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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

14Ts033 Nudol PL-19 Anti-Satellite

Fears of being hit by space debris forced the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) to go into a docked spaceship for their safety twice on 15 November 2021. The US State Department said the debris was the result of an anti-satellite missile test Russia carried out targeting one of its own satellites, adding there was now an increased risk to astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the ISS as well as other human space flight activities. "Earlier today, the Russian Federation recklessly conducted a destructive satellite test of a direct ascent anti-satellite missile against one of its own satellites," US State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a briefing. "The test has so far generated over 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris and hundreds of thousands of pieces of smaller orbital debris that now threaten the interests of all nations."

The State Department said that the danger was far from over. "Russia's dangerous and irresponsible behavior jeopardizes the long-term sustainability of outer space and clearly demonstrates that Russia's claims of opposing the weaponization of space are disingenuous and hypocritical," Price said, adding the US would work with allies on a response. The UK also slammed the Russian anti-satellite missile test, saying that it shows disregard for the security, safety and sustainability of space. "This destructive anti-satellite missile test by Russia shows a complete disregard for the security, safety and sustainability of space," UK Defense Secretary Wallace said.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said "I’m outraged by this irresponsible and destabilizing action. With its long and storied history in human spaceflight, it is unthinkable that Russia would endanger not only the American and international partner astronauts on the ISS, but also their own cosmonauts. Their actions are reckless and dangerous, threatening as well the Chinese space station and the taikonauts on board."

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the anti-satellite missile test "reckless," repeating claims that the debris is now a risk to the ISS and Chinese space stations. Stoltenberg also spoke of the security fears posed by such a test. "It demonstrates that Russia is developing new weapons systems," he said, and pointed out how important it was to protect systems on Earth that are controlled by satellites.

Russia's Defense Ministry on 16 November 2021 admitted that it destroyed a Russian satellite in a missile test but rejected claims that it had endangered the International Space Station or other spacecraft in the operation. "The Russian Defense Ministry successfully conducted a test, as a result of which the Russian spacecraft Tselina-D, which had been in orbit since 1982, was destroyed," the military said in a statement.

The ministry said, however, that debris from the test posed no risk to space activities, contradicting Washington's accusations. "The US knows for certain that the resulting fragments, in terms of test time and orbital parameters, did not and will not pose a threat to orbital stations, spacecraft and space activities," it said, adding that the US, China and India had conducted similar tests in the past.

At a press conference in Moscow just before the statement was issued, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov went on the offensive against the US, saying the country is itself lax on space safety. "To declare that the Russian Federation creates risks for the peaceful use of space is, at the very least, hypocrisy," Lavrov said, adding that the US had ignored Russian and Chinese proposals to discuss a possible agreement on weapons in space.

Russia confirmed its readiness to discuss with the United States and all interested states the entire spectrum of space security issues. This is stated in the commentary by the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, circulated on 15 November 2021. "We confirm our readiness to discuss the entire spectrum of space security issues with all interested states, including the United States. We are convinced that the launch of negotiations on an international agreement prohibiting the deployment of any types of weapons in space, the use or threat of the use of force against or with space objects - the right way to reduce tensions and relieve states' concerns in the context of ensuring the safety of space activities, "the document said.

The diplomat also stressed that Moscow considers it necessary to start agreeing an international legal instrument as soon as possible to prevent an arms race in outer space. "Unlike Washington, Russia did not enshrine in its doctrinal documents the task of achieving military superiority in outer space. On the contrary, from the very beginning of the exploration of outer space, we adhere to a consistent line of preventing an arms race in outer space (PGVK) and preserving space for peaceful purposes," it is noted in the comment. The basis for the work, as indicated in the commentary, is the Russian-Chinese draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space. "The agreement we are proposing could include a ban on the deployment of any types of weapons in space, as well as the use of force or threat of force in space, from space or in relation to space," Zakharova said.

In this regard, Russia called on states to assume certain obligations, in particular, not to use space objects as a means of engaging any targets, not to destroy or disrupt the normal functioning and not to change the flight trajectory of space objects, not to create, test or deploy space objects. weapons of any kind, not to test or use manned spacecraft for military and other purposes, not to provide assistance or induce other states and organizations to participate in the listed activities.

Fragments of a satellite destroyed as a result of tests carried out by the Russian Federation do not threaten the International Space Station (ISS), which is 40-60 km lower. This was reported on 15 November 2021 by the RF Ministry of Defense. "Specialists of the Russian Ministry of Defense, using a software package for visualizing the situation in outer space, based on real data, simulated the movement of tracked and newly discovered space objects with active spacecraft and the International Space Station. The video image clearly shows that objects move in orbits with different inclinations in different In addition, the ISS is located 40-60 km below the fragments of the destruction of the spacecraft," the message said. "From the moment of their appearance, the fragments of the former satellite do not pose any threat to the ISS. The statements about the alleged" risks "for the ISS do not correspond to reality," the ministry stressed.

