Holy smokes! This definitely shows where Russia stands with the US. How are we going to be able to combat this?
Russia conducted a successful flight test of a developmental anti-satellite missile on Wednesday that is capable of destroying satellites in orbit, American defense officials said.
The Nudol direct ascent anti-satellite missile was launched from the Plesetsk test launch facility, located 500 miles north of Moscow, said officials familiar with the situation.
The missile was monitored by U.S. intelligence satellites and the test appeared to be successful.
The launch marks another major milestone for Moscow’s efforts to develop weapons capable of destroying U.S. navigation, communications, and intelligence satellites, a key strategic advantage.
No additional details were available, and it could not be learned if the Nudol missile was fired against a satellite or was test launched in a suborbital trajectory without hitting a target.
It was the second successful test of the Nudol, following a Nov. 18 launch, and shows Russia is advancing its anti-satellite weaponry.
Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza declined to comment.
Under Russian President Vladimir Putin, Moscow is modernizing its entire strategic arsenal and developing new weapons like anti-satellite missiles.
Air Force Lt. Gen. David J. Buck, commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, told a House hearing in March that the Russians are developing space weapons, known as “counter-space capabilities.”
“Russia views U.S. dependency on space as an exploitable vulnerability, and they are taking deliberate actions to strengthen their counter-space capabilities,” Buck told the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee.
Gen. John Hyten, the commander of Air Force Space Command, also has said both Russia and China are building space weapons. “They are developing capabilities that concern us,” Hyten has said in press reports.
Russia’s Nudol program has been couched in secrecy, but it appears linked to Moscow’s missile defense systems. State-run press reports in the past have mentioned the Nudol experimental development project as a “a new Russian long-range missile defense and space defense intercept complex.”
Former Pentagon official Mark Schneider said senior U.S. military leaders have been warning about Russian anti-satellite threats for years and regard it as serious.
“GPS guidance has been widely adopted for many of our weapons because it was cheap, all weather, and works well in low and medium intensity conventional conflict,” he said. “The loss of GPS guidance due to [anti-satellite] attack would take out a substantial part of our precision weapons delivery capability and essentially all of our standoff capability.”
Geneva-based Russian military analyst Pavel Podvig speculated whether Russia may have conducted a simulated intercept in the latest test.
How the Nudol program fits within Russia’s military doctrine is difficult to assess, he said.
“My take is that it is not necessarily part of a well thought out strategic plan,” Podvig said.
Soviet-era and current Russian weapons developments were often developed without a clear idea on how they would be employed.