April 19, 2019 00:02
The stars at gunpoint: what is known about the new anti-satellite weapons
Currently, several countries are working on anti-space systems.
"Nudol" from the Moscow region.
In the early 2010s, it became known in Russia about work on the creation of the Nudol anti-missile and anti-space defense complex with a 14A042 missile . The system got its name in honor of a small river flowing in the Klin district of the Moscow region. The lead developer was VKO "Almaz-Antey". Over time, it is assumed that Nudol will become part of the Amur A-235 complex, which now provides protection for Moscow against intercontinental missiles.
Potentially, the A-235- Nudol bundle is necessary to repel a nuclear strike on the capital and the central industrial region of the country. But the possibilities of the new system are unlikely to be limited to this.
According to foreign media reports, the systems are being tested not at the 10th State Test Site of the Russian Ministry of Defense in Sary-Shagan, where domestic air defense systems are being tested, but in Plesetsk. The cosmodrome, as is well known, works for Russian space programs that are closely related to defense as well as scientific launches.
Based on this, it can be assumed that Nudol is capable of fighting not only with intercontinental rockets, but also with satellites, as well as manned spacecraft .
The name of the system also speaks in favor of this version, where there are the words “anti-space defense” and indices of the products that make up the complex. They include the number 14, which means that they belong to space assets
About the rocket 14A042 little is known. Most likely, this is a two-stage anti-missile, which can be equipped with both conventional and nuclear warheads. You can also assume the approximate weight of the product. In April 2015, when launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome, an experimental rocket crashed. Domestic media reported that the weight of the fallen product was 9.6 tons.
Official representatives of the VKO Almaz-Antey concern later said that a modernized Antey-2500 rocket was launched from the cosmodrome (export version of the S-300VM ZRS). But this rocket weighs about 4 tons, and even in the experimental version it could hardly be “overweight” by more than two times. Therefore, we can not exclude that the accident suffered a product for "Nudoli".
It is still unclear whether the future system will be mobile or mine based . Four years ago, in the corporate calendar of the VKO Almaz-Antey concern, an image of a previously unknown self-propelled launcher based on the MZKT-79291 tractor with two unusually long transport and launch containers appeared. There is a version that this is the mobile version of the Nudol rocket 14A042.
Finally, in December 2018, American media, citing sources in the intelligence community, reported on the sixth successful launch of a rocket for Nudoli in Plesetsk. This time - with the help of a mobile launcher.
But neither the picture on the calendar, nor the description of its launches in the media provide a guarantee that the installation, if, of course, work on it is underway, will be mobile. Rocket 14A042 in its mass-dimensional characteristics close to the US anti-missile GBI, and for its launch need mine.
“Product 07” for “Contact”
In the late 1980s, the MiG Design Bureau carried out a modernization of three MiG-31D interceptor fighters, which were documented as “product 07” . According to the technical assignment, the aircraft had to be adapted for launching anti-satellite aviation missile complex 30P6 "Contact". MiG, working as a first stage, was supposed to "jump out" into the upper atmosphere and launch the Kontakt antisatellite rocket 79M6.
The rocket itself turned out to be quite large, so it was fixed under the “belly” of the aircraft. The length of the ammunition is about 10 m . Presumably, the rocket had a kinetic warhead weighing up to 160 kg, and the product itself consisted of two or three stages.
In the 1990s, work on “Contact” was curtailed. And the modified MiG-31 was supposed to be used for launching small satellites into near-earth orbit. But in the 2000s, the situation changed. In 2009, the commander-in-chief of the Air Force, Colonel-General Alexander Zelin, announced that the MiG-31 version would be created for anti-space defense. Six years ago, the first scraps of messages about the beginning of testing a new system appeared .
In the fall of 2018, the respected aviation magazine Combat Aircraft Monthly posted photos of the MiG-31 with a very large black rocket suspended under the fuselage. The photographs were taken in the flight test center in Zhukovsky near Moscow. According to the authors of the publication, this is a new Russian anti-satellite rocket.
About this "black rocket" almost nothing is known. Most likely, its principle of operation is similar to the old "product 07". The rocket has two or three stages, a kinetic warhead, and it finds a satellite by thermal radiation.
An important ground component of the anti-satellite system of the 30P6 Kontakt complex is the radar-optical space object recognition complex 45Zh6 Krona, which is capable of finding, recognizing satellites and directing MiGs to them . It consists of several stations scattered throughout Russia. Each station consists of a radar and a laser transmitter, which specifies the range and motion vectors of the target.
In 2017, Russia successfully tested a maneuvering military satellite inspector, capable of flying up to other orbiters and inspecting them . During the tests, the maneuvering satellite undocked from the Cosmos-2519 space platform launched on June 23, 2017 and made an autonomous flight. First, he changed the orbit, and then managed to return to the platform and inspect it. During the tests, ground and orbital communications were also tested, ballistic calculation techniques and new software were tested.
Such devices make it possible to determine the functionality of foreign spy satellites. But most importantly , if necessary, the space inspector can be transformed into a fighter satellite .