Chang Guang, a Chinese aerospace firm, recently released a brief video showcasing a satellite allegedly tracking a US F-22 Raptor fighter jet. According to Clash Report on X, the footage originates from 2020 and purportedly involves the use of the commercial Jilin-1 satellite system.

The video clip is notably brief, lasting just six seconds, depicting the Jilin-1 satellite’s cameras following an aircraft identified by Chang Guang as the American F-22 Raptor, flying through partly cloudy skies. This raises several inquiries: Is the aircraft truly an F-22? Has the footage been altered? Was the Jilin-1 satellite system genuinely employed for this tracking? Most intriguingly, why was only a six-second excerpt released?

Capturing footage of the F-22 through video is not unprecedented; despite its stealth capabilities rendering it nearly invisible to radar, the aircraft remains visible to the naked eye. If the satellite managed continuous tracking beyond those six seconds, it underscores potential future combat capabilities. While ground-based radars might miss the aircraft due to its low radar cross-section (RCS), satellites could potentially detect it, as hinted at by the video.

Combining satellite and radar capabilities, if confirmed that Chinese satellites tracked an F-22 flight, this raises significant discussions about combat readiness. It’s important to clarify that stealth aircraft are not completely invisible to radar; they possess “low observability,” making detection challenging but feasible. The F-22’s radar signature, equivalent to a small metallic pebble, is minuscule compared to conventional fighters, making it detectable under optimal conditions.

Thus, the capability of satellites to track such stealth flights suggests a direct link between orbital technology and ground-based systems. This approach allows radars to focus on specific sectors or angles to pinpoint the stealth aircraft’s signature, assuming ideal conditions without interference.

The Jilin-1 Satellite System, developed by Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co., Ltd., represents China’s inaugural commercial remote sensing satellite system. Named after Jilin Province, where the company is headquartered, this constellation provides high-resolution imagery and video for various applications, including environmental monitoring, urban planning, and disaster response.

Comprising optical imaging, video, and hyperspectral satellites, the Jilin-1 system supports diverse data collection needs, supplying precise and timely information for both governmental and commercial purposes.

The Jilin-1 Satellite System stands out for its frequent revisits to the same geographic areas, a critical capability for applications needing nearly real-time monitoring like disaster management and urban development. Equipped with advanced imaging technology, these satellites capture high-resolution images with up to 0.72 meters of ground resolution, providing precise spatial data essential for various tasks.

Since its launch in 2015, the Jilin-1 Satellite System has grown substantially. Recent updates indicate the constellation now comprises numerous satellites, with ongoing expansion efforts aimed at broadening coverage and enhancing operational capabilities.

In another development, footage from 2020 has revealed advancements by Chinese engineers, indicating ongoing efforts to transform low-cost commercial satellites into highly effective surveillance tools using advanced AI technology. Reports suggest this AI system, currently under development by researchers within the Chinese military, could significantly improve tracking accuracy, potentially achieving success rates up to seven times greater than current methods. According to Chinese media, researchers claim the AI can accurately identify small moving objects, such as cars, with an impressive 95% accuracy from videos captured by Jilin-1 satellites. Lin Kunbao and his team at the People’s Liberation Army University of Space Engineering in Beijing are leading this cutting-edge initiative.