Category Archives: Reports

China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites & the ASBM: May 2016 Update

China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites & the ASBM: May 2016 Update

Authors: S. Chandrashekar and Soma Perumal

To read the complete report click here

To cite: S. Chandrashekar and Soma Perumal. China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites & the ASBM: May 2016 Update. ISSSP Report No. 03-2016. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, May 2016, available at http://isssp.in/chinas-constellation-of-yaogan-satellites-the-asbm-may-2016-update/


Yaogan May 2016With the launch of the Yaogan 28, Yaogan 29 in November 2015 and Yaogan 30 satellite in May 2016, China has demonstrated its ability to routinely identify, locate and track an Aircraft Carrier Group (ACG) on the high seas. This space capability is an important component of an Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) System that China has set up. The current operational satellite constellation consists of ELINT satellites, satellites carrying Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors as well as satellites carrying optical imaging sensors.

Based on the orbit characteristics, their local time of equatorial crossing and other related parameters, these satellites can be grouped into different categories that perform the various functions for identifying, locating and tracking the ACG.

Yaogan 9 (Yaogan 9A, 9B, 9C), Yaogan 16 (16A, 16B, 16C), Yaogan 17 (17A, 17B, 17C), Yaogan 20 (20A, 20B, 20C) and Yaogan25 (25A, 25B, 25C) are the five triplet cluster equipped with ELINT sensors that provide broad area surveillance over the Oceans. With a coverage radius of about 3500 Km, they provide the first coarse fix for identifying and locating an ACG in the Pacific Ocean. Yaogan 20 and Yaogan 25 may be replacements for the Yaogan 9 and the Yaogan 16 that may be nearing the end of their lives.

Yaogan 23, Yaogan 29, Yaogan 10, and Yaogan 18 are the satellites carrying a SAR sensor. With Local times of crossing of 02 00, 04 30, 06 00, and 10 00 hours they provide all weather as well as day and night imaging capabilities over the regions of interest.

Yaogan 30, Yaogan 26, Yaogan 4, Yaogan 24, Yaogan 28, Yaogan 7 and Yaogan 21 constitute the high resolution optical satellites in the current constellation. The sensors they carry may have resolutions of between 1 to 3 m. Their local times of crossing of 09 00, 10 30, 11 00, 13 30, 14 00, 15 00 and 17 30 hours respectively ensure favourable illumination conditions for their imaging missions.

Yaogan 27, Yaogan 19, Yaogan 22 and Yaogan 15 satellites with local times of crossing of 09 30, 10 30, 13 30 and 14 30 hours respectively are optical imaging satellites with medium resolution (3 to 10 m) capabilities. They act as a broad area coverage complement for the SAR as well as the high resolution optical imaging satellites. Yaogan 27 is a replacement for the Yaogan 8 that may be nearing the end of its life.

Using typical sensor geometries and the two line orbital elements available from public sources the ability of the current constellation to identify, locate and track the ACG was simulated.

Assuming that any three of the ELINT clusters are operational at any given point in time the ELINT satellites typically make 18 contacts in a day with the moving target. The maximum period for which the target remains outside the reach of the ELINT satellites is about 90 minutes in a day. The SAR and the optical imaging satellites together typically provide 24 satellite passes over the target. About 16 targeting opportunities, during which the uncertainty in the target’s location is less than 10 km, are available in a day.

The analysis and the simulation results suggest that China has in place an operational ASBM system that can identify, locate, track and destroy an Aircraft Carrier in the Pacific Ocean. This seems to be an important component of a larger Chinese Access and Area Denial Strategy focused around a conflict over Taiwan.

To read the complete report click here

About the Authors

S. Chandrashekar is JRD Tata Chair Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at chandrashekar.schandra[at]gmail.com

Soma Perumal is Adjunct Faculty in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at som598[at]yahoo.com


 

Analysis of North Korea’s February 2016 Successful Space Launch

Analysis of North Korea’s February 2016 Successful Space Launch

Authors: S. Chandrashekar, N. Ramani, Arun Vishwanathan

To read the complete report click here

To cite: S. Chandrashekar, N. Ramani, Arun Vishwanathan. Analysis of North Korea’s February 2016 Successful Space Launch. ISSSP Report No. 02-2016. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, April 2016, available at http://isssp.in/analysis-of-north-koreas-february-2016-successful-space-launch/


DPRK Feb 2016 Unha3The Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK) or North Korea succeeded in placing a 100 kg Earth Observation (EO) satellite Kwangmyongsong-4 into a Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO) on February 7, 2016. As it had done in earlier launches, the DPRK used its Unha-3 launch vehicle for the latest mission. The launch was conducted from the Sohae Space Center in Ch’o’lsan County, North Pyongyang Province.

North Korea has so far conducted six space launches. The last two launches conducted in December 2012 and the recent February 2016 launch have been successful in placing small remote sensing satellites into “more difficult to reach” sun synchronous orbits.

