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"The 2030 War" Topic

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Oldgrumbler Supporting Member of TMP07 Nov 2017 3:57 p.m. PST

From Real Clear World

It's 11:59 p.m. on Thanksgiving Thursday in 2030. For months, tensions have been mounting between Chinese and U.S. Navy patrols in the South China Sea. Washington's attempts to use diplomacy to restrain China have proven an embarrassing failure among long-time allies -- with NATO crippled by years of diffident American support, Britain now a third-tier power, Japan functionally neutral, and other international leaders cool to Washington's concerns after suffering its cyber-surveillance for so long. With the American economy diminished, Washington plays the last card in an increasingly weak hand, deploying six of its remaining eight carrier groups to the Western Pacific.

Instead of intimidating China's leaders, the move makes them more bellicose. Flying from air bases in the Spratly Islands, their jet fighters soon begin buzzing U.S. Navy ships in the South China Sea, while Chinese frigates play chicken with two of the aircraft carriers on patrol, crossing ever closer to their bows.

Then tragedy strikes. At 4:00 a.m. on a foggy October night, the massive carrier USS Gerald Ford slices through aging Frigate-536 Xuchang, sinking the Chinese ship with its entire crew of 165. Beijing demands an apology and reparations. When Washington refuses, China's fury comes fast.

At the stroke of midnight on Black Friday, as cyber-shoppers storm the portals of Best Buy for deep discounts on the latest consumer electronics from Bangladesh, Navy personnel staffing the Space Surveillance Telescope at Exmouth, Western Australia, choke on their coffees as their panoramic screens of the southern sky suddenly blip to black. Thousands of miles away at the U.S. CyberCommand's operations center in Texas, Air Force technicians detect malicious binaries that, though hacked anonymously into American weapons systems worldwide, show the distinctive digital fingerprints of China's People's Liberation Army.

In what historians will later call the "Battle of Binaries," CyberCom's supercomputers launch their killer counter-codes. While a few of China's provincial servers do lose routine administrative data, Beijing's quantum satellite system, equipped with super-secure photon transmission, proves impervious to hacking. Meanwhile, an armada of bigger, faster supercomputers slaved to Shanghai's cyberwarfare Unit 61398 blasts back with impenetrable logarithms of unprecedented subtlety and sophistication, slipping into the U.S. satellite system through its antiquated microwave signals.

The first overt strike is one nobody at the Pentagon predicted. Flying at 60,000 feet above the South China Sea, several U.S. carrier-based MQ-25 Stingray drones, infected by Chinese "malware," suddenly fire all the pods beneath their enormous delta wingspans, sending dozens of lethal missiles plunging harmlessly into the ocean, effectively disarming those formidable weapons.

Determined to fight fire with fire, the White House authorizes a retaliatory strike. Confident their satellite system is impenetrable, Air Force commanders in California transmit robotic codes to a flotilla of X-37B space drones, orbiting 250 miles above the Earth, to launch their Triple Terminator missiles at several of China's communication satellites. There is zero response.

In near panic, the Navy orders its Zumwalt-class destroyers to fire their RIM-174 killer missiles at seven Chinese satellites in nearby geostationary orbits. The launch codes suddenly prove inoperative.

As Beijing's viruses spread uncontrollably through the U.S. satellite architecture, the country's second-rate supercomputers fail to crack the Chinese malware's devilishly complex code. With stunning speed, GPS signals crucial to the navigation of American ships and aircraft worldwide are compromised.

Across the Pacific, Navy deck officers scramble for their sextants, struggling to recall long-ago navigation classes at Annapolis. Steering by sun and stars, carrier squadrons abandon their stations off the China coast and steam for the safety of Hawaii.

An angry American president orders a retaliatory strike on a secondary Chinese target, Longpo Naval Base on Hainan Island. Within minutes, the commander of Andersen Air Base on Guam launches a battery of super-secret X-51 "Waverider" hypersonic missiles that soar to 70,000 feet and then streak across the Pacific at 4,000 miles per hour -- far faster than any Chinese fighter or air-to-air missile. Inside the White House situation room the silence is stifling as everyone counts down the 30 short minutes before the tactical nuclear warheads are to slam into Longpo's hardened submarine pens, shutting down Chinese naval operations in the South China Sea. Midflight, the missiles suddenly nose-dive into the Pacific.

In a bunker buried deep beneath Tiananmen Square, President Xi Jinping's handpicked successor, Li Keqiang, even more nationalistic than his mentor, is outraged that Washington would attempt a tactical nuclear strike on Chinese soil. When China's State Council wavers at the thought of open war, the president quotes the ancient strategist Sun Tzu: "Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win." Amid applause and laughter, the vote is unanimous. War it is!

