What Are Russia’s Top 5 Anti-Satellite Systems?

Russia’s top 5 anti-satellite systems, which, according to Igor Korotchenko, are both more affordable and potent, include the Nudol System and the Peresvet Laser System.

What Are Russia's Top 5 Anti-Satellite Systems? 1

Russia possesses weapons based on novel physical principles that are efficient in deterring enemy satellites. What do they consist of?

On February 15, Moscow refuted unfounded reports that it was working to put a nuclear anti-satellite system into orbit.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency alerted the US Congress to the clearance sale of 31 MQ-9B armed drones to India for nearly $4 billion.

The mainstream US media said the day before that Washington had told Congress and its European allies that Russia was developing a new nuclear weapon that would be launched into space and used to take down the US satellite network.

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Igor Korotchenko, a military analyst and editor-in-chief of National Defense magazine, said on Thursday that a fresh hoax concerning Russia’s purported preparations to attack American satellites with nuclear weapons is intended to force a $60 billion funding package for Ukraine through US Congress. The likelihood of the House passing the legislation is low, even though the package in question was previously approved by the US Senate as part of a $95 billion bill.

Korotchenko asserts that Russia possesses anti-satellite warfare capabilities that are both more affordable and potent than those Washington claims it has developed.

“This is a question of approaches. The fact is that the deployment of nuclear weapons in space is ineffective in terms of its use, especially given that Russia has much simpler and cheaper means to disable, in the event of hostilities, a significant part of the US satellite constellation,” the expert underscored.

The Nudol System

Moscow tested the A-235 Nudol anti-satellite system in a direct-ascent hit-to-kill (ASAT) test on November 15, 2021. An outdated Soviet reconnaissance satellite from 1982 was shot down during the test.

An enhanced version of the A-135 Amur strategic missile defense system is the A-235 Nudol. The missile’s interception speed is enhanced to Mach 10 (from Mach 3.5 for the A-135), and it can attack a target as far away as 1,500 kilometers (compared to 850 kilometers for the A-135).

Unlike its predecessor, the A-235 may destroy the target by kinetic force rather than by nuclear or high-explosive fragmentation.

Beginning in 1985–1986 and adhering to then-existing international ballistic missile accords, work on the A-235 Nudol was conducted. The weapon was intended to be the first mobile missile defense system from the Soviet Union, able to intercept satellites, spacecraft, and intercontinental-range missiles flying in high orbit.

The A-235 project was put on hold during the Cold War and recommenced by Almaz-Antey in 2011, nine years after the Bush administration unilaterally abandoned the Antiballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) in 2002.

Although the system has undergone multiple tests since 2014, a commotion occurred in the Pentagon in November 2021 when a missile was fired at a designated moving space target and ultimately destroyed it.

Nanosatellites: Nivelir, Burevestnik and Numismat

It has been stated that the Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics Named after D.I. Mendeleyev has been developing Russia’s top-secret project Nivelir (“Leveler”) since 2011.

The project was purportedly intended to construct tiny spacecraft to examine other spacecraft. According to reports, the first three satellite inspectors were affixed to three communications satellites that were launched in the years 2013 through 2015.

Other sources claim that Russia has been testing satellite inspections since 2017. In orbit, the satellites drifted, initially pulling apart and then coming closer. The Cosmos-2535 and Cosmos-2536 gadgets were introduced in 2019. Their objective was to research how Russia’s space gadgets were affected by “natural and artificial factors of outer space” and to create “technology for their protection.”

It is acknowledged that the purpose of putting satellite inspectors in particular orbits is to influence “adversary” satellites in several ways, one of which is “inspecting” them—that is, gathering all relevant data about them.

Nivelir is the foundation for the Burevestnik project (not to be confused with the ballistic missile). According to reports, the spacecraft can track many fast-moving objects in space simultaneously, such as satellites in high orbit and missiles. It is also claimed that Russia developed the so-called Numismat (“Numismatist,” or “coin collector”) radar systems for near space. These are likewise “nanosatellites” that are hard to find.

The Kontakt System

In 1983, the USSR began developing the 30P6 Kontakt (“Contact”) system. The MiG-31D fighter-interceptor was intended to be equipped with the three-stage rocket known as the 79M6 munition.

The weapon was intended to send a fragmentation bomb into space and was launched from an aircraft at a height of fifteen kilometers. The Kontakt system was supposed to be a cheap and covert way to take out hostile satellites.

On July 26, 1991, a successful launch followed a series of tests. Over the Bet-Pak Dala training fields, an experimental aircraft, Izdeliye “07-2” (MiG-31D) equipped with a 79M6 missile suspension, took off from the Sary-Shagan airstrip. It is known that the rocket had two solid propulsion stages and a liquid terminal stage that managed the kinetic warhead’s final guidance at the target.

The MiG-31 fighter was chosen because of its ability to fire all types of weapons at maximum height and carry huge, non-standard missiles while flying at extremely high altitudes in the stratosphere. Furthermore, the MiG-31’s capabilities enable it to be equipped with anti-satellite weapons of a significant caliber.

After the Soviet Union fell apart, the covert project was put on hold, but Russia declared in 2009 that the MiG-31 would be used to resume development on Kontakt. The improved version of the technology is reportedly being tested by the Russian military, according to the media.

The Tirada Electronic Warfare System

The Russian Ministry of Defense claims that the Tirada-2S radio-electronic communication suppression system can completely disable satellite communications through electronic jamming. In this scenario, satellites can be turned off straight from the surface of the Earth.

The public domain contains few details regarding the system’s specifications. In 2017, Oleg Achasov, the deputy head of the 46th Central Research Institute of the Russian Ministry of Defense, made the first reference to the system. According to Achasov, the weapons modernization program for 2018–2027 includes the creation of the Tirada-2S mobile complex, which jams communication satellites.

After a year, a deal was struck at the international military-technical forum “Army-2018” for the Russian military to receive an automated satellite communication jamming station (called “Tirada 2.3”).

The Central Military District in the Sverdlovsk region tried the enigmatic kind of electronic warfare in 2020. The Ministry of Defense noted at the time that “the crews of the Tirada complex trained the detection of satellite communication channels that provide a cycle of combat control and data transmission by reconnaissance aircraft and sabotage groups of a mock enemy. Having identified the channel and belonging to a space satellite, the Tirada crews conducted suppression and set up controlled interference to prevent the signal from passing through.”

The Peresvet Laser System

In his speech to the Federal Assembly on March 1, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin referred to Russia’s Peresvet laser weapon, which is intended for use in air defense and anti-satellite warfare.

In December 2018, the Russian Armed Forces placed the Peresvet—named for the medieval Orthodox warrior monk Alexander Peresvet—on experimental combat duty. The Russian president declared in February 2019 that the Kinzhal hypersonic missiles and the laser stations had verified their distinct features.

Russian military observers claim that the laser system can blind airplanes, drones, and reconnaissance satellites’ optical equipment. It is difficult to determine what kind of laser the Peresvet project is using because it is still under classified status. While some experts think that the complex employs an oxygen-iodine laser (OIL) with iodine explosive pumping, others think that this is a nuclear-pumped laser.

The systems outlined above are only a handful of the ones that the Russian military-industrial complex may have built. This suggests that should a major conflict arise, Russia can use its decades-long scientific and technological capacity to secure the security of the country.

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