Friday, September 29, 2006

Telegraph | News | Beijing secretly fires lasers to disable US satellites

Telegraph | News | Beijing secretly fires lasers to disable US satellites:

"China has secretly fired powerful laser weapons designed to disable American spy satellites by 'blinding' their sensitive surveillance devices, it was reported yesterday.

How it works

The hitherto unreported attacks have been kept secret by the Bush administration for fear that it would damage attempts to co-opt China in diplomatic offensives against North Korea and Iran.

Sources told the military affairs publication Defense News that there had been a fierce internal battle within Washington over whether to make the attacks public. In the end, the Pentagon's annual assessment of the growing Chinese military build-up barely mentioned the threat.

'After a contentious debate, the White House directed the Pentagon to limit its concern to one line,' Defense News said.

The document said that China could blind American satellites with a ground-based laser firing a beam of light to prevent spy photography as they pass over China.

According to senior American officials: 'China not only has the capability, but has exercised it.' American satellites like the giant Keyhole craft have come under attack 'several times' in recent years.

Although the Chinese tests do not aim to destroy American satellites, the laser attacks could make them useless over Chinese territory."

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