Chinese Satellites provides bandwidth for US drones and US dependence on Chinese Satellites could grow

U.S. troops operating on the African continent are now using the recently-launched Chinese Apstar-7 satellite to keep in touch and share information.

Every new drone feed and every new soldier with a satellite radio creates more appetite for bandwidth — an appetite the military can’t hope to fill with military spacecraft alone. To try to keep up, the Pentagon has leased bandwidth from commercial carriers for more than a decade. And the next decade should bring even more commercial deals; in March, the Army announced it was looking for new satellite firms to help troops in Afghanistan communicate. According to a 2008 Intelligence Science Board study — one of the few public reports on the subject — demand for satellite communications could grow from about 30 gigabits per second to 80 gigabits a decade from now.

The Chinese are poised to help fill that need — especially over Africa, where Beijing has deep business and strategic interests. In 2012, China for the first time launched more rockets into space than the U.S. – including the Chinasat 12 and Apstar-7 communications satellites.

U.S. officials have in recent years publicly accused Chinese telecommunications firms of being, in effect, subcontractors of Beijing’s spies.

I’m startled,” says Dean Cheng, a research fellow and veteran China-watcher at the Heritage Foundation. “Is this risky? Well, since the satellite was openly contracted, they [the Chinese] know who is using which transponders. And I suspect they’re making a copy of all of it.”

Even if the data passing over the Apstar-7 is encrypted, the coded traffic could be used to give Chinese cryptanalysts valuable clues about how the American military obfuscates its information. “This is giving it to them in a nice, neat little package. I think there is a potential security concern.”

And even if the Chinese don’t intercept the data, there’s always the danger of them suddenly deciding to block service to the American military.

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Chinese Satellites provides bandwidth for US drones and US dependence on Chinese Satellites could grow

U.S. troops operating on the African continent are now using the recently-launched Chinese Apstar-7 satellite to keep in touch and share information.

Every new drone feed and every new soldier with a satellite radio creates more appetite for bandwidth — an appetite the military can’t hope to fill with military spacecraft alone. To try to keep up, the Pentagon has leased bandwidth from commercial carriers for more than a decade. And the next decade should bring even more commercial deals; in March, the Army announced it was looking for new satellite firms to help troops in Afghanistan communicate. According to a 2008 Intelligence Science Board study — one of the few public reports on the subject — demand for satellite communications could grow from about 30 gigabits per second to 80 gigabits a decade from now.

The Chinese are poised to help fill that need — especially over Africa, where Beijing has deep business and strategic interests. In 2012, China for the first time launched more rockets into space than the U.S. – including the Chinasat 12 and Apstar-7 communications satellites.

U.S. officials have in recent years publicly accused Chinese telecommunications firms of being, in effect, subcontractors of Beijing’s spies.

I’m startled,” says Dean Cheng, a research fellow and veteran China-watcher at the Heritage Foundation. “Is this risky? Well, since the satellite was openly contracted, they [the Chinese] know who is using which transponders. And I suspect they’re making a copy of all of it.”

Even if the data passing over the Apstar-7 is encrypted, the coded traffic could be used to give Chinese cryptanalysts valuable clues about how the American military obfuscates its information. “This is giving it to them in a nice, neat little package. I think there is a potential security concern.”

And even if the Chinese don’t intercept the data, there’s always the danger of them suddenly deciding to block service to the American military.

If you liked this article, please give it a quick review on ycombinator or StumbleUpon. Thanks

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Subscribe and get a FREE Ebook