Sunday, October 18, 2009

Stranded in Shallow Water, Chinese Navy's Fate

The Beidou navigation system being developed by China is becoming a fatal obstacle on the route of Chinese navy. These years, more and more people realize that the Beidou navigation system does not fit for military utilization. Chinese navy maybe will never be a real blue-water navy because of this system, although more and more Chinese naval fleets have sailed to the waters off Somalia for training under the excuse of anti-piracy.

Chinese flotillas on oceans now have to rely on the GPS system of United States or the GLONASS system of Russia to find their positions on international waters. To get rid of this situation, China began to develop its own Beidou Navigation System in year 2000.

Today the Beidou system is able to cover the area of China and part of its neighbourhood. The newly launched Beidou-2 (Compass) Plan in April of 2009 is going to add the satellites from recent 2 to 35. If the plan is completed as schedule, the Beidou system will become a global navigation system in the future.

This huge project seems perfect, but it unfortunately has a fatal defect when it is used on military purpose.

Unlike a GPS remote terminal or a GLONASS remote terminal, which takes the responsibility of calculating its own position once having received data from the satellites, a remote terminal of the Beidou system does not calculate its own position by itself. To get its own position, a remote terminal of the Beidou system has to send a signal via the satellites to the ground control centre first. After the ground control centre processes the received data, it transmits a signal back to the remote terminal via the satellites to tell where the remote terminal is. This positioning procedure will be fatal to a remote terminal during a war. It means a battleship or a combat vehicle equipped with a Beidou remote terminal has to break its silence in a war by sending a signal out to get its position from the Beidou system. When a warship or a combat vehicle knows the position of itself through the Beidou navigation system, it has also exposed its position to the opponent at the mean time.

Since the Beidou Plan started in October 2000, nine years have passed. It seems impossible that China is able to go back now to fix this problem from scratch.

Without a suitable navigation and positioning system, Chinese Navy will never be a real blue-water naval force such as Russian navy and US navy. To go into oceans, Chinese navy still has a too long route to sail. First of all, it has got off on a wrong foot due to the Beidou navigation system. Stranded in shallow water maybe is Chinese navy's fate.

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