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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


14Ts033 Nudol PL-19 Anti-Satellite

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 missiel 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 the 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 the 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 it 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 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 reportd 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.

Russia now joined China as the only nations 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 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: 25-08-2021 17:17:11 ZULU