China has deployed a swarm of reconnaissance satellites to monitor two major military exercises involving the US and Australia, broadcaster ABC News reported.
Hundreds of Chinese satellites reportedly passed over Australia to collect intelligence from the recently concluded Exercise Talisman Sabre.
Australian defense firm EOS Space Systems said that among those satellites was Beijing’s Shiyan 12-01, detected maneuvering into position below the equator to monitor US-Australia war games.
Shijian-17 and Shijian-23 satellites were also tracked, drifting easterly to observe multiple areas where the military exercise was conducted.
Monitoring ‘Exercise Malabar’
Besides Exercise Talisman Sabre, the Chinese spy satellites are also monitoring the ongoing Exercise Malabar naval drills.
Over 300 satellites are reportedly surveying the activities and have accumulated over 3,000 flight hours since Malabar began on August 10.
“We’ve been collecting optical surveillance data on Earth observing Chinese satellites during the Talisman Sabre and Malabar exercises and what that’s showing is quite a lot of activity surveying the ground during those events,” EOS Space Systems official James Bennett told ABC News.
He further stated that the large number of low-orbit Chinese satellites above Australia would allow the country to gain knowledge of equipment capabilities and ground military activities.
Growing Presence in Space
China’s recent increase in satellite spying illustrates its growing presence in space.
A US General already warned that China remains the most challenging threat in space due to the space weapons it has tested and operationalized.
Earlier this month, the country launched its first geosynchronous orbit synthetic aperture radar satellite.
US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall also said China has the potential “to actually put weapons in space” and strike its adversaries in the event of a conflict.