Based on available information put out by various agencies including official North Korean sources this report attempts to reconstruct the trajectory of the February 2016 launch. Using this reconstruction of the trajectory it goes on to make inferences about the technical parameters of the launcher. It builds upon and complements an earlier study carried out by the ISSSP on North Korea’s successful launch of 2012 to provide an update on North Korea’s launch and space capabilities.

On February 2, 2016, the North Koreans had released information about an impending space launch to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The statement indicated a launch window stretching from February 8 to February 25, 2016. It also provided the area coordinates or impact zones for the spent stages and the shroud. On February 6, 2016, the DPRK narrowed down the launch window to February 7-14. The launch took place on February 7, 2016, the first day of the revised launch window.

Analysis of the Unha-3 Launch using NIAS Quo Vadis Trajectory Software

The analysis was carried out using the Quo Vadis trajectory software developed at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore. Using an iterative trial and error process involving changes in the various launch vehicle parameters very similar to those used in our analysis of the 2012 launch we attempted to arrive at a trajectory in which the impact points of the first stage, second stage and shroud are closely matched with the nominal impact points put out by North Korea. Along with this we also introduced needed maneuvers to the first, second and third stages for realizing an orbit that matched well with the NORAD orbital data. 

With two successful satellite launches, North Korea has indicated its capability to indigenously design, develop, test and integrate advanced technologies like a new engine for its launch vehicle. More importantly, the two launches have highlighted the North Korean capability to bring together the hard technologies with the softer parts of the launch like mission planning and management.

For placing the satellite into a sun synchronous orbit, North Korea has to carry out maneuvers after liftoff, pitch down the second stage after the first stage separation and also carry out a yaw maneuver of the third stage before injection of the satellite into orbit.

Successful mastery of these difficult technologies and a complex mission indicates the progress in rocket and missile technology that the North Koreans have achieved since their first failed launch in April 2012. The launch trajectory and the initial orbits of the February 2016 launch of the Unha-3 as computed by the Quo Vadis software is depicted in Figure below.

unha3 feb 2016 launch trajectory

Unha-3 February 2016 Launch Trajectory

Click here to download the KMZ file for the Unha-3 Trajectory

Unha-3 as a long-range Ballistic Missile

North Korea conducted four nuclear tests with the latest test in January 2016. In addition it has successfully put a satellite into orbit twice – in December 2012 and February 2016. With these capabilities, North Korea is moving towards the capability to miniaturize its nuclear warhead and delivering them on long range missiles.

Though the Unha-3 is primarily designed for a space mission, it can be modified into a long range ballistic missile. Trajectory analysis using the NIAS trajectory modelling software – Quo Vadis – shows that a due North East launch (25o azimuth) of the Unha from a suitable location with a 1000kg payload (sufficient to carry a nuclear warhead) can reach all of Alaska and some parts of northern Canada. As indicated in an earlier ISSSP, NIAS report, if North Korea manages to reduce the payload mass to 800kg it will be able to successfully deliver a nuclear warhead on parts of western coast of the continental United States including the states of Washington, Oregon and northern parts of California.

Figure below provides a visual representation of the range of the Unha 3 launcher if it is deployed as a long range missile.

Unha-3 as a BM

Unha-3 as a Long Range Ballistic Missile


About the Authors

S. Chandrashekar is JRD Tata Chair Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at chandrashekar.schandra[at]gmail.com

N. Ramani is Visiting Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at narayan.ramani[at]gmail.com

Arun Vishwanathan is Assistant Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at arun_summerhll[at]yahoo.com


 

Space, War and Security – A Strategy for India

Space, War and Security – A Strategy for India

Author: S. Chandrashekar

To read the complete report click here

To cite: S. Chandrashekar.  Space, War and Security – A Strategy for India. NIAS Report No. 36-2015. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, December 2015.


Q&A with the author, Prof. S. Chandrashekar about the Report

Chandra Space ReportIn your paper you talk about the connections between space assets, nuclear weapons and conventional war. Can you tell us a bit more on how these are connected?

Ever since Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear weapons and conventional war have always been connected. The dawn of the space age through the launch of Sputnik was made possible because of the development of ICBMs. Of course missiles became the preferred delivery system for both nuclear and conventional weapons. Satellites because of their vantage point in space cover large areas on the ground. Military interests for both offence and defence have always wanted to control the high ground. Space is no exception to this desire. Space assets have always played a major role in the war strategies of major space powers.

If this were so space would have always been a contested ground. However international concerns about the weaponization of space seem to have more recent origins. What has changed in the world space order for these renewed emerging concerns?

The Cold war Period of the space age saw the emergence of what can be called the sanctuary regime in space where the desire to preserve stability and the peace limited the military uses of space to what we currently call the ISR functions where information provided by satellites maintained the peace. This also saw an international space order dominated by the USA and the USSR – who established this sanctuary regime – associated with what is even today described as the peaceful uses of outer space.

Reagan’s Star Wars initiative led to a change and conferred greater legitimacy to space weapons – that moved from testing to keeping technology options open – towards possible deployment.

