What can Russia oppose against the Pentagon’s combat satellites?

This post was published in VPK. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.


MOSCOW, (BM) – In mid-August, the doctrine of the US Space Force (CS), founded last December as the new, sixth, branch of the American Armed Forces, was formulated. The document with the spectacular title “Space Power” speaks not so much about the defensive tasks of the CS as about the offensive ones, which should contribute to the establishment of American hegemony in space.

At the same time, the command of the COP will be able to send combat satellites into the attack, in fact, at its discretion. “Offensive operations are aimed at the space capabilities and anti-space defense systems of the enemy, at reducing the effectiveness and lethality of enemy forces in all areas. Offensive operations are aimed at achieving an advantage and the ability to neutralize enemy space missions before they are deployed against friendly forces,” the document says.

Moreover, preventive strikes can extend not only to enemy missile defense systems, but also to be carried out in relation to “the entire spectrum of the enemy’s anti-satellite potential”, which includes ground targets and objects in cyberspace. That is, it is, in fact, a reanimated Star Wars program that Reagan tried to implement in his time.

The creation of the COP was given to Trump, who also decided to play Star Wars, with great difficulty, since everything that the COP is doing now was the prerogative of the US Air Force, whose competence extended far beyond the earth’s atmosphere. Therefore, the lobby of the Department of the Air Force in every possible way slowed down Trump’s initiatives in Congress.

However, his supporters also acted effectively. If opponents instilled in congressmen an unpretentious idea of ​​the harmfulness of dispersing money, then supporters intimidated with the Russian threat. Russia is building a powerful network of surveillance satellites that will soon begin to destroy American GPS satellites. And without these signals, the US banking and energy systems will not be able to work. And the cataclysm will come.

Engineering thought, creating a means of dealing with orbital spacecraft, literally gushed on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Both in the United States and in the Soviet Union in the 60-90s, the development of a wide variety of anti-satellite weapons was going on in a continuous stream. For four decades, more than thirty various projects were opened in each of the countries, the vast majority of which were curtailed, being not brought to the stage of testing prototypes.

Projects for ground, air, sea, underwater and space-based satellite fighters were being worked out. There were projects of manned rocket interceptors. And all these projects have in common the method of destroying satellites mechanically – either through a high-energy strike or defeat in the explosion of the interceptor warhead.

At the same time, the launch of interceptor missiles from ground launchers or from aircraft (F-15, MiG-31) seemed much more promising compared to the placement of interceptors in space. This is due to the fact that at that time there were no sufficiently reliable instruments that would allow spacecraft to move between orbits with high dynamics for a long time. The accuracy of targeting interceptors was also lame.

But, nevertheless, an orbital interceptor was created in OKB-52 under the leadership of Vladimir Chelomey, which was put into service in the mid-70s. The device, maneuvering in space, approached the enemy satellite at a distance of about one kilometer, after which the explosives were detonated. The sheathing, which had a cellular structure, flew apart, the fragments put the enemy satellite out of action. This complex, called IS (“Satellite Fighter”), existed until the early 80s, when it was considered obsolete. And the last time he worked flawlessly in June 1982 at the strategic exercises Shield-82, in which the scenario of the beginning of a nuclear war was played.

Concrete results came only in the XXI century. A clear separation of the means of intercepting low-orbit satellites and those in geostationary orbit has appeared. Low satellites are now intercepted without any problems by land-based or sea-based missiles. The Chinese were the first to prove this in 2006, intercepting an exhausted meteorological satellite located at an altitude of 864 km. The DF-21 medium-range ballistic missile was used.

A year later, the Americans did the same with the aid of the Aegis naval missile defense system. Anti-aircraft missile SM-3 hit the reconnaissance satellite at an altitude of 247 km. Russia did not participate in this race, because it is clear that it has the necessary tools for this: the MiG-31 interceptor fighter with the R-37M long-range supersonic missile, the S-400 air defense missile system, the Moscow A-135 Amur missile defense system , a promising complex “Rudolf”.

Another promising area is laser. And it, too, can already be partially realized – in terms of temporary “blindness” of video surveillance equipment. In order to incapacitate it, that is, to burn it, significant energy is required.

The Soviet Union came close to creating a “burning laser” at the very end of the 80s. Complex “Skif”, which weighed about 80 tons, was installed on the flying laboratory and worked normally. When it had to be launched into space on a super-heavy rocket Energia, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, this project, like many others, collapsed.

And finally, interception with the help of a powerful electromagnetic pulse, which is capable of burning all the electronic components of the satellite. Moreover, this method does not seem so fantastic. Relatively recently, generators of EMP (electromagnetic pulses) have appeared, the principle of which consists in the ultra-fast closure of the turns of the inductor by means of an explosion, as a result of which super-strong currents arise, generating a powerful short electromagnetic pulse.

The solution to this problem was approached in ground complexes. For example, in the Russian “Alabuga”. It works, but so far not reliably and steadily enough, in connection with which there is still no question of adopting the “Alabuga” into service.


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