China Is Quietly Conducting Electronic Warfare Tests In The South China Sea

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/05/us-intel-report-china-quietly-testing-electronic-warfare-assets-on-sp.html?__source=twitter%7Cmain

China is quietly conducting electronic warfare tests in the South China Sea

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·         China is quietly testing electronic warfare assets recently installed at fortified outposts in the South China Sea, sources tell CNBC.

·         Electronic warfare assets are designed to confuse or disable communications and radar systems.

·         A Pentagon spokesperson declined to comment on intelligence matters.

Amanda Macias | @amanda_m_macias

Published 4:12 PM ET Thu, 5 July 2018  Updated 5:32 PM ET Thu, 5 July 2018CNBC.com

A Chinese Naval officer stands guard beside a submarine at the Ngong Shuen Chau Naval Base in Hong Kong.

Reuters

A Chinese Naval officer stands guard beside a submarine at the Ngong Shuen Chau Naval Base in Hong Kong.

China is quietly testing electronic warfare assets recently installed at fortified outposts in the South China Sea, according to sources who have seen U.S. intelligence reports.

Intelligence assessments, which were curated less than a month ago, say this is the first known use of the equipment since its deployment earlier this year to outposts in the Spratly Islands, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

A Pentagon spokesperson declined to comment on intelligence matters.

The move allows Beijing to further project its power in the hotly disputed waters. The placement of electronic warfare assets, which are designed to confuse or disable communications and radar systems, comes on the heels of China’s installation of anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three outposts in the hotly contested waters of the South China Sea.

The new coastal defense systems, coupled with electronic warfare equipment, represent significant additions to Beijing’s military portfolio in one of the most contested regions in the world.

The South China Sea, which is home to more than 200 specks of land, serves as a gateway to global sea routes where approximately $3.4 trillion of trade passes annually.

The numerous overlapping sovereign claims to islands, reefs and rocks — many of which disappear under high tide — have turned the waters into an armed camp. Beijing holds the lion’s share of these features with approximately 27 outposts peppered throughout.

Map of the South China Sea.

CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/CNBC

Map of the South China Sea.

 

The Spratlys, to which six countries lay claim, are located approximately two-thirds of the way east from southern Vietnam to the southern Philippines.

Just north of the Spratly Islands lie the Paracels, where Beijing boasts 20 outposts including Woody Island, which serves as China’s administrative and military headquarters in the South China Sea.

Woody Island features an airstrip, helipads, 20 hangars for combat aircraft, J-10 and J-11 fighter jets, HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles, and anti-ship cruise missiles.

Meanwhile, China maintains that its island-building on strategic outposts in the South China Sea is for nonmilitary functions. Yet the jamming equipment and missile systems appear to serve no other purpose than for military interests.

CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe

CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-installed-military-jamming-equipment-on-spratly-islands-u-s-says-1523266320

China Installed Military Jamming Equipment on Spratly Islands, U.S. Says

Disclosure comes as Chinese military conducts what U.S. officials describe as its largest military exercise to date in South China Sea

Jamming equipment located on Mischief Reef in the South China Sea in a satellite photo taken by DigitalGlobe, a commercial space imagery firm. The photo was commissioned by the U.S. military, which added the color inset showing the type of equipment installed on the outpost in the Spratly Islands.

Jamming equipment located on Mischief Reef in the South China Sea in a satellite photo taken by DigitalGlobe, a commercial space imagery firm. The photo was commissioned by the U.S. military, which added the color inset showing the type of equipment installed on the outpost in the Spratly Islands. PHOTO: DIGITALGLOBE

By Michael R. Gordon in Washington and  Jeremy Page in Beijing

April 9, 2018 5:32 a.m. ET

China has installed equipment on two of its fortified outposts in the Spratly Islands capable of jamming communications and radar systems, a significant step in its creeping militarization of the South China Sea, U.S. officials say.

The move strengthens China’s ability to assert its extensive territorial claims and hinder U.S. military operations in a contested region that includes some of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

The disclosure comes as the Chinese military is conducting what U.S. officials describe as its largest military exercise to date in the South China Sea, maneuvers that include China’s first aircraft carrier as well as air force and ground units.

A U.S. Defense Department official, describing the finding, said: “China has deployed military jamming equipment to its Spratly Island outposts.”

The U.S. assessment is supported by a photo taken last month by the commercial satellite company DigitalGlobe and provided to The Wall Street Journal. It shows a suspected jammer system with its antenna extended on Mischief Reef, one of seven Spratly outcrops where China has built fortified artificial islands since 2014, moving sand onto rocks and reefs and paving them over with concrete.