The breakup of the Soviet Union and the first Gulf War which saw large scale use of space assets for both defensive and offensive weapons linked space assets more directly with war. The rise of China and its desire to counter the dominant US position in space has resulted in a number of Chinese led assymetric responses that more directly link space assets with the risks of escalating conventional war to a nuclear war. Through such approaches China hopes to deter US intervention into areas that China perceives as being vital to its national interests such as Taiwan.

This emerging China US dynamic makes the connections between space nuclear weapons and conventional war more direct and immediate. These are the changes that India needs to take into account in formulating a suitable space strategy.

What do you see as the most immediate concern for India as far as these developments are concerned?

Evidence suggests that India did not have any independent way of knowing about the Chinese ASAT test. India’s knowledge about the Yaogan military constellation especially the Chinese ELINT capability does not seem to be based on independent information and knowledge. This gap in Space Situational Awareness is not consistent with Indian aspirations as a potential key player in the current world order. India needs to bridge this gap in space capabilities as quickly as possible.

What should India do in order to improve awareness of what is happening in space?

For civilian space applications countries need to track and monitor the health of satellites. Most active satellites transmit radio signals that can be received on the ground and these can be used to fix the position of the satellite and determine its orbit. However once satellites reach their end of life they may not be able to transmit radio signals on a continuing basis. There are also spent rocket stages and a number of objects put into orbit during the commissioning of a satellite. Military testing of ASAT weapons, other experiments done in the past where particles have been released into space as well as fragments from the explosion of spent rocket stages all create debris. More recently two satellites have collided with each other creating a debris cloud. Indian facilities for tracking transmitting satellites may be adequate. However to track inactive satellites and space debris India needs long range radars, optical and laser tracking facilities located suitably so as to be able to track these objects. These are the facilities that India needs to set up.

Once these are available India would be in a position to monitor the happenings in space. By making sure it knows where the inactive satellites and larger debris objects are located, it can provide routine data to all satellite users including Indian operators on risks associated with possible collisions. It can also monitor the space activities of the major space powers especially on the military aspects of the use of space such as ASAT testing, launchings related to C4ISR functions for the military as well as other satellites used for various civilian and military functions.

To read the complete report click here

Estimating Uranium Mill Capacity Using Satellite Pictures

Estimating Uranium Mill Capacity Using Satellite Pictures

Authors: S. Chandrashekar, Lalitha Sundaresan, Bhupendra Jassani

To read the complete report click here

To cite: S. Chandrashekar, Lalitha Sundaresan, Bhupendra Jassani. Estimating Uranium Mill Capacity Using Satellite Pictures. NIAS Report No. 35-2015. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, December 2015, available at http://isssp.in/estimating-uranium-mill-capacity-using-satellite-pictures/


Estimation of Uranium Mill SitesThe International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gathers and analyses safeguards relevant information about a State from:

  • a. information provided by the State party to the safeguards agreement;
  • b. safeguards activities conducted by the Agency on the ground;
  • c. open sources and third parties.

The IAEA’s analyses consists of validation of information provided by the States against information collected by the Agency under (b) and (c) including that obtained from commercial satellite imagery. Information may differ depending on whether it is acquired under a comprehensive safeguards agreement (CSA), CSA and under the Additional Protocol Agreement (APA) or that obtained on a voluntary basis.

Under the Additional Protocol Agreement, signatory states are required to provide IAEA inspectors information on all parts of the nuclear fuel cycle that include uranium mines, processing facilities, fuel fabrication & enrichment plants, nuclear waste sites as well as any other location where nuclear materials may be present. The IAEA Verification measures include on-site inspections, visits, and as well as ongoing monitoring and evaluation.

This has vastly increased the amount and type of information that States will have to provide to the IAEA. At the same time, the burden of verification has also vastly multiplied as far as the IAEA inspectors are concerned. The IAEA is therefore likely to find itself in a situation where physical verification of the declared nuclear facilities will become increasingly difficult.

Monitoring and evaluating undeclared facilities especially those related to the early parts of the nuclear fuel cycle such as uranium mining and milling also become a very important component of the verification activities. Development of newer methods and technologies that can strengthen verification protocols would therefore be very useful.

Though several studies have addressed the usefulness of satellite images for monitoring various parts of the nuclear fuel cycle4 not much work has been carried out to assess their utility for monitoring Uranium mining and milling operations.

While India is a declared nuclear weapon state the activities of her neighbours in the nuclear realm are shrouded in secrecy. This situation is often made more complicated by a lot of ambiguous information pouring in from a number of sources especially from the west. It is therefore difficult for a strategic analyst or policy researcher to make a meaningful assessment of the uranium production capacity of a country since there is very little reliable data.

Image processing specialists within the country have also not made any efforts to develop suitable algorithms that describe in detail how satellite images can be used to identify Uranium mines and mills. From a practical viewpoint there are at least two aspects of a mill operation that require attention from image analysts.

The first aspect is of course to clearly identify a mill site as a uranium mill site Several studies in the West have demonstrated that satellite images can be used to identify uranium mill sites at least to a limited extent. Building on this work, a more recent study used features associated with the various processes used for the extraction of Uranium that are visible in a satellite image for the identification of a Uranium Mill and this has been dealt exhaustively in an earlier NIAS report.

