Chinese Missile Early Warning System-with Russian Help-May be Nearing Completion

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A Chinese missile early warning system –based on the Russian Tundra satellites and Voronezh ground-based radar stations may be closer to completion going by recent events and statements.

“Russia is helping China to build a missile attack warning system that could significantly increase China’s defense capabilities,” a commentary in the semi-official Global Times newspaper said Wednesday as part of an article on China-Russia defence cooperation following the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) contingent participation in the June 25 Russian Victory Day Parade.

The article recalled a 2019 statement by Russian President Putin that his country was helping China build a missile detection system.

Separately, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense said June 24 that China is firmly opposed to the US deploying intermediate-range missiles in the Asian-Pacific region. Senior Colonel Wu Qian, stated in the official news website of the PLA “If the US insists on the deployment, it will be a provocation at China’s doorstep. China will never sit idle and will take all necessary countermeasures,” he said.

With the PLA flexing its muscles against Taiwan, Japan, in the South China Sea and against India; having anti-missile systems such as the Russian built S-400 may need to be supplemented by a missile warning system that will provide advance information of the missile’s speed, trajectory and time-to-target so that a decision can be taken as to when and how to intercept it.

Last month, Russia set up the basic space segment of its ‘Kupol,’ missile attack early warning system to continuously monitor US territory for possible ballistic missile launches.

“With the launch of the fourth Tundra satellite from the Plesetsk cosmodrome on May 22, the Kupol integrated space system has been set up to track launches of ballistic missiles and space rockets from the territory of the United States,” TASS reported quoting sources in the Russian Aerospace Forces.

The Tundra satellites are equipped with infrared surveillance devices to track with high precision missiles launches against the background of the Earth’s surface.  They can track the trajectory of aballistic missiles and predict where the warhead will fall.

The first three Tundra satellites were launched in 2015, 2017 and 2019 and the latest one in May 2020. A further 5 satellite launches are planned which will enable the Kupol to track missile launches from anywhere in the world.

The Kupol missile attack early warning system consists of the space segment that currently comprises four Tundra satellites and the ground-based component that consists of Voronezh radar stations.

Following the set up of the Kupol integrated space system in Russia, China could be setting up the Voronezh radar stations in its territory to acquire data from the Tundra satellites and track missiles. The Voronezh radar stations are designed to be modular and can be easily assembled and dismantled to escape getting targeted.