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China's military tests sophisticated real-time data system

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Sept 19, 2007
The Chinese military has begun a two-day drill testing a system that provides commanders real-time battlefield data, signalling the continued modernisation of the nation's massive armed forces.

The exercise is part of an ambitious effort to improve military information collection systems, one of the main shortfalls of the otherwise rapidly modernising People's Liberation Army, the Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.

"We are trying to catch up with the advanced countries. It's a very complicated system, as it involves every military unit," Xu Guangyu, a retired Chinese general, told AFP.

"I think we need at least ten years to catch up with the world's most sophisticated nations," he said.

The drill, dubbed "North Sword 0709", was carried out at the Zhurihe training base in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the nation's largest military training field, Xinhua said.

Each of the 2,000 participating soldiers is equipped with an electronic device constantly beaming information back to headquarters about battlefield conditions, Xinhua reported.

This allows commanding officers to have precise information at any time about ammunition levels, food consumption and casualties among units under their command, according to the agency.

"The system could let us know the exact conditions our troops are under in combat... and when we should support them with logistics," said Zhang Jixiang, a senior officer taking part in the manoeuvre.

This particular effort targets an area of modern military technology aimed at enhancing what is known in the specialist literature as "battlefield awareness," said Robert Karniol, a Bangkok-based independent military analyst.

"The better commanders know what's happening on the battlefield, the better they can apply their resources, whether in people or in firepower or in mobility or in logistics support," he said.

No outside observer knows for sure when China decided to improve its capabilities in this particular field.

However, it is widely accepted that the first Gulf War of early 2001, showing off the immense superiority of the tech-savvy US armed forces, was a milestone in Chinese thinking on the issue.

"You can say with some certainty that the first Gulf War accelerated the process," said Karniol.

China's 2.3-million-strong military has seen its 2007 budget rise 17.8 percent from last year, and is now going for quality rather than quantity.

It is focusing considerable attention on the need to adopt high technology as means to enhance its battle efficiency, apparently with some success.

Recently, reports suggested that hackers from the People's Liberation Army had caused a shutdown of a computer system serving the office of US Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Similar hacker attacks linked to the Chinese military have been reported by other western countries as well.

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ThalesRaytheonSystems To Provide Upgrade For Battle Control System
Fullerton CA (SPX) Sep 14, 2007
ThalesRaytheonSystems has received a $25.6 million contract to provide the U.S. Air Force with capability upgrades to the Battle Control System-Fixed (BCS-F) for Air Combat Command, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense) and Air Forces Northern (AFNORTH). "Having common software and a common human-machine interface between the fixed and mobile communities will reduce development, testing, and training costs for the Air Force," said Daniel De Sollar, director of ThalesRaytheonSystems Air C2 Systems in the U.S.







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