Once a mill has been identified as a Uranium Mill, it is also important to see whether methods can be developed to estimate the production capacity of such a mill. This report focuses on methods that can be used to estimate the production capacity of a Uranium mill after the mill has been identified as a Uranium producing mill. 

To read the complete report click here

Identification of Uranium Mill Sites From Open Source Satellite Images

Identification of Uranium Mill Sites From Open Source Satellite Images

Authors: S. Chandrashekar, Lalitha Sundaresan, Bhupendra Jassani

To read the complete report click here

To cite: S. Chandrashekar, Lalitha Sundaresan, Bhupendra Jassani. Identification of Uranium Mill Sites From Open Source Satellite Images. NIAS Report No. 34-2015. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, December 2015, available at http://isssp.in/identification-of-uranium-mill-sites-from-open-source-satellite-images/


Identifying Uranium Mill SitesOpenly available satellite imagery now provides a possible way to monitor nuclear fuel cycle activities. The early detection of new Uranium mining and milling operations and the routine monitoring of existing mines and mills using such imagery could make a valuable contribution to the oversight and monitoring function of organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

A review of the existing literature suggests that Uranium mines do not offer special spectral or spatial signatures that uniquely identify them in a satellite image. However the various processes involved in the conversion of Uranium ore into yellowcake, offers interesting possibilities for the use of satellite imagery.

A sample set of 13 mills across the world were selected for investigation. For each of the mill sites detailed process flow sheets were built up using information available in the public domain. Satellite imagery especially Google Earth (GE) Images were then studied to generate a set of interpretation keys. These keys link the operations in the mill sites to the observables in the satellite image. The shapes and sizes of the features seen and their position in the process chain provided a set of signatures that could be used to identify a Uranium mill.

Analysis of 13 Uranium mills across the world revealed the following:

  • The most commonly visible feature in the satellite image is the Counter Current Decantation (CCD)
    unit which is used to remove all suspended solids from the leached liquor.
  • The leaching operation which precedes the CCD operation provides a number of features that can be seen in the satellite image. These include leaching tanks, autoclaves, pug leaching setups, presence of smoke or steam emanating from buildings, chimneys of acid plants, chimneys linked to hot leaching, sulphur heaps, sulphur storage tanks or acid storage tanks. One or more of these features were observable in all 13 mills.
  • A solvent extraction or an ion exchange step or a Resin in Pulp step follows the CCD operation. While the ion exchange columns are easily identifiable in a satellite image, solvent extraction processes are not obvious. However, in some of the mills in our sample, repetitive patterns of buildings along with co-located solvent storage containers help to identify the solvent extraction process.
  • It is difficult to identify features that are unique to the last step of the extraction process-precipitation and drying. Wherever Ammonia is used as a precipitating agent ammonia tanks which have a characteristic shape provide a readily identifiable feature.

While the CCDs, leaching and ion exchange processes have clear spatial signatures, the other processes do not always provide robust signatures. Many other minerals such as Copper, Zinc, Manganese, Rare Earths (RE), Vanadium and Phosphorus may share similar extraction processes and provide similar signatures.

Our methodology for identifying a Uranium mill therefore had to be modified. If we could find features linked to the process steps in the extraction of these minerals that are different from the process steps of Uranium we would then be able to separate out Uranium mills from other mills that share some of the process steps.

Copper mills are the most likely candidates for mis-classification. The processing of copper tailings coming out of froth flotation or of low grade ores may exhibit the leaching – CCD – solvent extraction sequence that is seen in a Uranium mill. However the differentiating factor for the extraction of copper is that after solvent extraction it goes to an electro winning facility instead of a precipitation facility. The typical signature provided by an electro winning facility can therefore be used to separate out a Uranium mill from a copper mill.

Copper Tailings Plants are also often associated with large mainstream copper mills. Such copper mills are on an average four to five times larger in size. They also use froth flotation units and smelters that are easily identifiable in a satellite image. These can be further used as differentiators between copper and Uranium mills. Analysis of the Nchanga Copper Mill and some other copper mills confirms the logic of these discrimination features.

The application of this classification logic to the Olympic Dam Mill that produces copper with Uranium as a byproduct once again confirms the robustness of these discriminating features.
Zinc and Managanese may also use an acid leaching step – CCD – solvent extraction sequence as a part of their extraction process especially while processing the tailings. However, since the final operation will involve electro winning instead of the precipitation step which is characteristic of Uranium, such mills can also be differentiated from a Uranium mill. Scale, smelters and froth flotation units can also be used as additional discriminators.

The extraction of Rare Earths (RE) from RE containing ores also involves acid leaching. In the current scenario where RE concentration levels are on the higher side and made even higher through steps like froth flotation the absence of a CCD unit and the presence of multiple solvent extraction facilities should enable one to separate out a RE facility from a Uranium mill.

Mills that process ores containing both Uranium and Vanadium can be confused with a dedicated Uranium mill. However the presence of more than one solvent extraction sequence will enable one to separate out a combined Uranium Vanadium mill from a stand-alone Uranium mill.

