Tag Archives: Soma Perumal

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.

Most Read in 2014: Top 10 ISSSP Analyses

ISSSP Reflections No. 23, January 1, 2015

As we ring in 2015, a look back at the Top 10 analyses which were popular amongst our readers in 2014 is in order. All of us at ISSSP wish our readers a Very Happy, Healthy and Peaceful 2015 !!


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1 | Nuclear Weapons and Deterrence

Authors: Arun Vishwanathan, S. Chandrashekar and Rajaram Nagappa

Agni V--621x414In an article in the FAS Strategic Security Blog, Dr. Hans M. Kristensen has quoted various statements by scientists of the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) related to modernisation of India’s missile program to arrive at the conclusion that the development and deployment of longer range missiles with multiple warheads and quick-launch capability would “indicate that India is gradually designing its way out of its so-called minimum deterrence doctrine towards a more capable nuclear posture.”

Though the arguments advanced in the paper appear logical and persuasive, they remain anchored in the Cold War logic. The two-party logic cannot be applied to understand the complex dynamic that underpins the relationship between the Sino-Pak alliance and India. Such a caricature of the more complex dynamic tends to misrepresent the realities of the relationship between these countries.

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2 | India and Sri Lanka: Battle Over Fishing  Ground

Author: M. Mayilvaganan

fishermen_301213Fishery resources have always sustained fishermen communities in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, however over time these resources have become the object of “uncommon controversy.” The battle over fishing in the Palk Straits especially for tuna, prawns, lobsters, blue swimming crabs and cuttlefish is a classic political maritime confrontation: a showdown between the state government, India and Sri Lanka which, like past disagreements, snowballs into a major diplomatic row between two countries. With the continuing trend of attacks and arrests of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan authorities, the issue is slowly approaching a ‘crescendo’, with no solution in sight.

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3 | Revamping India’s National Security Structure: Agenda for the Indian Government

Author: Arun Vishwanathan

Revamping-India-s-National-Security-Structure-Cover-212x300The 2014 elections for the Sixteenth Lok Sabha saw the Indian electorate delivering a positive, decisive mandate to a single party after a gap of almost three decades. An important area which is in need for urgent attention from the Narendra Modi-government is India’s national security structure. Despite past efforts at reform, India’s national security structure continues to be plagued by absence of coordination, turf battles and paucity of human resources. Many of these problems are symptomatic of systemic ills which therefore require a holistic relook.

In order for India to achieve its national interests it should be able to work in a coordinated fashion. This necessitates a holistic revamping of the existing national security apparatus and its workings. Putting in place a mechanism that develops long-term strategies and coordinates their execution is imperative as is and strengthening the National Security Advisor’s (NSA’s) support structure. In addition, such a revamp should also include reforms to the existing higher defence organisation and intelligence setup. This report will flag some of the important issues the incoming government needs to focus on in order to strengthen India’s national security architecture.

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4 | Russian Intervention in Crimea & Geopolitical Consequences: Legal Perspectives

Author: Himanil Raina

russia-crimeaThe ongoing crisis in Ukraine which has seen the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea has primarily generated two important legal questions. The first one relates to whether Russia has violated international law with respect to the non-use of force, respect for the territorial sovereignty and political independence of Ukraine. The second question relates to the legality of the referendum in Crimea whereby it has chosen to become a part of Russia.

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5 | HATF-IX / NASR Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Implications for Indo-Pak Deterrence

Authors: Rajaram Nagappa, Arun Vishwanathan and Aditi Malhotra

Nasr Hatf IX Pakistan Tactical Battlefield Nuclear Weapon Arun Vishwanathan NagappaOn April 19, 2011 Pakistan conducted the first test flight of Hatf-IX (NASR) missile. The Pakistani Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) described the missile as a ‘Short Range Surface to Surface Ballistic Missile’. Till date there have been three tests of the missile system on April 19, 2011, May 29, 2012 and February 11, 2013.

Following the Pakistani tests and claims of NASR being a nuclear capable missile, there has been a lot of analysis pointing to the dangers it poses for Indo-Pak deterrence. However, despite the large amount of literature which has come out following the NASR test in April 2011, not much attention has been directed at carrying out a holistic assessment of the tactical nuclear weapons issue. It is this crucial gap that that this report seeks to address.

