bear continues to growl…..

Post copyrighted to Harvey Black

The Cold War Years. A Hot War in reality Part 4.

My  ‘Cold War’ trilogy is complete. I enjoyed writing it and the empty space it has left will be filled with a new set of books, based on the outcome of a strategic nuclear exchange. An Apocalyptic trilogy, survival at its worst.

The Cold War era started very soon after the end of the second world war, when the communist east, led by the Soviet Union, and the Western world, led by the United States and its NATO allies, faced each across what became known as the ‘Iron Curtain’.

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The capital of Germany, Berlin, was divided into four Sectors. The consequence being, that the three Western Allied powers now controlled territory deep within the Soviet Union Zone of Germany.

Over time, the tensions between the four Allied powers increased, eventually resulting in the Berlin blockade in 1948, when the Soviets attempted to starve West Berlin into submission and force the other three Allied powers out. This failed and the Soviets eventually relented, but an ever-increasing number of East Germans fled to the West; between 150,000 and 300,000 a year during 1951-1953. As a consequence restrictions were placed on movement between the divided country. From 1961, the border was closed and Berlin completely encircled, first by barbed wire, then bricks and finally a concrete wall, along with the infamous ‘death strip’.

Access was now restricted between Berlin and the West. A wall, 124 mile miles in length, was placed around the three sectors of West Berlin, cutting off the city from the rest of the world.

An Iconic picture of the face-off between the West and the East.  The Cold War starts – October 1961.

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I shall cover various aspects of the two opposing forces, around the period of 1984, providing the backdrop and background information to support my Cold War trilogy.

In 1984/85, the Warsaw Pact was already a significant force, the Soviet Union in particular.

Although the key strategic Nuclear Forces of the Soviet Union and NATO, were either land based or submarine launched, supported by Tactical, Theatre, Nuclear weapons, they also had the use of the Air Force to deliver a nuclear strike.

Soviet Union.

Long Range Bombers – 100 x Tu-95 (Codename Bear). Unknown number of Bear H in production, capable of carrying an air-launched cruise missile.

Medium Range Bombers – 220 x Tu-16 (Codename Badger), 125 x Tu-22 (Codename Blinder) and 130 x Tu-22M (codenamed Backfire).

Tu-160 (Codenamed Blackjack).

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Tupolev Tu-95. (NATO Code Name: Bear). Claimed to be a reverse engineered B-29, Super-fortres. A long wingspan of 164 feet.

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 Maximum speed of 575 mph with a range of 9,400 miles. Armament of 2 x 23mm AM-23, radar-controlled auto-cannon. 15,000 kilogram payload.

The Tu-95MS variant carried the Kh-55, air-launched strategic cruise missile family, one with a 200 kiloton warhead.

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Tu-22 Blinder.  A supersonic, swing-wing, long range strategic and maritime strike bomber.

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Tu-22. Speed of 1,240 mph with a combat radius of 1,500 miles. 1 x 23 mm GSh-23, remote-controlled cannon in tail turret. The Kh-55 nuclear cruise missile has been tested on this aircraft, but no confirmation that it is in service.

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Tu-160 (Codename Blackjack).  Swing-wing, with a max speed 1,380 mph and a range of 7,600 miles, without in-flight refuelling. Can carry 12 x Raduga Kh-55, nuclear cruise missiles or 12 x Raduga Kh-15 short-range nuclear missiles.

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Kh-55 Cruise Missile.

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United States of America

Long Range Bombers – 90 x B-52H and  84 x B-52G

Medium Range Bombers – 56 x FB-111A

On order – 18 x B-1B bombers (100 planned.)

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Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, with underslung drones.

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Lower deck of the B-52, dubbed the battle-station.

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B-52H. Payload of 31,500 kilograms of mixed ordnance. 1 x 20mm M61 Vulcan cannon mounted in remote-control tail turret. The B-28 nuclear bomb could be set for an air or ground burst with a yield of up to 1.45 megaton.

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Maximum speed of 650 mph, with a range of 3,980 miles.

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FB-111A, long range bomber. It could carry the AGM-69 SRAM, Short Range Attack Missile (Nuclear). Speed of 1,650 mph with a range of 1,160 nautical miles.

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Rockwell B-1 Lancer, a four engined, variable-sweep winged strategic bomber. The planned replacement for the B-52. Maximum speed of 830 mph, with a range of 7,456 miles. Can carry 24 x B61 (Max 340 kilotons) or B63 (Max 1.2 megatons) nuclear gravity bombs.

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B-28 nuclear bomb.

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United Kingdom

Strategic Long Range Bombers – 130 x Avro Vulcan.B2

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1024px-Avro_Vulcan_XH558_Duxford_Airshow_2012_(7977149648)

Delta Wing Strategic Bomber

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Armament: 21 x 454 kilograms of conventional bombs or 1 x free-fall nuclear bomb/1 x Blue Steel missile (1.1 megaton).

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Maximum speed of 607 mph with a range of 2,600 miles.

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Blue Steel – Air Launched Cruise Missile.

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France

Supersonic Strategic Bombers – 28 x Mirage IVA

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Maximum speed of 1,454 mph and a range of 775 miles. Carries 1 x AN-11 or 1 x AN-22 nuclear bomb (70 kilotons).

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AN-11 Nuclear Bomb

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There were also the conventional forces lined up along the Inner German Border, the visible barrier between the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR), or better known as West and East Germany. I shall be covering their organisation and equipment over the coming months.

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M-60, or Patton Tank.

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Maximum speed of 30 mph

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A first generation Main Battle Tank.

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Main armament is the British 105mm, M68 gun.

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45 tons with an armour thickness of 155.6mm.

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V-12, air-cooled Twin-turbo diesel engine.

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Top speed of 30mph.

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Introduced in 1960.

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Saw service in the Gulf War.

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M-60 Patton,  over 15,000 built.

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M-60

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Carries a .50 calibre gun

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M-60

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M-60 on the move.

My intention is not to portray a particular message, but just share some of my research and experiences with you.  Also to support  ‘Cold War’ trilogy, covering the hypothetical invasion of West Germany by the Warsaw Pact in the 80’s.

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HarveyBlack-Red Effect150313

Photographs and Blog are copyrighted to Harvey Black