Through the systematic application of this logic an image analyst will be able to identify a Uranium Mill as a Uranium Mill. By eliminating Copper, Zinc, Manganese, Rare Earths, Vanadium and Phosphorus extraction operations the probability that the CCD – Acid Leaching sequence that is seen in the satellite image is indeed Uranium is significantly enhanced. A decision tree created out of these empirical findings provides an easy-to-use algorithm for the identification of a Uranium mill from satellite imagery.

To read the complete report click here

North Korea’s 2016 Nuclear Test: An Analysis

North Korea’s 2016 Nuclear Test: An Analysis

Authors: Arun Vishwanathan, S. Chandrashekar, L.V. Krishnan and Lalitha Sundaresan

To read the complete report click here

To cite: Arun Vishwanathan, S. Chandrashekar, L.V. Krishnan and Lalitha Sundaresan. North Korea’s 2016 Nuclear Test: An Analysis. ISSSP Report No. 1-2016. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, January 10, 2016 available at http://isssp.in/north-koreas-2016-nuclear-test-an-analysis/


DPRK Nuclear Test Report CoverOn January 6, 2016, two days short of Kim JongUn’s birthday, the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted its fourth nuclear test. The test took place at 10:30 AM Local Time (01:30:00 UTC). An analysis of the seismic data from the test, clearly points to the fact that the earthquake (with a magnitude of 4.85 on the Richter scale) was the result of a nuclear test and not due to a natural earthquake. North Korea released a statement following the test which claimed that it had conducted a nuclear test and had exploded its first H-bomb.

North Korea has conducted four nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2016. the first test in October 2006 with a yield of ~1kT was a fizzle. This was followed by the second test in May 2009. Though there are differences over the exact yield of the test with estimates ranging from 2.4 kT to 5 kT it is considered to be a success. The third test in February 2013 had a yield around 10 kT.

It has been estimated that the four North Korean tests were conducted in the same area. Thus, it can safely be assumed that the overall geology in the area will be similar. This is an important fact which will allow for the comparison of the seismic signals of this test with those of the earlier tests.

Given the similarities in the seismic signatures of the 2013 and 2016 tests, it would be logical to conclude that the yield of the 2013 and the 2016 nuclear tests will be close to each other. While seismic data confirms that a nuclear device was tested, additional evidence is needed to confirm that it was a thermonuclear device.

While expert opinion around the world seems to be veering towards the view that the 2016 test was indeed that of a fission device, from a purely technical point of view one cannot rule out the possibility that the test was that of a small thermonuclear device. Radionuclide Monitoring is the smoking gun which establishes beyond all doubt that a nuclear weapon was tested and enables an analysis of the nature of the weapon tested.

Can North Korean missiles reach the United States?

Regardless of the type of the nuclear device tested, the very fact that North Korea conducted a successful nuclear test is dangerous. With four nuclear tests, Pyongyang is moving towards the capability to successfully miniaturize a nuclear warhead which would be deliverable by long-range nuclear missiles. If so, can North Korea target their main perceived enemy, the United States?

In this context it is important to take a closer look at the North Korea’s successful launch of a remote sensing satellite and placing it in a sun-synchronous orbit on December 12, 2012 on the Unha launch vehicle.

Though the North Korean Unha is designed as a space launcher, it can be suitably modified into a ballistic missile. Trajectory analysis using the NIAS trajectory modelling software – Quo Vadis – shows that a due North East launch of the Unha from a suitable location with a 1000kg payload (sufficient to carry a nuclear warhead) can reach all of Alaska and some parts of northern Canada. 

Click here to download KMZ file for 1000kg payload and Azimuth of 25 degrees.

Based on NIAS Quo Vadis Trajectory Simulation for 1000kg Payload, Azimuth 25 degrees

Based on NIAS Quo Vadis Trajectory Simulation Software for 1000kg Payload, Azimuth 25 degrees

With further reduction of the mass of the payload to say 800kg and launching at an Azimuth of 40 degrees, a North Korean ballistic missile will just be able to reach parts of western coast of the continental United States including the states of Washington, Oregon and northern parts of California.

Click here to download KMZ file for 800kg payload and Azimuth of 40 degrees.

Quo Vadis Trajectory Simulation for 800kg Payload, Azimuth 40 degrees

Based on NIAS Quo Vadis Trajectory Simulation Software for 800kg Payload, Azimuth 40 degrees

International Implications of the North Korean Test

The test is an indicator that Beijing does not have complete control over the actions of its North Korean ally. China would also be obviously concerned about a nuclear neighbor whose behavior is difficult to manage. Given this situation China would have doubts about North Korea’s role as a friendly buffer state between China and US dominated South Korea. This development would strengthen the US position vis-à-vis the China-Korea-US dynamic.

Implications of the North Korean Test for India

Though North Korea is geographically far away from India its growing nuclear weapon capabilities are of direct concern. This arises largely because of the close coupling of the Pakistani and North Korean missile and nuclear weapons programmes. There is no doubt that the Ghauri missile is a copy of the North Korean Nodong missile.

