China Can Hijack Foreign Radar To Detect Enemies, Research Says

China Can Hijack Foreign Radar To Detect Enemies, Research Says

Chinese scientists claim to have developed a technology to capture and read the complex radar signatures of foreign militaries using only basic tools.

Scientists from the People’s Liberation Army Naval Aviation University and Yantai University, located in China’s eastern Shandong province, said their algorithm effectively turns an adversary’s weapon against them, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper reported on Sunday.

The team’s research was a contemporary example of the ancient Chinese proverb “borrowing a blade to slay,” The Post said, and also opened new doors for those with limited resources to gain a strategic military advantage.

The group, led by PLA Naval Aviation University’s Song Jie and colleagues from Yantai, tested their model by tracking cargo ships on the high seas using signals emitted by other countries’ radars, warships, and early warning aircraft.

The technology proved surprisingly accessible, requiring only basic equipment like a laptop and a small antenna, according to their peer-reviewed paper published on December 20 in the Chinese-language journal Radio Science and Technology.

Traditionally, since radar’s invention in 1935, only the signal’s originator or their allies can exploit its transmission, as interpreting these electromagnetic waves to locate targets demands intricate knowledge of constantly changing physical parameters, The Post said.

Song’s team overcame the technological barrier and successfully employed hostile radar signals to detect ship movements in and out of ports, a feat once deemed impossible.

“Our system works well for slow-moving targets at sea,” explained the researchers from China, highlighting its potential to track enemy warships steaming in nearby waters.

This photo taken on August 22, 2023, shows a Chinese coast guard ship shadowing Philippine Coast Guard ships during the resupply mission by a civilian boat chartered by the Philippine Navy to deliver supplies to Philippine Navy ship the BRP Sierra Madre in the disputed South China Sea. Chinese researchers claim to have developed technology to capture radar signals by foreign militaries.
The groundbreaking algorithm developed by the Chinese researchers effectively reverse-engineers the operating parameters of a military radar. The advancement is particularly significant for smaller nations with limited radar capabilities.

By leveraging enemy signals, these forces could potentially gain a crucial strategic advantage with minimal investment.

The technology is perhaps less useful for the PLA, which has come to develop some of the world’s most advanced tracking tools thanks to China’s reconnaissance assets in space

However, the practical implementation of this technology was not without its challenges.

The team faced difficulties distinguishing between the direct signal from the radar, and that reflected off a ship’s hull, a critical factor in accurate positioning. Their solution involved a unique processing approach, not standard in conventional radar stations, to separate these intertwined signals.

Their work nonetheless underscored the depth and potential of the specialized research, suggesting a possible leap forward in radar technology and its application in modern warfare.

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