The Russian Defense Ministry officially didn’t reveal which system it used to shoot down an old Soviet satellite. “We can assume that was a real combat launch of the fifth-generation S-500 surface-to-air missile system which is capable of selecting specific targets in near space and shooting them down,” says Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of 'National Defense’ magazine. According to him, the test data shows that the S-500 will neutralize threats of the new reusable maneuvering orbit weapons which are capable of carrying all types of weapons, including the nuclear ones. “Russia wanted to show that it’s capable of eliminating threats coming from near space. It’s worth mentioning that the S-500 and the S-550 are exclusively defensive weapons. Their tasks are to respond to new types of military threats that will materialize within the next five years in Earth orbit,” mentions Korotchenko. The new complex, which will form the upper layer of the single layered air defense system of Russia, can hit targets at altitudes of up to 200 kilometers. Kosmos-1408, a spy satellite launched in 1982, had a perigee altitude of 465 km (290 mi) and an apogee altitude of 490 km (300 mi). These parameters are roughly double the reported altitude capability of the s-500.

The long-range (transatmospheric) mobile based interceptor missile 14TS033 "Nudol" two-stage anti-missile can be a means of destruction of the new A-235 missile defense system, which is being developed in addition to the A-135 complex deployed around Moscow. The missile is designed to destroy the warheads of intercontinental ballistic missiles and spacecraft in low orbits. In July 2020, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces, Sergei Surovikin, announced that they would strengthen Moscow's missile defense system with new interceptor missiles. A year earlier, in June 2019, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the modernization of Moscow's missile defense system is planned to be completed by 2022.

The Russian PL-19 Nudol system is a variant of the A-235 anti-missile system developed by the Nudol Design Bureau), is primarily focused on anti-satellite missions. Often mentioned in the media, "Nudol", contrary to popular misconception, has nothing to do with missile defense. It is an anti-satellite complex that is currently being tested and on the basis of which the long-range echelon of the anti-missile defense system will probably be recreated in the future. It had been tested seven times by January 2019. It is the 19th system observed at the Plesetsk launch facility [hence PL-19] according to US military intelligence. It is expected that Russian anti-satellite weapons will be aimed at communications satellites and imagery intelligence satellites in low Earth orbit.

"Nudol" is a two-stage solid fuel rocket which is stored in sealed transport-launch container, and in a combat position located in the special silo. There are capable of intercepting nuclear warheads and advanced hypersonic aircraft in near space and the stratosphere. The performance characteristics "Nudol" are much superior to its predecessor — missile complex A-135 "Cupid." So, it can hit a target at a distance up to 1,500 kilometers (850 kilometers from the A-135), and interception rate increased to Mach 10 (compared to the Mach 3.5 of the A-135).

The 14Ts033 Nudol was developed by the Almaz-Antey air defense concern together with the Novator design bureau (Yekaterinburg, rocket 14A042). The development of a modernized version of the A-135 missile defense system was set by Decree of the USSR Council of Ministers No. 585-119 on the construction of the A-135 system, which was released on June 7, 1978. The first draft design of the A-235 missile defense system was probably protected in 1985-1986. As part of the work on the A-235 missile defense system, a new missile system was developed for the long-range atmospheric interception of ballistic and space targets to replace the missile system with the 51T6 missile system of the A-135 missile defense system.

In 2010, the preliminary technical design of the complex 14TS033 was developed, the initial data for the construction work were prepared, and the preliminary technical design of the radar 14TS031 was developed. In 2011, the Almaz-Antey Concern for Air Defense developed working design documentation for the 14Ts033 firing complex, working design documentation of the 1st stage for the 14Ts031 radar complex and a functional software project. GSKB Almaz-Antey in 2011 developed the initial version of the software and algorithmic software (PAO) for the command and computing point (KVP) of the complex, developed working design documentation for the components of KVP 14P078 in terms of the container body and the hardware container, the program and methodology of polygon tests KVP 14P078.

Presumably, the PKO complex missiles have an autonomous inertial control system with correction of the flight path according to the target tracking radar data 14C031. At the final stage of the flight, the missile interception unit uses a radar or combined radar-infrared homing head.

The prospective anti-missile and anti-space defense system Nudol was developed by JSC Concern EKR Almaz-Antey. In the US Department of Defense, the Nudol complex was designated PL-19 (" PL "- the index of missile systems originally tested from Plesetsk). On 12 August 12, 2014, according to Western data, the first launch of the flight test program for complex 14TS033 took place. On 18 November 2015, the first successful launch of the Nudol missile complex and the third launch in the complex missile test program took place. The sixth test launch (according to Western data) was conducted from the Plesetsk training ground on March 26, 2018. The launch was made from a standard mobile launcher. Probably, after the completion of the test program, the complex can be adopted by the Russian Aerospace Forces as part of the updated A-235 PRPO system or as an independent complex.