China’s Defense Ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment.

https://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/BN-XS010_backgr_16U_20180301162426.png

TAIWAN

CHINA

300 miles

300 km

Paracel Islands

LAOS

Controlled by China,

claimed by Vietnam

and Taiwan

Philippine

Sea

THAILAND

Scarborough Shoal†

South

China

Sea

VIETNAM

CAMBODIA

PHILIPPINES

Spratly Islands

Gulf of

Thailand

Claimed wholly or in part

by Brunei, China, Malaysia,

Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam

TERRITORIAL CLAIMS

China

Vietnam

Philippines

BRUNEI

Malaysia

MALAYSIA

Brunei

Notes: Different countries refer to the disputed Paracel and Spratly Islands by different names. China defines its claim as all waters within a ‘nine-dash’ line, based on a map issued by the Kuomintang government in 1947, but has never published coordinates for its precise location.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies (claim boundaries)

Beijing claims “indisputable” sovereignty over all South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters and demarcates its claims with a U-shaped line stretching from the Chinese coast almost as far south as Malaysia.

China says its island-building is for defensive purposes only, but the activity has stirred fears that it could use the outposts to enforce territorial claims that overlap with those of Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, as well as the Philippines, which is a U.S. treaty ally. In the last year or so, China has tried to smooth relations with other claimants while continuing work on the islands.

Three of its outposts in the Spratlys—Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef—now feature 10,000-foot runways, hangars for fighter planes, ammunition bunkers, barracks and deep-water piers for ships.

While Chinese military personnel are at the Spratly outposts and Chinese ships dock there, China has yet to station ground units or fighter planes on the artificial islands, U.S. officials say. Nor have surface-to-air missiles or antiship cruise missiles been deployed in the Spratlys, though spots to install such weapons have been prepared, U.S. officials said.

But China’s ability to quickly shift military assets to the outposts is a serious concern for the Pentagon since it could enable China to control vital trade routes, exclude other claimants from disputed areas and interfere with the U.S. military’s plans to defend Taiwan.

“China has built a massive infrastructure specifically—and solely—to support advanced military capabilities that can deploy to the bases on short notice,” Adm. Harry Harris, the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last month.

According to U.S. intelligence, the new jamming equipment was deployed within the past 90 days on Fiery Cross Reef and Mischief Reef.

“While China has maintained that the construction of the islands is to ensure safety at sea, navigation assistance, search and rescue, fisheries protection and other nonmilitary functions, electronic-jamming equipment is only for military use,” the U.S. Defense Department official said.

The U.S. regards most of the South China Sea as international waters and has sent ships through the Spratly archipelago to assert its right to freedom of navigation in the area.

China has been steadily escalating its military activities in the area. Beijing has deployed HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles and J-11B jet fighters in the disputed Paracel Islands since 2016. Those islands are about 500 miles north of the Spratlys in the South China Sea.

Beijing also has established a new Southern Theater Command to oversee Chinese forces responsible for the South China Sea.

A satellite image shows more than 40 Chinese naval ships, including the country's first aircraft carrier, sailing in formation in the South China Sea, just south of Hainan, on April 1.

A satellite image shows more than 40 Chinese naval ships, including the country’s first aircraft carrier, sailing in formation in the South China Sea, just south of Hainan, on April 1. PHOTO: PLANET LABS INC.

Recent satellite images from Planet Labs Inc. showed about 40 Chinese naval vessels, including submarines and the aircraft carrier Liaoning, sailing in formation in the South China Sea near Hainan in an unusually large show of force.

The drills took place from March 24 to April 5 off the coast of southern Guangdong province, then moved off the east coast of Hainan, where they will continue until April 11, according to notices from China’s maritime safety administration.

“The goal is to inspect and increase the troops’ training level, and enhance their capacity to win a victory,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said this month. “It’s not aimed at any particular country or target.”

Enhancing the Chinese military’s capacity for U.S.-style joint combat operations—involving all the armed services—is one of the main goals of a four-year military-restructuring plan begun by Xi Jinping, China’s president and military chief, in 2016.

Analysts said the exercises appear to be designed to practice joint operations involving China’s South Sea Fleet, based in Guangdong, and the Liaoning carrier group, based in China’s northeast, as well as air, missile and other forces.

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Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke acknowledged last month that Su-35s and H-6s recently conducted joint combat patrols over the South China Sea, without specifying the exact timing or location. China revealed in February that it had sent Su-35s, bought from Russia and delivered in late 2016, to the South China Sea for the first time.

U.S. officials said drills involving Chinese marines on the mainland were part of the broader exercise as well.

Timothy R. Heath, a senior analyst at the Rand Corporation, said that while the main purpose of the exercise was to improve the readiness of China’s forces, it was also sending a political message.

“To Chinese domestic audiences, Beijing is signaling strength and readiness to defend the country’s interests, which may bolster nationalist support for the government,” Mr. Heath said. “To the region and the United States, Beijing is signaling that it has been acting with restraint, but that it is willing to meet confrontational policies with its own confrontational policies.”

Maj. Gen. Jin Yinan of China’s National Defense University said the South China Sea drills weren’t connected to the recent U.S. deployment of three aircraft carriers to the region. The USS Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Singapore last Monday. The USS Carl Vinson visited Vietnam last month and did joint exercises with Japan in the South China Sea. The USS Ronald Reagan is currently based in Japan.

“Even if all three carriers came to the South China Sea, what about it?” Gen. Jin told state-run China National Radio. U.S. carrier operations in the area gave China a chance to study their operations and their radar and other electronic signals, he said.

“What else can you do apart from a show of strength? Can you attack me? Do you dare to open fire?” he said.

