Technology has changed the way wars would be fought and won. In the 20th century, wars were fought on three battlefields, namely, land, air and sea. In this century, three more battlefields have been added — space, electromagnetic, and cyber. Since China lagged far behind the United States and Russia (the successor state of the Soviet Union) in the traditional battlefields and a catch-up was not possible, Beijing has focussed on the new battlefields to challenge Washington. India’s technological capabilities in comparison to China’s are extremely modest.
Take space for instance. It begins at 40km above the earth where the atmospheric limit ends. In 2007, China demonstrated its anti-satellite capability by destroying its own legacy satellite with a land-based interceptor. This alarmed the US. Considering that the US has hundreds of military and commercial satellites in space, it desires good space situational awareness. China’s anti-satellite capability could smash satellites into smithereens, leaving clouds of debris, which would adversely affect much-needed situational awareness. While this cannot be construed as an act of war, it would play havoc with space supported Command, Control, Computer and Intelligence (C3I) systems. Moreover, in 2013, China launched three small satellites into orbit as part of Beijing’s covert anti-satellite warfare programme. These satellites have the capability to co-orbit, or enter into the orbit of other satellites, and with a retractable arm, they can be used for a number of things — to gouge out, knock off, or grab passing satellites. This is part of a Chinese ‘Star Wars’.
Credit : Daily News Analysis