China uses “the world’s largest antenna” for submarine operations which is “five times the size of New York City”


China is currently using what is believed to be the world’s largest antenna to improve its surveillance and communication capabilities, enabling long-distance communications with submarines.

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The exact site of the installation is unknown, however, it is believed to be located in the Dabie Mountains, a protected nature reserve covering the provinces of Hubei, Anhui and Henan, South China Morning Post reported.

The antenna, which is made up of a network of cables and pylons similar to those seen in ordinary power lines, would appear from space as a massive cross measuring over 100 kilometers (62 miles) long. and wide.

Copper knots, on the other hand, are set deep into a thick granite at the ends of these lines. Two powerful underground transmitters, each capable of operating independently in the event of a blackout, charge a megawatt of electric current and turn the Earth into a huge radio station.

A Chinese nuclear submarine. (via Twitter)

The facility was built to provide submarine communications over a distance of 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles), which is long enough to reach Guam, the largest U.S. military post in the western Pacific, said the chief engineer of the project Zha Ming and colleagues, from the Wuhan Institute for Maritime Communication Research.

Receiving devices located 200 meters (700 feet) below the surface of the seabed – can receive signals from the gigantic antenna 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) offshore, according to a study published in the Chinese Journal of Ship Research on last month.

In 2019, SCMP reported that China had finished building a giant experimental radio antenna on land nearly five times the size of New York City. The antenna, which was built in a top-secret site, emits low-frequency signals that can be used to converse with submarines, allowing the Navy to operate at deeper depths without having to resurface.

Satellite photos appear to show Chinese submarine using underground base (via Twitter)

The project lasted 13 years and the antenna is housed in a 1,400 square mile site. The ELF system can identify minerals and oil and can be used as a seismic sensor to understand what is happening on the ground before large earthquakes, in addition to communicating with submarines.

However, SCMP made no mention in the last report as to whether the antenna stations in question are the same, but given their presumed location and operational objectives, it can be inferred that they are.

ELF technology

The Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) facility can create electromagnetic waves with frequencies ranging from 0.1 to 300 Hz. These radio waves have the ability to travel long distances above and below the ground. Officially, the project is part of the Chinese program 11th five-year plan for civilian uses, however, it can also be used for military applications.

Scientists believe that a submarine hiding hundreds of meters below the sea can pick up its signals, eliminating the risk of the ship having to reappear to receive transmissions. The project follows on from China’s first military-grade ultra-low-frequency transmission station, which was completed in 2009.

The following year, a Chinese nuclear submarine did speak with the station from the depths of the sea, making China the third country in the world to do so after the United States and Russia.

China and Russia have also collaborated on a test to explore how far a signal can travel across the surface. The signal was received by a Russian station at a distance of 7,000 kilometers (4,400 miles), but the increased distance came at a cost: the link was one-way and could only transmit encrypted text messages.

Since the wave of an ELF signal can be as large as a continent, it is difficult to generate. To accomplish the task, a traditional radio tower would need to be at least 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) long. China is not the first country to carry out such a project. Previously, similar projects were also carried out in other countries.

The concept of building a low frequency earth-bound antenna dates back to the 1960s. In 1968, the US Navy envisioned Project Sanguine, a massive ELF antenna that would have covered two-fifths of Wisconsin and allowed sub- sailors communicate underwater. Beginning in the late 1980s, an antenna with two intersecting lines, each about 70 km (40 miles) long, was built and began to transmit signals at a frequency of 76 Hz.

Sanguine Project - Wikipedia
ELF transmitter from Clam Lake, Wisconsin in 1982, part of the ELF project, the reduced successor to Sanguine. Sections of the power line right-of-way that make up the two 14-mile-long ground dipole antennas can be seen traversing the forest in the lower left. (Wikipedia Commons)

After failing to meet military requirements, the project was halted in 2005. The United States has focused on alternative technologies, such as using lasers to manipulate the atmosphere to generate low-frequency waves. The Soviet Union built Zevs, a much more powerful factory on the Kola Peninsula, just inside the Arctic Circle, in the 1980s.

The Zevs antenna featured a primary frequency of 82 hertz and was powered by two 60-kilometer power cables, sending signals strong enough to reach Russian nuclear submarines deep beneath the Arctic ice cap. Since then, Russia has helped China develop its own systems, which could include additional ELF stations in coastal areas.

China wants to control the waterways?

In recent years, China has stepped up military exercises near two strategically important waterways: the Bashi Canal and the Miyako Strait.

The Bashi Channel stretches from the northern Philippine island of Luzon and the Taiwanese island of Orchid, connecting the South China Sea to the western Pacific Ocean. The Miyako Strait connects the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa, providing a small corridor through Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone with international oceans and airspace.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLAN) navy uses these two waterways to enter the Pacific Ocean. The Miyako Strait and Bashi Channel are located along the “First Island Chain”, which stretches from the Japanese archipelago to Taiwan and the Philippines. The two channels are above all seen as the most critical entry points for the PLA into the Pacific Ocean, and therefore vital for the protection of Chinese economic interests abroad.

Like before reported According to Eurasian Times, the United States has decided to send additional fighter jets, including F-22 Raptors, F-35 Lightning IIs and B2 stealth bombers to Australia to deter possible Chinese military attacks and threats. In addition, the United States is also keen to increase its military presence in and around its military base in Guam.

The growing presence could lead to a potential showdown between the two superpowers. China has made it clear that it wants to annex Taiwan, which Beijing calls a separatist province. And repeated intrusions into Taiwan’s air defense identification area show that China is determined to capture Taiwan, even through military action.

At the same time, the United States and its allies could use both waterways to surround Chinese military forces. Japan, for example, has installed new anti-ship missile batteries on islands in Okinawa Prefecture that can cover the entire Miyako Strait and recently decided to increase its missiles to over 1,000 km.

Using the new antenna, the PLA Navy could increase its communications infrastructure and better direct its submarines to counter the United States and its allies.


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