  1. The launch of August 12, 2014 - from the Plesetsk site - according to the data of the US Department of Defense was unsuccessful, however, according to the web resource planet4589.org, was successful;
  2. Launch April 22, 2015 - Plesetsk - according to the data of the US Department of Defense and web resource planet4589.org, was unsuccessful;
  3. Moscow carried out a successful flight test of its new anti-satellite missile in November 2015, becoming the second nation to arm its military with space warfare weapons. Russia's direct ascent anti-satellite missile, known as Nudol, was successfully tested on 18 November 2015, according to defense officials familiar with reports of the test. It was the first successful test in three attempts, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
  4. Start-up May 25, 2016 - Plesetsk - successful; The fourth launch, the successful test missile of the rocket, it is not known for what purpose the rocket was launched - over the satellite or simply by a suborbital trajectory
  5. The launch on December 16, 2016 - was carried out from the "base in the central part of Russia" (the Kapustin Yar test site?). According to American data, this was the fifth launch of a Nudol missile, and the third successful.
  6. According to the publication "The Diplomat" with reference to the unnamed official representatives of the US Department of Defense, on March 26, 2018 in Russia, from the Plesetsk testing range, another successful test of the missile for anti-satellite interceptor took place. According to the information of the said representatives of the US Department of Defense, this was the sixth test of the Nudol missile (including the fourth successful, according to them), and the first, produced from a standard mobile launcher designed for this complex (before that, launchers).
  7. The Russian PL-19 Nudol, reportedly fired from a mobile launcher, was tested on 23 December 2018, which marked the 7th of the total number of system tests. The anti-satellite missile flew 17 minutes over 1864 miles before it successfully worked in its target area.
  8. U.S. Space Command was aware of and tracking Russia’s direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile test 15 April 2020. “Russia’s DA-ASAT test provides yet another example that the threats to U.S. and allied space systems are real, serious and growing,” said Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, USSPACECOM commander and U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations. “The United States is ready and committed to deterring aggression and defending the Nation, our allies and U.S. interests from hostile acts in space.”
  9. On 16 December 2020 U.S. Space Command Public Affairs Office reported that Russia conducted a test of a direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile. “Russia publicly claims it is working to prevent the transformation of outer space into a battlefield, yet at the same time Moscow continues to weaponize space by developing and fielding on-orbit and ground-based capabilities that seek to exploit U.S. reliance on space-based systems,” said U.S. Army Gen. James Dickinson, U.S. Space Command commander.
  10. Russia carried out a Nudol anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons test against Kosmos-1408 Tselina-D SIGINT satellite (NORAD: 13552, INT DES: 1982-092A) northbound over Plesetsk at about 0245 UTC 15 Nov 2021. US. Space Command for now says it is aware of a "debris-generating event in outer space." Jonathan McDowell noted that " the intercept was generally in the same direction as the satellite velocity vector, rather than against it, minimizing relative velocity but increasing overall inertial velocity of the debris field. Expecting significant debris to higher apogee...""

Russia now joined China as the only states with strategic space warfare weapons. In October, China conducted a flight test of its anti-satellite missile, the Dong Neng-3 direct ascent missile. Analysts said anti-satellite missiles could cripple US intelligence, navigation, and communications capabilities that are critical for both military operations and civilian infrastructure.

The Russian test was a concern for Washington, Representative Mike Pompeo, a Kansas Republican, said. "As President Obama cuts our defense budget and seeks to ally with Putin, the Russians continue to develop their technological abilities to weaponize space and to take out our national technical means – kinetically and through cyber," said Pompeo, then a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. "We can foolishly turn a blind eye to these developments, or acknowledge this threat and develop our own capabilities to ensure that our satellites – military and commercial – are not susceptible to attack or blackmail."

Former Pentagon official Mark Schneider said the Russian test highlights the failure of the United States to prepare for space warfare. "There is an enormous asymmetry in play regarding space weapons," said Schneider, now with the National Institute for Public Policy. "For decades the Congress has prevented the US from putting weapons in space and even developing a ground-based ASAT capability," Schneider said. "There is no such constraint upon the Russians and Russia violates arms control treaties when this is in their interest to do so and they find ample opportunity to do this."

A February 2015 unclassified Defense Intelligence Agency report to the Congress stated that "Chinese and Russian military leaders understand the unique information advantages afforded by space systems and are developing capabilities to deny US use of space in the event of a conflict," Schneider added.

But networks of smaller and cheaper satellites, such as Cubesats and Nanosats, may offer effective platforms to increase and support missions carried out by larger satellites of the US Department of Defense. The idea of a distributed architecture for space support is that instead of one exceptional target, there would be a system that, apparently, could survive some loss of its elements and still be able to provide a function.

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Page last modified: 05-01-2022 12:24:00 ZULU