|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||Feb 21, 2017 10:13 AM EST|
(Photo : PLA) PLA radar station.
After a year of speculation, it's now been confirmed the Strategic Support Force (SSF) -- the newest service branch of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and which was organized only in December 2015 -- will be responsible for the PLA's space, cyber and electronic warfare capabilities.
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In addition, Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered the SSF to pursue "leapfrog development" and advance military innovation.
The PLA has described the SSF as a "growth point" for developing "new-type" forces and is an important force in joint operations.
The SSF possesses the capabilities to contest space and cyberspace, which to the PLA are the "new commanding heights of strategic competition." Equally important, the SSF will develop a range of "new concept weapons."
The SSF will be a key tool that will allow the PLA to leapfrog the U.S. military in critical emerging technologies.
The PLA said the SSF is optimized for future warfare in which the PLA will fight in new strategic frontiers such as space, cyberspace and the electromagnetic domain, all of which will be vital to victory over the United States.
In these new strategic frontiers, unmanned, "intelligentized" and stealthy weapons systems will play a key role.
The SSF will "protect the high frontiers and new frontiers of national security," said its commander, Lt. Gen. Gao Jin. He said the SSF will seek to "seize the strategic commanding heights of future military competition."
The SSF's responsibilities will include research and development and perhaps also the initial testing and fielding of certain of the PLA's "new concept" weapons systems.
The PLA defines new concept weapons as high-technology weapons such as directed energy weapons; kinetic energy weapons and cyber weapons. Directed energy weapons include high-energy lasers, high-power microwave weapons and railguns.
The development of "new-type" or "new-quality" combat forces refers to a variety of forces based on advanced technologies. Among these are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) used for electronic warfare.
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