The Indian and US satellites are vulnerable to China’s ground-based lasers as according to some analysts China has acquired the full capability to destroy the enemy’s satellite sensors through its lasers. China can cause great damage to Indian and US satellites during wartime. In January 2019, the Pentagon’s Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), in a report on space threats, had disclosed and warned that China’s military is expected to deploy a laser weapon capable of destroying or damaging US military satellites in low earth orbit next year (2020).
Experts have identified one such laser station is Xinxiang, which has four buildings. While one of these buildings has satellite tracking systems and the other three could have been used to damage satellite sensors. China has also established five fixed ranging stations which are Shanghai, Changchun, Beijing, Wuhan and Kuming and the other two are mobile raising stations which can be transported from one place to another, as per their operational requirements. The ranging stations are mainly used for tracking satellites and space debris but it can also be used for damaging enemy satellites.
The report, “US Satellites increasingly vulnerable to China’s ground-based lasers” published in Spacenews reveals. “The ranging system at the Shanghai station uses a laser with a relatively low average power of 2.8 watts. The wattage at other stations is most likely the same or lower. Another laser of 60 watts at the Shanghai station has been used routinely to measure space debris. Calculations show that a one-watt laser has a one in 1,000 chance to cause permanent damage to a sensor, while a 40-watt laser would double the chance. These odds are low but likely to increase.”
As per the DIA report, the Chinese directed-energy weapon is among several space warfare tools that include ground-based anti-satellite (ASAT) missiles, electronic jammers, cyber attacks, and small satellites that Beijing plans to use in attacks on US satellites in a future conflict. This DIA report is the first time a US intelligence agency disclosed details of the anti-satellite (ASAT) laser deployment plans.
Due to the growing anti-satellite threat from China, in 2019 India also demonstrated its capability by successfully testing an anti-satellite weapon in space. The Anti-Satellite Weapon System (ASAT) is a capability that only the US, Russia and China possess so far. These can be used to either destroy or interfere with targeted satellites in space–either enemy or defunct and can be fired from air, land or sea.
China became only the third country to join the ASAT club in 2007 when it managed to shoot down a non-functioning weather satellite. It has reportedly failed in three previous tests.