Chinese naval scientists develop technology to track ships using foreign military radar signals

Chinese naval scientists claim a breakthrough in maritime tracking technology, enabling the use of signals from other countries’ military radars to locate and track ships.

In a remarkable display of technological prowess, a team of Chinese naval scientists from Shandong province has unveiled a breakthrough in maritime tracking. Their research, published in the Chinese-language journal Radio Science and Technology, details a method that harnesses signals from foreign military radars, including warships and early warning planes, to track cargo ships on the high seas.

Traditionally, radar signals have been considered secure and accessible only to the sender and their allies. However, the Chinese team, led by scientist Song Jie from the PLA Naval Aviation University, claims to have developed a system that can utilize potentially non-friendly radar signals to track ships, even using simple equipment such as a laptop and a small antenna.


Unprecedented Feat

The breakthrough is described as unprecedented, considering the historical limitations of radar signals. Since the invention of radar in 1935, only the sender or their allies could extract information from its signals due to the intricate knowledge of constantly changing physical parameters known only to the transmitter. The Chinese team’s success in disentangling and utilizing potentially adversarial radar signals to track ships marks a significant advancement.

The team conducted experiments in Yantai, using a simple setup that included a receiving antenna and an electromagnetic wave analyzer connected to a laptop. Despite the challenges posed by electromagnetic waves reflecting off the sea’s constantly changing waves, the system proved effective in locating and tracking commercial ships within a 20km range of the shore. This distance is comparable to the Red Sea shipping lane’s proximity to Yemen’s coast.


Potential Applications

While the practical implications of this technology raise concerns about maritime security, the researchers believe it could also find applications in electronic warfare for the Chinese military. The system’s potential contributions to electronic reconnaissance, anti-radiation weaponry, ultra-low altitude penetration missions, and stealth technology are highlighted in their paper.

The Chinese naval scientists’ breakthrough in utilizing foreign military radar signals for maritime tracking unveils a new frontier in electronic warfare and military reconnaissance. This technology, while posing potential risks to maritime security, showcases the evolving landscape of military capabilities and raises questions about the ethical implications of such advancements in electronic surveillance and warfare.