There is also evidence that Pakistani nuclear scientists have visited North Korea and had discussions with them.

Pakistan had tested nuclear devices in 1998. All of them were Uranium based devices which are more difficult to miniaturize. Though Pakistan has a major Plutonium based weapons development programme for miniaturization, the fact that it has not tested a Plutonium based device does not lend credibility to its miniaturization claims.

In light of the links between North Korea and Pakistan it is likely that the North Korean Plutonium based tests serve as surrogate tests for the Pakistani miniaturization drive. This has direct security implications for India.


About the Authors

Arun Vishwanathan is Assistant Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at arun_summerhll[at]yahoo.com

S. Chandrashekar is is JRD Tata Chair Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at chandrashekar.schandra[at]gmail.com

L.V. Krishnan retired as Director of Safety Research and Health Physics Programmes at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research at Kalpakkam in 1997. He is Adjunct Faculty, International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies. He can be contacted at krishnan97[at]gmail[dot]com

Lalitha Sundaresan is is Visiting Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. She can be reached at chandrashekar.schandra[at]gmail.com


Promise of Small Satellites for National Security

Promise of Small Satellites for National Security

Author: Rajaram Nagappa

To read the complete report click here

To cite: Nagappa, Rajaram. The Promise of Small Satellites for National Security. NIAS Report No. 33-2015. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, December 2015, available at http://isssp.in/promise-of-small-satellites-for-national-security/

Small Satellites

India is one of the few spacefaring nations having demonstrated capability in both launch vehicle and satellite domains. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) functioning under the Department of Space is the responsible agency and has established the capability to plan and implement end-to end missions. The main thrust of ISRO is aimed at carrying out satellite-based applications for societal benefits.

These include satellite missions for communication, earth observation, meteorology and regional navigation. ISRO also carries out scientific missions, deep space missions and offers commercial launch services. Technology improvements have been steadily incorporated and in the earth observation satellites, better than one metre resolution has been achieved. Because of the dual use nature of space applications, the security services in the country have derived information useful their purpose from the ISRO space programmes. 

Among the launch vehicles, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is operational and has a good track record. The Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) should also be reaching operational status shortly and while the GSLV Mk-3 is still in the development stage. ISRO is a civilian organisation and very rightly prioritizes its mandated tasks. Consequently, the space services currently do not cater to the needs of military space, which are evolving now. Though ISRO has the technical capability, there are capacity constraints in both satellite building and launch services.

Envisaged military space requirements will include exclusive communication satellites, electronic intelligence satellites (ELINT) and constellation of optical and radar imaging satellites for continuous intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) activities. Small satellites are playing an important role in space applications. They are faster to build, are cost effective and better as they benefit from the use of latest technologies. Small satellite platforms can be adapted for military missions involving optical and radar imaging applications with good resolution as also for ELINT operations. Many examples of international practices bear this out. For increasing the launch frequency, a small satellite launch vehicle can be configured using stages of the Agni missiles and/or ISRO solid rocket stages. Such a launch vehicle would be capable of placing a satellite of mass 350 kg in a nearly circular 500 km polar orbit – quite adequate for military space missions.

The report surveys the small satellite capabilities to meet military space requirement. Use of available standard small satellite buses is suggested to cut down the development time. Major involvement of industry in both satellite and small launch vehicle realization and integration services is suggested to overcome the capacity constraint. It is also suggested that advantage be taken of mobility and different launch locations to carry out the flight missions.

China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites & the ASBM: October 2015 Update

China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites & the Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile: October 2015 Update

Authors: S. Chandrashekar and Soma Perumal

To read the complete report in PDF click here

Yaogan Oct 2015 UpdateWith the recent launches of the Yaogan 26 and Yaogan 27 satellites China has demonstrated its ability to routinely identify, locate and track an Aircraft Carrier Group (ACG) on the high seas. This space capability is an important component of an Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) System that China has set up.

The current operational satellite constellation consists of ELINT satellites, satellites carrying Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors as well as satellites carrying optical imaging sensors.

Based on the orbit characteristics, their local time of equatorial crossing and other related parameters, these satellites can be grouped into different categories that perform the various functions for identifying, locating and tracking the ACG.

Yaogan 9 (Yaogan 9A, 9B, 9C), Yaogan 16 (16A, 16B, 16C), Yaogan 17 (17A, 17B, 17C), Yaogan 20 (20A, 20B, 20C) and Yaogan25 (25A, 25B, 25C) are the five triplet cluster equipped with ELINT sensors that provide broad area surveillance over the Oceans. With a coverage radius of about 3500 Km, they provide the first coarse fix for identifying and locating an ACG in the Pacific Ocean. Yaogan 20 and Yaogan 25 may be replacements for the Yaogan 9 and the Yaogan 16 that may be nearing the end of their lives.

Yaogan 23, Yaogan 10, Yaogan 18, Yaogan 14 and Yaogan 21 are the current operational satellites carrying a SAR sensor. With Local times of crossing of 02 00, 06 00, 10 00, 14 00 hours and 1730 hours, they provide all weather as well as day and night imaging capabilities over the regions of interest.

