China has reportedly used green lasers fired from satellites to prepare for a surprise hypersonic missile attack on America, experts have warned. The laser was recorded flashing for a brief moment by a livestream camera attached to a telescope on top of a mountain on one of Hawaii’s islands. Though at first, the light was mistaken to be coming from a NASA satellite, it was later confirmed to be from a Chinese pollution monitoring satellite named Daqi-1.
Questions have arisen as to why the Chinese would be monitoring pollution in Hawaii, especially given the large US military presence there. The satellite’s presence also comes after China recently flew a giant balloon over the US that was believed to be a spy tool, despite Beijing’s claims that it was a civilian weather airship.
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Experts warn that the Chinese activity could pave the way for a repeat surprise attack on the US. Rick Fisher, an expert on China’s military at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, stated that the satellite is “a classic case of a Chinese dual use” of civilian technology that also serves military missions. “The Daqi-1’s lasers specifically monitor the density of the atmosphere and can detect different wind directions. This is precisely the data required for China to accurately target small multiple reentry vehicle nuclear warheads or more recent Hypersonic Glide Vehicle warheads,” he explained.
China has built up a huge arsenal of hypersonic missiles aimed at neutralizing the power of the US Navy, known as ‘carrier killers,’ and attacking American facilities in the Pacific. Fisher believes that Hawaii is at risk of another surprise attack, this time by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. “Indeed there is an increasing Chinese threat to Hawaii, but in a general war over Taiwan, the PLA will also likely target US facilities in Japan, South Korea, Alaska, and California,” he said.
The livestream camera that recorded the green laser was placed on top of the Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea, which is part of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. Footage shows green beams dancing and sweeping across the night sky. “It’s a Chinese satellite that is measuring pollutants, among other things,” said Roy Gal, from the University of Hawaii Institute of Astronomy. However, former chief of staff of Marine Forces Pacific, Ray L’Heureux, questioned the need for China to collect data on pollutants on this side of the Pacific, given that they are some of the most prolific polluters on the planet.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing have been escalating over the issue of Taiwan, which China believes is a breakaway province and not a sovereign nation. Recently, reports of Chinese spy balloons being shot down over the US caused a separate scandal. Nicholas Eftimiades, a retired veteran US Department of Defense intelligence official and a visiting senior research fellow at King’s College London, has warned of China’s “whole of society” approach to espionage. “You use lasers to measure different levels of the upper and lower atmosphere. You can identify wind patterns and density layers. This has applications for many forms of aviation ranging from civil transport and hypersonic missiles,” he explained.
Eftimiades has also raised concerns about China’s activity in the region. “Was China doing this satellite-based lazing across the Pacific before and after Hawaii? If not, we can probably rule out atmospheric testing for environmental purposes. Why would China care? What would be the scientific and environmental reasons China would care about the atmospheric conditions in Hawaii?” he questioned.
As tensions between China and the US continue to mount, experts warn that the threat of a surprise attack cannot be taken lightly. The use of advanced technology such as satellites with green lasers only adds to the complexity of the situation.
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