Washington believes that Moscow and Beijing have developed means of destroying and disrupting the operation of American satellites. This statement was made by the commander of the US Space Forces John Raymond. According to him, for this reason, the Pentagon is ready to “act from a position of strength”, interpreting such an approach as a way to “contain the conflict.” According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Russian Federation does indeed have a number of anti-satellite weapons in its arsenal. However, it was the United States that launched the arms race in this area, withdrew from the ABM Treaty. In turn, experts believe that the White House, if it is really concerned about the militarization of outer space, needs to sit down at the negotiating table with the Russian Federation and the PRC.
The commander of the United States Space Forces (CS), Air Force General John Raymond, in an interview with The Washington Post, said that Moscow and Beijing have weapons that can disable American satellites.
According to the military, Russia and China have ground and space-based complexes in their arsenals, as well as means that can disrupt the work of the US orbital group through cyberspace.
“It is clear that space is the same area of warfare as air, land and sea, and this is what has actually materialized here over the past few years, since both China, which is a rapidly growing threat, and Russia have developed weapons, which can either disable our satellites, or destroy them from Earth or from space, or through cyberspace, ”said Raymond.
“Paralyze a potential enemy”
As noted by experts interviewed by RT, the Russian Federation and the PRC in recent years have really achieved serious results in the development of anti-satellite weapons. However, the integration of such systems into the military infrastructure of Moscow and Beijing is aimed primarily at curbing the Pentagon’s military ambitions in outer space.
In particular, the Russian army is armed with the Tirada family of anti-satellite systems, which are electronic warfare (EW) weapons. From open information it follows that this type of weapon in various modifications is already being supplied to the troops of the Central Military District and is constantly being used in exercises.
The “Tirada-2S” electronic communications suppression complex is capable of carrying out electronic jamming of satellite communications with complete disabling. At the same time, the removal of satellites from a working state can be carried out directly from the surface of the Earth, “- says the materials of the RF Ministry of Defense.
- A sample of a mobile anti-satellite complex of the Tirada family (in the background)
- © Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
Despite the fact that not much is known about the characteristics of the “Tirada”, the military calls it a unique means of electronic warfare. The anti-satellite system equipment is located on the platform of the army KamAZ. The complex is produced at the Elektropribor plant in Vladimir.
“Tirade” affects the target through powerful electromagnetic radiation. Earlier in an interview with Interfax, Oleg Achasov, deputy head of the Federal State Budgetary Institution 46 Central Research Institute, explained that the main target of this system is the communication satellites of a potential enemy.
The newest S-500 Prometheus long-range anti-aircraft missile system (SAM), which in the coming years will begin to be supplied to the Russian troops, has the ability to fight enemy satellites.
As the commander-in-chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces Sergei Surovikin said in an interview with Krasnaya Zvezda in the summer of 2020, the S-500, upon completion of certain modifications, will be able to shoot down low-orbit satellites and hypersonic products of all modifications, including in near space. Such opportunities “Prometheus” received thanks to new means of radar and missile weapons.
Another class of anti-satellite weapons of the Russian Federation is represented by the so-called inspector satellites – maneuverable space complexes, which, as some media outlets wrote, are capable of “inspecting” other orbiters and disrupting their work.
We are talking about individual satellites of the “Cosmos” family, created within the framework of the 14K167 “Level” project. If you believe the publications of the media, including specialized foreign publications, such devices can be launched at altitudes from 200 to 1200 km. To move in orbit, Russian space “inspectors” use the “pseudo-impulse” method – a low-cost way of optimizing motion trajectories in terms of fuel consumption.
As the founder of the Military Russia portal Dmitry Kornev said in an interview with RT, most Russian projects in the development and operation of weapons to combat the orbital group are really closed. However, according to him, it is possible to assert with a high degree of confidence that the anti-satellite potential is incorporated “in a number of modern and promising weapons.”
So, Kornev does not exclude that an air-based anti-satellite complex based on the late Soviet missile 79M6 “Contact” may soon be created in Russia. In September 2018, photos of the MiG-31 interceptor fighter with a suspended model of this ammunition were published on the Jetphotos.com resource.
