Communist China is planning to develop new ground stations in Antarctica in an effort to expand surveillance and data collection abilities that already pose a major strategic threat to the United States, an analyst said.
The new facilities will be developed on the existing Zhongshan research base in eastern Antarctica and will enable China to “be able to better target American satellites. It’s a base that will … be able to guide new Chinese space weapons to American targets,” Rick Fisher, senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center and contributing editor to Geostrategy-Direct.com, told Fox News Digital.
"And because its on the South Pole, it can play a greater role in helping China to populate the Moon," Fisher added in reference to a new space race that could be unfolding with international security ramifications.
China opened the Antarctica base in 1989, reportedly for research relating to marine, glaciological, geological and atmospheric sciences.
The U.S. and its military have been supporting research missions in the Antarctic for nearly seven decades, but Fisher says there is one major difference.
"The United States, Germany, Norway, perhaps other countries also had space probe facilities in Antarctica. However, none of them are developing Fractional Orbital Bombardment Systems (FOBS), as is China," he said.
The Zhongshan research base was built in line with the international 1959 Antarctic Treaty that says the world’s most southern continent will be used strictly for peaceful scientific research and bars any military maneuvering, an agreement that China, along with 51 other nations, have signed on to.
By 2021, however, China began employing advanced military capabilities at the Zhongshan base, Fisher said.
"In 2021, state media revealed that China had put a LIDAR — a laser radar — into the Zhongshan station to conduct ‘atmospheric research,' " Fisher told Fox News Digital. "Any kind of laser raises the possibility that the LIDAR could be upgraded to be a far more powerful laser."
Fisher explained that the use of a more powerful laser from the Zhongshan base will enable China to damage or destroy targeted satellites. The technology used to damage a satellite could also break away pieces of the device and increase the amount of debris in low Earth orbit that could further impair existing satellites.
Related — Stratcom’s wakeup call to Congress: China now has more ICBM launchers than U.S., February 14, 2023
FOBS date back to a Cold War-era missile program that looked to circumvent early U.S. warning detection systems by launching a nuclear warhead from the south over South America instead of from the west over Russia.
According to Fisher, the program was made obsolete with the development of deep space early warning detectors, but he warned that China has revived this technology and tested its FOBS capabilities twice in 2021.
"If you're going to be attacking the United States in that manner — traversing Antarctica — it is extremely useful to have the ability to update a FOBS bus," he said, referring to the technology that would launch either a nuclear warhead or hypersonic missile.
This would ensure "that the bus that would launch these weapons has the most accurate targeting updates and can achieve the highest accuracy in striking targets in the United States," Fisher added.
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