China sur­veil­lance

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

De­fense of­fi­cials said China has de­ployed a new wide-area ocean sur­veil­lance sys­tem that in­cludes an un­der­wa­ter sonar net­work of sen­sors, and ground- and seabased long-range radar that will make it more dif­fi­cult for U.S. sub­marines to pro­tect the fleet and to track China’s grow­ing force of new at­tack and mis­sile sub­marines.

A for­mer U.S. gov­ern­ment de­fense spe­cial­ist on China said on the con­di­tion of anonymity that there are in­di­ca­tions China is op­er­at­ing a rudi­men­tary un­der­wa­ter Sound Sur­veil­lance Sys­tem, or SOSUS. The sonar net­work in­cludes fixed sen­sors that can pin­point U.S. sub­marines op­er­at­ing in some ar­eas of the west­ern Pa­cific.

The U.S. Navy op­er­ates a sim­i­lar sys­tem at strate­gic un­der­wa­ter choke points around the world.

The Chi­nese SOSUS has been de­tected un­der­wa­ter in the Bo­hai Sea, off the north­ern Chi­nese coast, north of the Yel­low Sea, a ma­jor Chi­nese navy op­er­at­ing area. Ad­di­tion­ally, China also has set up at least five long- and medium-range radar sites along its coast that have over-the-hori­zon ca­pa­bil­ity, the for­mer of­fi­cial said.

The sonar and radar are part of China’s key strate­gic wartime goal of knock­ing out the five or more air­craft carr ier str ike groups that would be rushed to the re­gion near Tai­wan in any fu­ture con­flict. Those car­rier bat­tle groups are de­fended by sub­marines.

“If they are af­ter car­ri­ers, we pro­tect car­ri­ers with subs and if they know where they are, they can find the car­ri­ers,” said the for­mer de­fense of­fi­cial, who con­firmed that the Chi­nese are de­vel­op­ing var­i­ous ground, sea and space sen­sors de­signed to “tar­get the Amer­i­can fleet.”

The Chi­nese sonar and radar also com­pli­cates the Navy’s mis­sion of track­ing China’s sub­ma­rine fleet, which in­cludes large num­bers of newer and qui­eter at­tack and bal­lis­tic mis­sile boats with JL-2 nu­clear mis­siles ca­pa­ble of hit­ting the United States.

“If the Chi­nese can do SOSUS that would be a tremen­dous leg up for their sub­marines,” the de­fense of­fi­cial said. “Be­cause the best way to hunt a sub is with a sub.”

China’s SOSUS ar­ray “will make it more dif­fi­cult to fol­low and pros­e­cute their [mis­sile sub­marines] with all their mis­siles aimed at the U.S.,” the for­mer of­fi­cial said. The radar-sonar net­work pro­vides the Chi­nese mil­i­tary with “con­stant air and sea cov­er­age of the west­ern Pa­cific for the first time, so they can keep a 24-7 trail on Amer­i­can naval as­sets for the first time.”

Bill Gertz cov­ers the Pen­tagon. He can be reached at 202/636-3274 or at bgertz@wash­ing­ton­

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