It’s considered the “Ferrari of war room software” which gives the United States and European military planners and operational commanders a distinctive edge. And it’s just been handed over to China.
The big screen software that allows for “real time” military operational awareness relied upon by NATO and the Pentagon to make instant decisions while troops are in the field conducting live operations has been obtained by Beijing as part of a deal with the defense contractor Luciad, a Belgian-based company. With such technology, according to the story revealed in a South China Morning Post (SCMP) exclusive based on accessing Chinese government contractor sources, this will put the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “on an equal organizational footing with some of the West’s elite military operations.”
Screenshot from Luciad demo video.
And with China continuing to aggressively build-up both its defense technology and special forces capabilities, as its recently been keen to display to the world and especially rival armies, the software will allow commanders to process real-time data and visuals with incredible instantaneous speed and accuracy, allowing for fluid and rapid response.
According to the SCMP report the software is the most advanced available in terms of systems visual integration:
Planners use data from sources such as drone feeds, satellite imagery, radar, sensor plots, weather forecasts and platoon status. Traditional software can introduce errors as large as 500 meters (1,600 feet) in the positioning of moving targets from different data streams.
And further the advances system will allow military planners to assess target information in real time while instantly changing or updating parameters where needed:
Luciad’s software can analyse data and generate seamless visuals at a speed of 100 calculations a second, 75 times faster than its closest competitor, with accuracy to within 3cm (one inch) and on a global scale, according to American graphics technology company Nvidia.
Notably it is the exact same software relied upon by the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.
SOCOM used the exact software for the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad, Pakistan compound in 2011.
Given the way Chinese law is configured to gain access to trade secrets out of Western companies seeking to sell to China, it is likely that Beijing will soon have to capability to replicate the technology itself.
The SCMP report confirms that in the case of computer software, no matter how sensitive, the law requires every line of code to be accessible:
Under Chinese law, a foreign vendor supplying software to the Chinese government must disclose every line of source code to authorities for a security check. It was unclear whether Luciad has complied with that requirement. The company did not respond to requests for comment.
The report also speculates over the possibility that China could be exposing itself to a “Trojan horse” backdoor of sorts, or hidden codes in the software that could “lead to unauthorized infiltration of the brain of Chinese military operations” by NATO intelligence, according to one researcher cited in the report.
The Belgian maker of the software produced the following brief demo:
But crucially, it is more likely China could gain insight into NATO countries’ own methods and war room operations by studying the software at the source code level, according to the report. “Sometimes a comment [an explanation or annotation in the source code of a computer program] can tell a story,” one analyst was cited in the report as saying.
Currently China has implemented the most advanced domestic integrated spying system in the world as part of its Orwellian “social credit system”.
And now it’s increasingly likely that the military software technology accessed as part of its deal will not only make its elite military units more efficient in potential future operations abroad, but will bolster Beijing’s totalitarian capabilities at home.
One day after vice president Mike Pence and China’s president Xi Jinping clashed after exchanging sharply worded barbs in a showdown between the two superpowers, on Sunday the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit ended in unprecedented chaos and disarray, without agreement on a joint communique for the first time in its history as the escalating rivalry between the United States and China dominated proceedings and reflected escalating trade tensions.