According to US and UK media reports, the US is developing a Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability – or DARC – to locate a giant new radar system in Texas, the UK and Australia. The site in the UK would house 10 to 15 parabolic antennas (large satellite dishes) for tracking and four to six for transmitting, and each radar dish will be 15 meters in diameter. The system is said to be able to identify potential targets up to 36,000 kilometers away.
US and UK military officials claimed that it is to make the outer space “safer and more secure.” To make their claim reasonable, they accused China and Russia of posing “irresponsible and reckless” threats with their anti-satellite weapon experiments. They also asserted that they need to understand “what’s going on in the dark corners of space.”
It is a significant escalation that has the potential to further change the direction of global military competition. The head of the Royal Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Wigston, has bluntly predicted the next war could be won or lost in space. The primary purpose of the US and its allies in developing DARC is obviously to prepare for winning a war and to deter China and Russia.
The US has been developing its space situational awareness (SSA) for a long time, which is leading far ahead. With the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, its star wars and anti-missile capabilities are already the strongest across the world. But the US is not satisfied. Its ambition to achieve “all-weather, all-dimensional” information control from outer space to ballistic missiles is turning arms control into formalist attempts. This severely threatens the minimum balance of power needed for global peace.
China and Russia must strongly oppose the US’ efforts to extend the military competition among major powers into space and oppose its attempts to construct DARC with its allies. China and Russia need to expose the US’ shameless practice to further develop space warfare capabilities by hyping the so-called space threat from China and Russia. If the US adheres to such moves, China and Russia should take countermeasures, in a bid to strategically frustrate the US’ ambitious plan.
It has to be noted that it is much more difficult for the US to achieve hegemony in space than that on land and at sea. If the US dares to attack the space assets of China and Russia, the two countries can inflict the same loss on the US. Washington cannot develop the ability to unilaterally occupy outer space and close it to China and Russia.
However, by deploying DARC, the US can expand its lead in SSA. It will reinforce the impression that it “controls everything” through hegemony, consolidate its allies’ confidence, and make vacillating countries and forces further yield to it.
Just as the US established a global anti-missile system, the reliability of those systems cannot be verified. The world can hardly give it a chance, because such a moment means the extinction of humankind. The US developing these extreme systems that breaks the balance has had a large number of direct political effects. It has intensified the turbulence in relations between major powers and in global geopolitics.
The US vision to build DARC has particularly sounded the alarm for China. China’s space launch capabilities are getting stronger, and the country is increasing the frequency of its various space activities including efforts on a space station. The US is openly threatening the safety of these activities of China, speeding up the pace of constructing infrastructure and building certain capabilities to dominate the future space order. China must accelerate the building of its space counterattack capability and form a stronger deterrent to the US, in an attempt to resolutely suppress any impulse of the US to provoke a space conflict.
China has far fewer nuclear warheads than the US. But China’s space capacity building can go faster with relatively fewer international obstacles. China can effectively weaken the US’ strategic arrogance through strengthening its overall deterrence. In that case, China can force the US to face the reality and to some extent return to the mind-set of keeping the balance of power when Washington wants to establish overwhelming advantages.
China must accelerate the pace to realize the convenience and cost-effectiveness of space launches, continue to systemize our space assets, strive to achieve the leading position in certain fields and projects, and dismantle the US’ space advantage. We must not hesitate to invest in this field. It must be made clear that outer space security is becoming the new cornerstone of China’s overall national security.