Bluffer’s Guide: Fortress China
4. Anti-Stealth and Countermeasures
China employs a range of “anti-stealth” and similar ‘asymmetrical’ air-defenses. These not only attempt to target stealth aircraft but also to shoot down or prevent cruise missile and precision guided weapons attack.
Foremost among these in my opinion are the anti-satellite program (“Space Denial”). These can disrupt/prevent GPS and spy satellites thus drastically improving the PLAs chances in any scenario with US. Also, because satellites are unmanned shooting them down is politically lightweight in times of limited warfare.
The main anti-satellite weapon of PLA is a ground based ASAT missile called KS-19 by western observers. The missile resembles a ballistic missile and is possibly based on the DF-21 or DF-25 missiles. The weapon was successfully tested in 2007 shooting down a satellite at over 500km altitude.
Another anti-satellite weapon that China is reported to employ is a very powerful laser. The US complained that China was dazzling their spy satellites with lasers – it’s only a question of ramping up the power and dazzling becomes destroying. The laser is probably not mobile.
Both of the above systems appear relevant should China develop anti-ballistic missile weaponry also.
Closer to earth, China uses long wavelength radars which are probably able to detect stealth aircraft in some conditions, although they are not fine enough to use for engagement by missiles. Another potential ‘anti-stealth’ system are the passive detection systems which appear to be deployed with HQ-9 SAM batteries. The main noted type is the DWL002 although similar but distinct trailer mounted systems are also in service.
On a cheaper front there’s the Bodyguard system designed to detect laser designators and dazzle them (another explanation is that they emit duplicate laser strobes to confuse the incoming weapon).
Air defense is also a role for the People’s Armed Police (PAP) and they conduct demonstrations of ciovic defense employing various countermeasures and even AAA. Among the curious systems employed is this MRLS, the exact role and effectiveness of which is open to question.