CHINA has surged ahead in the multi-billion pound race to rule space ahead of World War 3 – after the US’s own GPS system was grounded by delays.
The frustrating setbacks means there is now a FOUR YEAR window where President Xi Jinping’s forces could call the shots if a full-scale conflict broke out.
A Chinese J-15 fighter jet – known as the Flying Shark – unleashes a GPS-guided missile[/caption]
GPS III was approved by the US Congress in 2000 and the first satellite was expected to launch back in 2014.
However, technical issues with developing the payload contributed to the four-year delay, reports CBC News.
However, Beijing went live with its own £7 billion navigation system two years AHEAD of schedule last week to rival America’s long-serving GPS system.
It now has more than 40 satellites operating in space compared to America’s 31 – after launching 18 in 2018 alone.
The news comes as military tensions between China and the US which have led to calls for the People’s Liberation Army to prepare for war.
Beijing’s new satellite system – called Beidou – has been developed by the Asian superpower two year early so its mighty military no longer has to depend on US space tech.
And even though the US has also recently launched its own latest satellites, it’s been revealed they may not be of full military use until 2022.
A March-3C carrier rocket carrying Beidou satellite lifts off at the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre[/caption]
China’s new gps system enable it to communicate and track nuclear submarines[/caption]
Global positioning satellites are seen as crucial to the world’s military as they are needed to guide missiles and to coordinate strikes against enemy targets.
Some critics in the US are now concerned that Beidou will allow the Chinese military to deploy and use guided weapons that could target US and allied strategic installations and forces, even if other GNSS systems such as GPS were denied to them.
“China is almost certainly equipping its ballistic and cruise missiles to operate with both GPS and Beidou,” said a report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Committee.
If this is the case then it means that the Chinese military “could switch to Beidou to guide a missile to its target if GPS were denied, and China would also be able to attack an adversary’s access to GPS without disrupting its own capabilities,” the report said.
The navigational satellites are now seen as key to Presdient Xi Jinping’s strategy to build a modern military to rival that of the US.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a US National Security satellite takes off from Cape Canaveral, Florida[/caption]
December’s Space X launch of the GPS III was seen as a huge milestone in the US Air Force’s (USAF) quest to upgrade the global positioning system.
However, the satellite was actually supposed to launch in 2014 and the delays mean it may now not fully come online for another four years.
Operational use of the system depends fully on the development of the receiver stations based on the ground – many of which are reportedly nowhere near ready.
Experts point out a navigation satellite is nothing more than space junk if there isn’t the hardware on Earth technically capable of receiving its signals.
How China's new satellites could determine who wins a World War 3
The new satellities will enable the Chinese military to identify, track and strike US ships, increasing their tracking ability by up to 1,000 times.
They make it possible for rockets to strike accurately enough to directly hit and potentially destroy deeply buried and hardened missile bunkers.
They are also key for precision-guided missiles, smart bombs, navigation and the operation of ships, other vehicles and the coordination of troops.
Operation Desert Storm (1990-1991) was the combat debut of GPS for missile warning systems, advanced radar and precision laser-guided bombs.
Now the military uses weapons called Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) which have adjustable fins sot they can be guided to hit their targets.
Army chiefs across the globe currently depend on the 31 satellites, in six different orbital planes above Earth, to provide continual navigation signals
The GPS III’s military upgrades in particular require new ground control stations, a replacement effort called OCX which is going to cost Donald Trump’s military £4.5bn – DOUBLE the original estimate.
The USAF scheduled OCX to enter service in October 2016, but the date to start any actual broadcasts is rumoured to have been delayed until 2022.
That news – which comes amid the growing militarisation of space – has been declared “worryingly unacceptable” by military commanders reports Popular Mechanics.
Now the Air Force and military experts from Lockheed are working around-the-clock to get America’s online by the end of this year.
America’s Lockheed Martin satellite beams higher-power positioning, navigation and timing signals around the world
In the meantime, Beidou – which has already been sold to the Russians – is already operational in China and neighbouring regions and will be globally available by 2020.
“They don’t want to depend on the US’s GPS,” said Marshall Kaplan, a professor in the aerospace engineering department at the University of Maryland.
“The Chinese don’t want to be subject to something that we can shut off.”
China started developing Beidou in the 90s and the total bill is expected to reach an estimated £8bn by 2020.
GPS missiles could be used to take out the US’s naval fleet[/caption]
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One of only four global navigation satellite systems, along with America’s GPS, Russia’s Glonass and Europe’s Galileo, it is part of the country’s wider efforts to become a world leader in space-related tech.
Beijing has already launched 18 military-capable satellites, taking the total in operation to more than 40. A further 11 are expected to be launched before the 2020 global roll-out.
China has already shipped more than 70m Beidou civilian operating systems to more than 90 countries.