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SC-19 ASAT

On 17 January 2007 Craig Covault, writing in Aviation Week & Space Technology, reported that China conducted a successful anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons test at about 5:28 p.m. EST on 11 January 2007. A kinetic kill vehicle launched by a medium range ballistic missile destroyed an inactive Chinese weather satellite. The Chinese Feng Yun 1C (FY-1C) polar orbiting metrological satellite had been launched in 1999. The ASAT was launched from or near the Xichang Space Center, and intercepted the target at an altitude of variously reported as either 530 or 537 miles. This altitude is consistent with the operational altitudes of American and Japanese imagery intelligence satellites.

"The U.S. believes China's development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the spirit of cooperation that both countries aspire to in the civil space area," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. "We and other countries have expressed our concern regarding this action to the Chinese."

China did not have a publicly acknowledged dedicated anti-satellite effort. Existing Chinese launch capabilities could provide the basis for the development of such a system. The missile used for the 17 January 2007 test was not immediately identified. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the ASAT was launched on a ground-based medium-range ballistic missile. This would probably be the DF-21 / CSS-5 medium range ballistic missile, with a range of 1800 km carrying a 600 kg warhead.

CNN's Jamie McIntyre reported on 17 January 2007 that this successful test followed two or three earlier unsuccessful attempts. These prior attempts had not been previously reported in public. This would be generally consistent with the flight history of the small commercial satellite launch vehicle, called KT-1 (Kaituozhe-1), based on the solid rocket motors of the DF-31 ICBM. This system has consistently failed to place satellites into orbit, a flight profile consistent with a direct ascent ASAT test. The ASAT launcher is known as the KT-409 derivation of the DF-31, and KT-1 space booster.

Subsequently it was established that the direct ascent ASAT was flown on the smaller DF-21, as the flight history of the KT-1 and the ASAT were quite different. An SC-19 was used as the payload booster for the January 11, 2007, direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) intercept of the Chinese FY-1C weather satellite. Previous SC-19 DA-ASAT flight-tests were conducted in 2005 and 2006. This ABN test is assessed to have furthered both Chinese ASAT and ballistic missile defense (BMD) technologies.

Due to the sensitivity of the intelligence that would have to be disclosed to substantiate the U.S. assessment, the U.S. Government in its demarche to the PRC Government did not associate the January 2010 SC-19 intercept flight-test with past SC-19 ASAT flight-tests. The United States requested assistance from Asia-Pacific allies Australia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea in demarching China in a fashion similar to the US.

The United States did not expect China to provide any prior notification of its imminent intercept flight-test, post-test announcement, nor did the US expect any post-event explanation without China being asked or questioned in a demarche. Although UK analysts had provided key contributions to monitoring this program, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Cabinet Office officials said they had been "personally unaware" that China had been developing a DA-ASAT system until they were informed by Embassy London on January 14, 2007, three days after China's flight-test.

China conducted additional SC–19 tests in 2010, 2013, and 2014. In each test, the SC–19 intercepted a mock warhead launched by a ballistic missile rather than a satellite. The targets were not in orbit, so any debris generated by the interceptions quickly fell back to Earth.91 Although China has called these tests ‘‘land-based missile interception tests,’’ 92 available evidence suggests they were indeed antisatellite tests. Regarding the most recent test in 2014, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance Frank Rose said, ‘‘Despite China’s claims that this was not an [antisatellite] test; let me assure you the United States has high confidence in its assessment, that the event was indeed an [antisatellite] test.’’

The non-debris-generating nature of the tests suggests China may have gained a better appreciation of the diplomatic costs of debris-generating antisatellite tests as well as the long-term consequences of such tests for China’s own space assets. China received worldwide criticism for creating more than 3,400 pieces of debris during its 2007 antisatellite test, and this debris continues to threaten the space systems and astronauts of all nations, including China. More than half of the debris could still be in orbit in 2027. Not all experts agree, however: according to Mr. Cheng, China may have avoided debris-generating tests since 2007 for other reasons such as changes to its testing needs, and evidence linking the shift to the previous diplomatic response is lacking.

Dong Neng-3 / Hongqi-19

On 30 October 2015 China conducted a test of a new missile capable of taking out US satellites as a part of Beijing’s growing arsenal in space warfare. The test of a Dong Neng-3 exoatmospheric vehicle took place on October 30, and was conducted from the Korla Missile Test Complex in western China. This DN-3 test was the eighth anti-satellite missile test China had conducted.

The Chinese media reported on November 1 that the test was of a missile defense interceptor, but the defense officials said the missile is a direct-ascent type designed to destroy satellites. US State Department and Pentagon officials declined to comment on the test.

Chinese media site Guancha.com reported on 01 November 2015 regarding the unusual contrails near the city of Korla in Xinjiang province from the test, stating that they seemed to be signs of "a midcourse anti-missile test." Days later, on 04 November 2015, Hong Kong-based newspaper Ming Pao reported that a "final-phase missile interception test had been conducted in the upper atmosphere."

"The capability to intercept was one of the capabilities of the PRC Hongqi-19 missile, and may be employed to intercept high supersonic gliding targets on the offensive," reported the paper.

details on the DN-3 are scarce. It could either be a modified version of the DN-2, a high-earth orbit interceptor produced by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, or a completely new missile.




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