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6 | China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites & the ASBM

Authors: S. Chandrashekar and Soma Perumal

Launch of Yaogan 17With the recent launch of the Yaogan 19 satellite China has in place an advanced space capability to 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 19 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.

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7 | India’s Pipeline Diplomacy: Case of Lost Opportunities

Author: Sanket Kulkarni

pipe2_070612024522India’s pipeline diplomacy over the past year has been a mixed bag. All the existing cross-border pipeline projects, viz Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) Gas Pipeline, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Gas Pipeline and Myanmar-Bangladesh-India (MBI) Gas Pipeline have made some headway. India’s participation in these projects will contribute towards improving its energy scenario. The Government of India has already identified the importance of natural gas as a major contributor in India’s future energy mix.

Currently, the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) route is being used to procure natural gas from abroad. But, in comparison to the LNG route, pipelines are considered a more viable method of transporting natural gas. This is because the LNG route needs an elaborate infrastructure, at the supplier’s and receiver’s ends, thereby increasing the costs of energy transportation. Despite the obvious advantages of pipeline projects, the existing proposals face challenges owing to the unique geopolitical and security considerations prevalent in South Asia.

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8 | Asia-Pacific Power Dynamics: Strategic Implications and Options for India

Authors: M. Mayilvaganan, Aditi Malhotra, Viswesh R., and Sadhavi Chauhan

seminar coverIn the emerging geopolitical discourse today, the Asia-Pacific region has emerged as a major centre of geostrategic interest. Accompanying this change in perception is a change in scope, with strategists not just considering the typical Indian Ocean, but also the western, and sometimes even central Pacific Ocean. The Asia-Pacific ranges from East Africa to the western and central Pacific, including Japan and Australia. Asia-Pacific concept reflected a new reality shaped by the rise of China and India, a revitalized Japan, along with the continued primacy of the United States and also signifies the accelerating economic and security connections between the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean thus creating a single strategic system.

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9 | Evolution of Solid Propellant Rockets in India

Author: Rajaram Nagappa

Solid Rocket Propellant Rocket IndiaHistorical narration of technological achievements is more an exception than the rule in India. The narration in respect of rocket development in the country generally follows this trend with a few notable exceptions covering the developments in the Indian Space Programme. The development of defence rockets has hardly been touched upon. Propulsion forms a major subsystem of the space launch vehicles and missiles, and today, India boasts of a significant capability and capacity in this discipline.

The solid propellant rocket technology in India is essentially home-grown and has found wide application and adaptation in sounding rockets, launch vehicles, and ballistic missiles. While the requirements of solid propellant rockets for the space programme have reached a maturation phase, the requirement of solid propellant rockets for missile applications are diverse in their characteristics, and performance needs continue on a demand and development trajectory.

This book highlights the development of solid propellant rockets and the main solid rocket subsystems used in the space programme and ballistic missiles with emphasis on the indigenous nature of development.

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10 | India Vietnam Cooperation: Implementing India’s Act East Policy

Author: Sadhavi Chauhan

sushma visit vietnamWith the US pivot to Asia challenging China’s regional dominance, global geopolitical rivalry has shifted to Asia. India and Vietnam involved in territorial conflicts with China would be considered as natural supporters of USA’s return to Asia. However, both these countries have adopted a balanced approach making a conscious effort to not get involved. As C. Raja Mohan and Rory Medcalf highlight in their recent paper, “these nations don’t want to put their security at the mercy of the fluctuating relationship between America and China.” Consequently, both the countries have decided to take charge of their security and have been strengthening bilateral ties, in particular, security cooperation.

The recent visit of India’s Minister of External Affairs, Susham Swaraj to Hanoi from 24-26 August highlighted this trend. During her meeting with the Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Swaraj unveiled a shift in India’s foreign policy from “Look East” to “Act East”. She identified this as a crucial step to escalate New Delhi’s bilateral ties with its South East Asian neighbour(s). In this context, it is crucial to take stock of recent developments in India-Vietnam relations and in light of this evidence, see whether the change in nomenclature is just verbal jugglery or more than that.