Write to Michael R. Gordon at michael.gordon@wsj.com and Jeremy Page at jeremy.page@wsj.com

Appeared in the April 10, 2018, print edition as ‘China Put Jamming Gear on Two Islands.’

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https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/02/china-added-missile-systems-on-spratly-islands-in-south-china-sea.html

China quietly installed defensive missile systems on strategic Spratly Islands in hotly contested South China Sea

·          

·         China has installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three of its fortified outposts in the South China Sea, sources tell CNBC.

·         By all accounts, the new coastal defense systems are a significant addition to Beijing’s military portfolio in one of the most contested regions in the world.

Amanda Macias | @amanda_m_macias

Published 4:39 PM ET Wed, 2 May 2018  Updated 5:41 PM ET Wed, 2 May 2018CNBC.com

A PLA Navy fleet including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, submarines, vessels and fighter jets take part in a review in the South China Sea on April 12, 2018.

VCG | Getty Images

A PLA Navy fleet including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, submarines, vessels and fighter jets take part in a review in the South China Sea on April 12, 2018.

China has quietly installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three of its fortified outposts west of the Philippines in the South China Sea, a move that allows Beijing to further project its power in the hotly disputed waters, according to sources with direct knowledge of U.S. intelligence reports.

Intelligence assessments say the missile platforms were moved to the outposts in the Spratly Islands within the past 30 days, according to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The placement of the defensive weapons also comes on the heels of China’s recent South China Sea installation of military jamming equipment, which disrupts communications and radar systems. By all accounts, the new coastal defense systems represent a significant addition to Beijing’s military portfolio in one of the most contested regions in the world.

The United States has remained neutral – but expressed concern – about the overlapping sovereignty claims to the Spratlys.

“We have consistently called on China, as well as other claimants, to refrain from further land reclamation, construction of new facilities, and militarization of disputed features, and to commit to managing and resolving disputes peacefully with other claimants,” a Pentagon official told CNBC when asked about China’s recent military activity in the area. “The further militarization of outposts will only serve to raise tensions and create greater distrust among claimants.”

The recent intelligence, according to sources, indicates the deployment of anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands. The Spratlys, to which six countries lay claim, are located approximately two-thirds of the way east from southern Vietnam to the southern Philippines.

Satellite photo of Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea taken on January 1, 2018.

Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/Center for Strategic and International Studies

Satellite photo of Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea taken on January 1, 2018.

The land-based anti-ship cruise missiles, designated as YJ-12B, allow China to strike surface vessels within 295 nautical miles of the reefs. Meanwhile, the long-range surface-to-air missiles designated as HQ-9B, have an expected range of targeting aircraft, drones and cruise missiles within 160 nautical miles.

The defensive weapons have also appeared in satellite images of Woody Island, China’s military headquarters in the nearby Paracel Islands.

“Woody Island serves as the administrative and military center of China’s presence in the South China Sea,” Gregory Poling, Center for Strategic and International Studies fellow and director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, told CNBC in a prior interview.

“We assume that anything we see at Woody will eventually find its way farther south to more directly menace China’s neighbors,” he added.

A hotly contested part of the world

The South China Sea, which is home to more than 200 specks of land, serves as a gateway to global sea routes where approximately $3.4 trillion of trade passes annually.

The numerous overlapping sovereign claims to islands, reefs and rocks — many of which disappear under high tide — have turned the waters into an armed camp. Beijing holds the lion’s share of these features with approximately 27 outposts peppered throughout.

Beijing’s interest in developing the crumbs of land across the South China Sea is by no means new.

For instance, China first took possession of Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef in 1988 and has since outfitted the features with deep-water ports, aircraft hangars, communication facilities, administration offices and a 10,000-foot runway.

Animated GIF

via GIPHY

Satellite images of Subi Reef from July 2012 and December 2017. Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Last week, U.S. Navy Adm. Philip Davidson, the expected nominee to replace U.S. Pacific Command Chief Adm. Harry Harris, described China’s increased presence in the South China Sea as “a substantial challenge to U.S. military operations in this region.”

In written testimony to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, Davidson said the development of China’s forward operating bases in the hotly contested waters appear to be complete.

“The only thing lacking are the deployed forces. Once occupied, China will be able to extend its influence thousands of miles to the south and project power deep into Oceania,” Davidson wrote. “In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”

Davidson’s comments echo a steady drumbeat of warnings made by Harris regarding China’s growing strength.

Earlier this year, Harris told Congress that Beijing’s impressive military buildup, including its pursuit of hypersonic weapons, could challenge the United States “across almost every domain.”

“While some view China’s actions in the East and South China Seas as opportunistic, I do not. I view them as coordinated, methodical and strategic, using their military and economic power to erode the free and open international order,” Harris told the House Armed Services Committee.

Harris, whom President Donald Trump is reportedly set to nominate as U.S. ambassador to South Korea, currently oversees approximately 375,000 military personnel and is responsible for defending a theater that spans nearly half of the Earth’s surface.

“Ladies and gentlemen, China’s intent is crystal clear. We ignore it at our peril,” Harris said.

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