On March 9, China moved into the end run of a decades-long project to build its own global navigation satellite system called the BeiDou. Now, China is expected to launch its last satellite of its Beidou constellation of navigation satellites which also assist its long-term strategic ally – Pakistan.
Being the fourth space-based navigation system, China’s completed system will rival America’s GPS, Russia’s GLONASS, and Europe’s Galileo.
According to reports and secondary research by the EurAsian Times, Pakistani military reliance on the US-owned Global Positioning System (GPS) will be reduced after the use of China‘s BeiDou satellite navigation system which is projected to achieve global coverage.
In 2014, BeiDou set up a network covering Karachi. With Pakistan buying a host of major military systems from China including fighter planes, submarines and naval warships and building its own cruise missiles, its reliance on the Beidou system is only expected to grow.
Earlier, Pakistani officials emphasized that the country cannot rely on GPS during a conflict as the US may restrict its availability.
Satellite navigation is considered as an integral part for targeting of both nuclear-armed and conventionally armed missiles by global powers. As per reports in the Chinese media, the Beidou system is unique as it includes, “medium earth orbit, inclined geosynchronous earth orbit and geostationary earth orbit satellites”.
Chinese PLA (The People’s Liberation Army) has reportedly been using the Beidou satellite system for its different departments for years for navigation of transport systems and enhancement of targeting capabilities for weapons.
Quoting an official at the China Satellite Navigation Office, BBC stated that the system will have positioning accuracy of 2.5m (8.2ft), which will further be improved to centimetre-level accuracy with additional ground stations”.
The Beidou system first began rendering navigation services in the Asia-Pacific in 2012 and declared global services in 2018. The Chinese navigation system is competent of providing navigation services for vehicles, ships and aircraft and even for domestic sectors such as agriculture.
It is the military dimension of BeiDou that is likely to disturb the Indian defence establishment as Pakistan was the first country to use the system. In 2018, The New York Times reported: “Pakistan is the only other country that has been granted access to the system‘s military service, allowing more precise guidance for missiles, ships and aircraft”.