In addition, the American media reported about the testing of “Contact” and its upcoming adoption by the RF Armed Forces, citing sources in US intelligence. Kornev considers the key advantage of such a weapon to be low visibility. According to his forecast, the appearance of the 79M6 in the arsenal of the Aerospace Forces will significantly enhance the anti-satellite capabilities of Russia.
- U.S. Space Forces banner
- © Samuel Corum-Pool / Getty Images
Kornev also believes that another Russian means of combating satellites is the Peresvet self-propelled combat laser complex, which is on alert in the Strategic Missile Forces formations. This weapon, according to the expert, can “blind” the electro-optical systems of a potential enemy’s orbiters.
“Anti-satellite warfare is given a lot of attention in all major military powers, since it allows you to actually paralyze a potential enemy. Now the quality of military intelligence, the operation of the missile attack warning system (EWS), target designation, military and civil communications are very dependent on the normal operation of satellites, “Kornev stated.
It should be noted that the Russian and Chinese programs for the development of anti-satellite weapons have repeatedly become objects of criticism from official Washington.
Meanwhile, according to the Russian military, it was the Western states, including the United States, that were the first to start militarizing the orbital space after the end of the Cold War.
As stated in the materials of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the Americans became pioneers in the development of projects for the deployment of new weapons systems in space and the creation of means to combat foreign spacecraft.
Moscow sees a specific threat to the free use of outer space in the program for the development of the global missile defense system of the United States, which was launched with Washington’s withdrawal from the 1972 ABM Treaty.
For 20 years, the anti-satellite potential of the American missile defense system has been one of the sources of “the Americans’ rejection of any agreements on the non-deployment of weapons in space.” This statement was made earlier by Viktor Poznikhir, First Deputy Chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, at the Xiangshan Security Forum.
According to experts, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) space drone project also poses a threat. It is capable of carrying out missions in orbit for one to two years. Meanwhile, according to the Pentagon, the spacecraft is supposedly assigned exclusively to research functions.
“The X-37B program has two main objectives: creating reusable space technologies to provide America with a future in space and conducting space experiments, the results of which can be returned and explored on Earth,” – says the official Internet portal of the US Air Force.
However, many analysts have the impression that the brainchild of the Boeing corporation will be used mainly for military needs – to coordinate the transmission of information from satellites and to disable foreign orbiters.
The United States authorities regularly emphasize that they view space as a theater of war. In order to dominate the power in orbit during the period of President Donald Trump, a new type of the country’s armed forces was even formed – the Space Forces.
The COP commander in an interview with The Washington Post stressed that for the United States, space is “an area of warfare.” According to him, the United States is ready to pursue a “position of strength” policy here. At the same time, John Raymond said that this approach does not mean the militarization of space.
“Our goal is to prevent this (the unleashing of the conflict. – RT), and for this, in my opinion, it is necessary to act from a position of strength … We do not want to get involved in a conflict that will begin or spread to space. We want to keep this area safe for everyone, ”said Raymond.
- American spacecraft X-37B
- © United States Air Force
In an interview with RT, Nathan Eismont, a leading researcher at the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, stated that Raymond, like other American officials, is promoting double standards on the issue of militarizing space. According to the expert, Washington itself seeks to achieve absolute military superiority in orbit, condemning Moscow and Beijing for militarizing and developing anti-satellite weapons.
“Of course, these are double standards. The opposition to the deployment of weapons in outer space must be universal. If indeed, as the Americans say, there is a threat to the security of space, then de-escalation should be carried out by all three key powers – the United States, Russia and China. Obviously, the militarization of space will only bring undesirable consequences, ”says Eismont.
As the head of the Bureau of Military-Political Analysis, Alexander Mikhailov, suggested in the RT commentary, the statements of the commander of the US Space Forces indicate that Washington has practically ceased to hide the true essence of its approach to the military development of orbital space.
“Americans are openly trying to use any agenda to their advantage. The United States is constantly discussing plans to place weapons in orbit and has built the largest military satellite network in the world. At the same time, Washington condemns the Russian Federation and the PRC for the development of anti-satellite systems. But the threat of militarization was created by the United States itself, and the actions of Moscow and Beijing were already reactive and defensive, “Mikhailov summed up.