Almost immediately, Beijing escalates from secret cyberattacks to overt acts. Dozens of China's next-generation SC-19 missiles lift off for strikes on key American communications satellites, scoring a high ratio of kinetic kills on these hulking units. Suddenly, Washington loses secure communications with hundreds of military bases. U.S. fighter squadrons worldwide are grounded. Dozens of F-35 pilots already airborne are blinded as their helmet-mounted avionic displays go black, forcing them down to 10,000 feet for a clear view of the countryside. Without any electronic navigation, they must follow highways and landmarks back to base like bus drivers in the sky.

Midflight on regular patrols around the Eurasian landmass, two-dozen RQ-180 surveillance drones suddenly become unresponsive to satellite-transmitted commands. They fly aimlessly toward the horizon, crashing when their fuel is exhausted. With surprising speed, the United States loses control of what its Air Force has long called the "ultimate high ground."

With intelligence flooding the Kremlin about crippled American capacity, Moscow, still a close Chinese ally, sends a dozen Severodvinsk-class nuclear submarines beyond the Arctic Circle bound for permanent, provocative patrols between New York and Newport News. Simultaneously, a half-dozen Grigorovich-class missile frigates from Russia's Black Sea fleet, escorted by an undisclosed number of attack submarines, steam for the western Mediterranean to shadow the U.S. Sixth fleet.

Within a matter of hours, Washington's strategic grip on the axial ends of Eurasia -- the keystone to its global dominion for the past 85 years -- is broken. In quick succession, the building blocks in the fragile architecture of U.S. global power start to fall.


SouthernPhantom07 Nov 2017 7:29 p.m. PST

What is this, the mad fantasy of a Kremlin troll?

Oldgrumbler Supporting Member of TMP07 Nov 2017 8:04 p.m. PST

A vision of future war. Somewhat bloodless & not making for a great wargame.

David Manley07 Nov 2017 10:29 p.m. PST

Overly dramatised for effect, but if you chat with cyber warfare types they'll tell you the general themes aren't beyond the realm of possibilities

Lion in the Stars07 Nov 2017 10:53 p.m. PST

Yeah, it's a problem with using Commercial Off-The-Shelf software.

But I don't believe that US systems are anywhere near as vulnerable as this scenario suggests.

Caedite Eos08 Nov 2017 10:51 a.m. PST

As if the CCCPutin is going to have a fleet like that in 2030. No chance.

Oldgrumbler Supporting Member of TMP08 Nov 2017 1:50 p.m. PST

The latest news about China & quantum computing explains how the writer came up with the above scenario. China is currently posied to jump way ahead of the West.

"A Chinese manned space station, planned for 2022, is scheduled to carry an experimental quantum-communications payload that human operators can maintain and upgrade. The ultimate goal is a set of geostationary satellites that span the world.
So far, only China has invested the billions of dollars needed to bring quantum encryption to real-world use."


Oldgrumbler Supporting Member of TMP08 Nov 2017 1:53 p.m. PST

Another quote for those that don't read the article:

"What is clear is that the Chinese team has proved not only that quantum key distribution works but that any nation serious about establishing fully secure communications needs to commit vast sums to the project. "There is no secret sauce," says quantum pioneer Norbert Lütkenhaus, a professor at the University of Waterloo. "Western countries could easily follow." If they have the vision to do so.

"Whoever controls information controls the world," says Ekert. By that logic, the future belongs to Beijing."

ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa09 Nov 2017 12:45 p.m. PST

I'm not sure I'd read too much into China's purported supremacy in quantum communications. IIRC correctly its recent satellite based experiment was done in partnership with Austrian academics. If was that close to effective deployment as a communications system, and particularly a military one, I cant see the PLA being keen on there being foreign academics around.

I also assume that the global financial industry is quite interested in this technology as it would make traffic considerably more secure for a sector that supposedly bleeds money to cybercrime. And they have 'all' the money!

And sooner or later someone will work out how to hack quantum systems…

As for the 'scenario' I'd humbly suggest they missed the bit where China, while slapping itself on the back for turning the US's military satellite network into shrapnel, suddenly wonders what happened to its shiny quantum communications satellites! I also don't buy Japan as neutral in this or the EU sitting it out… (or possibly Russia being quite so pally with a China that by 2030 is probably beginning to look increasingly covetously at Siberia and its resources)

Oldgrumbler Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2017 7:53 p.m. PST

I read that the NSAis putting $76 USD million into quantum computing while China is putting more than $1 USD billion into it. I understand that it may be unhackable. But someone with a better background than my 3rd physics might be able to explain this.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 5:46 a.m. PST

By then all our tech will be made overseas, which means they would already have what we have, and they would know all our weaknesses better than we do ourselves.

So, at that point, what difference would anything make? It would be too late to start worrying about it then. Dead in the water.

Sometimes I feel as if Zap Brannigan has been leading us in that department these last few decades.




ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa11 Nov 2017 3:57 a.m. PST

It's probably worth pointing out that the NSA's $76 USD million will probably be targeted, while China's spend may well be total… And pretty much everyone seems to have a quantum communications research program!

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