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Korla, Xinjiang LPAR [Large Phased Array Radar]
41.641458 86.236956 (+41° 38' 28.17", +86° 14' 11.98")

Korla LPAR China’s successful exo-atmospheric interception of a ballistic missile on January 11, 2010 marked a major milestone. The target missile – either a DF-3 or DF-21 – was launched from Taiyuan Space Launch Center, while the interceptor was launched from the Korla area in Xinjiang in western China. The test was supported by a new phased array radar in the Korla area, which had been under construction in 2004. The Korla radar appears to be operated by the 63610 Unit, which reports to the PLA General Armaments Department (GAD) 20 Base.

In ABM or ASAT acquisition mode, the LPAR [Large Phased Array Radar] antenna , which has a single rotating 16.5 meter face, is mechanically pointed in the direction of the incoming ballistic missile, mechanically tilted back, and the S-band pencil beam is electronically steered through the search volume. This facility was previously illustrated as an Image of the Week while in an incomplete state using then-available Google Earth imagery, and identified as an LPAR facility using Terra Server imagery.

After the overthrow of Shah Mohammed Riza Pahlevi in January 1979, the US proposed setting up listening posts in China to monitor Soviet missile tests. Formal agreement between the two Governments followed later in 1979, with the Chinese insisting that their technicians man the facilities and that operations be conducted in absolute secrecy. The CIA stations were based in Korla and Qitai. Two key Soviet missile-testing bases are at Leninsk, near the Aral Sea, used for testing intercontinental ballistic missiles, and at Sary-Shagan, near Lake Balkhash, used for testing antiballistic missile systems. Leninsk (aka Baykonur or Tyuratam) is 500 miles from the nearest point on the Chinese border, Sary-Shagan 300 miles. The performance characteristics of missiles are detected in a number of ways, including tracing the missile with radar and monitoring data transmitted by radio signals.

With thousands of years of history, Korla was an important staging post in the middle of the Silk Road, because of the bottleneck of the Iron Gate Pass between Yanqi and Korla. It was set up as a county early in 1940, as a prefecture in 1954, and merged into the Bayin'guoleng Mongolia Autonomous prefecture in 1960. Finally, it was approved as a city in October 1979.

Dominated by continental climate, the area is dry with light rainfall, a high evaporation rate, lots of sun and a huge temperature disparity between day and night; the total sunshine is about 3000 hours per year, and there is an average frost-free period of 210 days. In summer, the temperature can be as high as 40 C and in winter as low as -30 C. The prevailing winds in the area are northeasterly. The annual precipitation of the rainfall is 25-100 mm.

Korla, with a population of 600,000, has its own airport with flights to Chengdu, Jinan, Beijing and other big cities in China every week. It also has daily flights to nearby cities, such as Yining, Urumqi and Kashgar. Singing and dancing are integral parts of the local life and have been around for centuries. Influenced by the ancient Silk Road civilizations, the song-and-dance styles have developed their own unique charm. Uyghur traditional and folk dances are very popular here.

Chinese authorities in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang on 07 March 2013 placed the city under security lockdown after deadly violence between ethnic minority Muslim Uyghurs and Han Chinese. Several people including both Uyghurs and Han Chinese were killed and more injured after a fight broke out in a video game arcade in the city's Golden Triangle commercial district, which is frequented by well-to-do Han Chinese. Chinese authorities blame Uyghur separatists for a series of deadly attacks in Xinjiang in recent years, but experts outside China have questioned the legitimacy of the claims, saying Beijing exaggerates the threat from Uyghur “splittists” and uses its “war on terror” to take the heat off of domestic policies that cause unrest.

Beijing’s propaganda machine has turned Han Chinese against the Uyghurs and led to violent attacks, setting the stage for riots in the Xinjiang capital Urumqi in July 2009 which left some 200 people dead, according to official count. Subsequent detentions, imprisonment, and executions of Uyghurs believed to have participated in the violence, as well as policies fueling Han Chinese immigration while curtailing Uyghur cultural traditions and employment opportunities, have left the minority ethnic group feeling even more isolated.

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