In a further escalation of the space arms race, Russia has launched and tested an anti-satellite missile on Nov. 18. The missile system, called the Nudol, seems to be part of the missile defense system and has a limited anti-satellite capability.
The Washington Free Beacon reports that Col. Andrei Cheburin, commander of Russia’s missile defense battalion in the Aerospace Forces, told the Russian radio on Saturday that missile defenses are being upgraded.
“Very soon we will receive an upgraded missile defense system with new means of destruction, thus fulfilling the task of providing missile defense for Moscow in any environment,” he told Russian radio, the state-run Interfax news agency reported Monday.
Pavel Povdig, director of the online Russian Nuclear Forces Project said, “The information is scarce, but as far as I can tell, Nudol is developed as a component of a missile defense system. It may be related to the program that would upgrade the Moscow missile defense. It might be part of the project known as Samolet-M.”
Russia and China recognize that satellite communications, imagery, and navigation are critical to U.S. military capabilities and power. Any student of asymmetric warfare would see anti-satellite weapons as a pressure point in a conflict with the United States and could level the playing field quickly.
Many analysts believe the U.S. has been slow to counter the space weapon threat by potential adversaries, considering itself bound by agreements that Russia or China frankly don’t abide by when it is in their interest not to. China has tested multiple anti-satellite weapons systems in recent history and is likely to continue to do so, as well as Russia and Iran.