The Yaogan 26 which had replaced the Yaogan 12 which in turn had replaced the Yaogan 5 has the orbital characteristics of a SAR mission but its local time of crossing is 10 30 AM. This is very close to the 10 00 hours crossing time of the Yaogan 18 SAR satellite. This could therefore be either a SAR mission or a high resolution optical imaging mission. From the orbit characteristics this may possibly carry a SAR.

Yaogan 11, Yaogan 4, Yaogan 24 and Yaogan 7 constitute the high resolution optical satellites in the current constellation. The sensors they carry may have resolutions of between 1 to 3 m. Their local times of crossing of 09 00, 11 00, 13 30, and 15 00 hours respectively ensure favourable illumination conditions for their imaging missions.

Yaogan 27, Yaogan 19, Yaogan 22 and Yaogan 15 satellites with local times of crossing of 09 30, 10 30, 13 30 and 14 30 hours respectively are optical imaging satellites with medium resolution (3 to 10 m) capabilities. They act as a broad area coverage complement for the SAR as well as the high resolution optical imaging satellites. Yaogan 27 is a replacement for the Yaogan 8 that may be nearing the end of its life.

Using typical sensor geometries and the two line orbital elements available from public sources the ability of the current constellation to identify, locate and track the ACG was simulated.

Assuming that any three of the ELINT clusters are operational at any given point in time the ELINT satellites typically make 18 contacts in a day with the moving target. The maximum period for which the target remains outside the reach of the ELINT satellites is about 90 minutes in a day.

The SAR and the optical imaging satellites together typically provide 24 satellite passes over the target. About 16 targeting opportunities, during which the uncertainty in the target’s location is less than 10 km, are available in a day.

The analysis and the simulation results suggest that China has in place an operational ASBM system that can identify, locate, track and destroy an Aircraft Carrier in the Pacific Ocean. This seems to be an important component of a larger Chinese Access and Area Denial Strategy focused around a conflict over Taiwan.

China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites & the ASBM : January 2015 Update

China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites & the Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile: January 2015 Update

Authors: S. Chandrashekar and Soma Perumal

To read the complete report in PDF click here

Yaogan Jan 2015With the recent launches of the Yaogan 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25 satellites China has augmented its advanced space capabilities to routinely identify, locate and track an Aircraft Carrier Group (ACG) on the high seas. This space capability is an important component of an Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) System that China has set up.

The current operational satellite constellation consists of ELINT satellites, satellites carrying Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors as well as satellites carrying optical imaging sensors.

Based on the orbit characteristics, their local time of equatorial crossing and other related parameters, these satellites can be grouped into different categories that perform the various functions for identifying, locating and tracking the ACG.

Yaogan 9 (Yaogan 9A, 9B, 9C), Yaogan 16 (16A, 16B, 16C), Yaogan 17 (17A, 17B, 17C), Yaogan 20 (20A, 20B, 20C) and Yaogan25 (25A, 25B, 25C) are the five triplet cluster equipped with ELINT sensors that provide broad area surveillance over the Oceans. With a coverage radius of about 3500 Km, they provide the first coarse fix for identifying and locating an ACG in the Pacific Ocean. Yaogan 20 and Yaogan 25 may be replacements for the Yaogan 9 and the Yaogan 16 that may be nearing the end of their lives.

Yaogan 23, Yaogan 10, Yaogan 18, Yaogan 14 and Yaogan 21 are the current operational satellites carrying a SAR sensor. With Local times of crossing of 02 00, 06 00, 10 00, 14 00 hours and 1730 hours, they provide all weather as well as day and night imaging capabilities over the regions of interest.

Yaogan Satellite being launched (China TV Website)

Long March-2C rocket taking off with the Yaogan Satellite from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center (Source: China TV Website)

Yaogan 11, Yaogan 4, Yaogan 24 and Yaogan 7 constitute the high resolution optical satellites in the current constellation. The sensors they carry may have resolutions of between 1 to 3 m. Their local times of crossing of 09 00, 11 00, 13 30, and 15 00 hours respectively ensure favourable illumination conditions for their imaging missions.

Yaogan 8, Yaogan 19, Yaogan 22 and Yaogan 15 satellites with local times of crossing of 09 30, 10 30, 13 30 and 14 30 hours respectively are optical imaging satellites with medium resolution (3 to 10 m) capabilities. They act as a broad area coverage complement for the SAR as well as the high resolution optical imaging satellites.

The Yaogan 12 which replaced the Yaogan 5 has the orbital characteristics of a SAR mission but its local time of crossing is 10 30 AM. This is very close to the 10 00 hours crossing time of the Yaogan 18 SAR satellite. This could therefore be either a SAR mission or a high resolution optical imaging mission.

Using typical sensor geometries and the two line orbital elements available from public sources the ability of the current constellation to identify, locate and track the ACG was simulated.