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North Korea’s Successful Space Launch

North Korea’s Successful Space Launch

Authors: S.Chandrashekar, N.Ramani, Rajaram Nagappa and Soma Perumal

To read the complete report in pdf click here

North Korea Space LaunchOn December 12 2012 North Korea surprised the world by successfully placing a remote sensing satellite in a sun synchronous orbit using an indigenously developed launcher called the Unha.

Using publicly available information and images of the Unha launcher as well as the specific information on the first stage put out by South Korea after recovering and analyzing the debris from the first stage, the International Strategic & Security Studies Programme (ISSSP) at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) attempted to reconstruct the trajectory of the successful launch.

For the December 12 2012 launch of the Unha, a lot of information was publicly available or reasonable estimates could be made from images of the launcher. This enabled us to reconstruct the trajectory flown by the Unha launcher with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Through an iterative process we were able to obtain a trajectory that matches well with the midpoints of the notified impact zones as well as the achieved orbit.

The analysis suggests that North Korea is somewhat more advanced than either Iran or Pakistan in space and missile technologies and products. This assessment, more than the actual performance of the Unha launcher as a missile, must be a source of considerable concern to North Korea’s immediate neighbours as well as the United States.

The available evidence based on the recovery of the first stage debris by South Korea indicates that the first stage of the Unha Launcher comprises a cluster of four Nodong Engines that have a common turbo pump and common tanks for the kerosene propellant and the RFNA oxidizer. The first stage sea level specific impulse that best fits the trajectory is only 229 seconds as compared to the initial assumed value of 232 seconds. This is consistent with a Kerosene RFNA fuel and oxidizer combination typical of the original Scud A Soviet era technology that has been modified and scaled up for a space booster application.

The second stage of the Unha does not use a Nodong engine as assumed by most analysts. We found that the second stage vacuum specific impulse that best fits the trajectory is about 270 seconds. This is not compatible with the 250 to 255 seconds vacuum specific impulse of the Nodong that uses a kerosene RFNA fuel oxidizer combination. The second stage most probably uses a UDMH RFNA fuel and oxidizer combination that is compatible with the Scud B technology of the Soviet era. Though it would have been easier for the North Korea to have used a regular missile engine for the Unha second stage they choose to develop an engine and stage specifically designed for a satellite mission. This indicates a substantial in-house capability that has built upon imported technology to not only improve it but to use the knowledge acquired to scaleup, re-design, develop, test and launch a new stage.

The ISSSP’s in-house Trajectory Model also suggests that the third stage uses an advanced engine with a specific impulse in the range of 288 to 290 seconds. The results also suggest that this is a light weight stage with a high propellant load factor of around 86%. The engine that powers this stage uses an advanced propellant oxidizer combination such as UDMH and Nitrogen Tetroxide.

This propellant and oxidizer combination was not used in the Scud series development. North Korea’s possession of this stage indicates that they have the knowledge and capabilities to indigenously design, develop, test and integrate such an advanced engine and stage into a space launcher. This is no mean achievement for a supposedly backward country like North Korea.

Though the Unha has been primarily designed for a space application it can also be used as a missile. The range of the Unha with a 1000 kg payload launched due north towards the US or Canada is 5950 Km. A due North East launch from the Launch site with a 1000 kg payload (sufficient for a nuclear warhead) can reach most parts of Alaska.

Apart from these hard technological achievements related to the development of the propulsion units and the stages for the Unha, the launch provides visible evidence that North Korea has been able to integrate these hard technologies with the softer technologies of mission planning and management of a complex project. The vehicle trajectory including the maneuvers after liftoff, the pitching down of the second stage after first stage separation, maintaining control during the fairly long coast phase, the yaw maneuver of the third stage and the final injection into a fairly good sun synchronous orbit shows a strong and well developed internal organization of effort within North Korea. The division of work and the integration of these various diverse subsystems and components into a whole launcher and the planning and execution of the launch mission show that North Korea has made commendable progress in its mastery of missile and space launcher products and technologies.

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