Assuming that any three of the ELINT clusters are operational at any given point in time the ELINT satellites typically make 18 contacts in a day with the moving target. The maximum period for which the target remains outside the reach of the ELINT satellites is about 90 minutes in a day.

The SAR and the optical imaging satellites together typically provide 24 satellite passes over the target. About 16 targeting opportunities, during which the uncertainty in the target’s location is less than 10 km, are available in a day.

The analysis and the simulation results suggest that China has in place an operational ASBM system that can identify, locate, track and destroy an Aircraft Carrier in the Pacific Ocean. This seems to be an important component of a larger Chinese Access and Area Denial Strategy focused around a conflict over Taiwan.

Launch of Pakistani Shaheen-II (Hatf-VI) Ballistic Missile on November 13, 2014: An Analysis

Launch of Pakistani Shaheen-II (Hatf-VI) Ballistic Missile on November 13, 2014: An Analysis

Authors: Rajaram Nagappa, S. Chandrashekar, N. Ramani, Lalitha Sundaresan and Viswesh Rammohan
To read the complete report in PDF click here

shaheen II Nov 2014 launchA launch of the Shaheen II (Hatf-VI) ballistic missile was carried out by the Pakistan Army Strategic Forces Command on 13 November 2014. What is significant about this launch is that it is taking place after a gap of nearly six and half years. The last announced Shaheen-II launch had taken place on 19 and 21 April 2008. The range claimed in those flights was higher at 2000 km.

A related issue is that the launch was conducted over the Arabian Sea and the Notice to Mariners/Airmen issued in advance identified missile launch window and the coordinates of the impact zones. With the available information from open sources an analysis is carried out of this flight and where relevant comparison is carried out with the launch of April 2008.

Discussion

Based on available information, it would appear that the Shaheen-II launched on 13 November 2014 performed a successful flight. The Shaheen-II flight occurred after a gap of 6.5 years. The range of 1500 km indicated in the press release fits with the announced impact zones. The following questions come to mind:

  1. It is quite likely that the design range of the missile is only 1500 km. NAVAREA warnings for the 2008 flights are non-existent and therefore of it can be surmised that these flights were carried overland from Tilla Range. The 2000 km range claimed for these flights could therefore be overstated.
  2. If this is so, our estimate of the propellant and inert mass of the stage motors should also be wrong. If the propulsion parameters are overestimated by us, it would mean either a) the diameter of 1.4 m of the missile is in error or b) the design is not very efficiently carried out.
  3. Alternately, the propulsion parameters derived are nearly correct and the actual range of the missile is approximately 2133 km. A lofted trajectory was attempted in the November 2014 flight to get a lower range.
  4. Accepted practice is to qualify a missile system for its nominal performance. What is the reason therefore for trying a lofted trajectory, in a developmental mission, especially as there is no range constraint?
  5. The long interval in the resumption of the Shaheen-II flight is indicative of a major technical issue, which may have taken time to resolve.  
  6. The possibility of technical problem is corroborated by a recent report emanating from Hong Kong.
  7. Shaheen-II, unlike the other missiles in the Pakistani arsenal is a two-stage system. Design and performance issues could arise in respect of : (a) sequencing of staging events, (b) transfer of control at the end of first stage burn, (c) vehicle bending modes and structural design, (d) management of vehicle vibration – e.g. issues relating to control system/structure interaction, (e) thermal management of reentry heating to name a few. If the April 2008 flights had brought out any such inadequacies, the planning of the corrective action required, its realization and implementation could explain the long timespan in the resumption of the missile flight. It is possible that remedial action has not reflected in changes to the overall configuration and dimension and therefore is not discernible in the images of the flight vehicle.
  8. The changes may however, have impact on the inert mass of the vehicle and the throw weight, thus impacting the performance.
  9. Procedural issues, lack of priority or financial/resource constraints could also be causative factor for the delay.

In short, the long time gap can only be explained assuming that the Shaheen-II flight of April 2008 exhibited some major anomaly in one or more of the subsystems (e.g. issues relating to staging, control, vehicle flexibility and coupling effects, reentry thermo-structural) and it has taken Pakistan a long time to diagnose, correct (perhaps with Chinese help) and qualify the corrective measures. The corrective measures in turn may have impacted on the inert mass and consequently on the performance. Additionally, if the PSAC has also been incorporated, the development and qualification of such a system would have taken up time, besides adding mass to the missile throw weight.

Conclusion

The Shaheen – II flight. Of 13 November 2014 is analysed. A launch location west of Somniani range is identified and corroborated with assessment of the historical images. The flight over open areas of the Arabian Sea seems to be a logical outcome after the failure of Ghauri flight launched over land in November 2012. The range of the missile has been simulated and matched with the impact location given in the NAVAREA IX warnings. Though a lofted trajectory simulation shows good match with the known impact locations, reasons for justifying such a trajectory is elusive. Reasons for the long gap are difficult to explain in the absence of confirmatory data and can only be speculated to be a combination involving technology issues, correction, requalification and use of PSAC as well as availability of resources and priorities.

Conducting Academic and Policy Research related to National and International Security Issues
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