Russia has tested an “anti-satellite” weapon – at least Pentagon said so, branding Moscow’s calls against militarization of space “hypocritical.” The US itself has had such weaponry for years already, however.
News of the Russian test of a missile, allegedly capable of destroying satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), was broken by the chief of US Space Command General John Raymond.
The test is yet “another example that the threats to US and allied space systems are real, serious, and growing,” the Space Force chief of operations said.
What is it that Russia tested?
The test itself remains a mystery. No satellites, target or otherwise, were destroyed to back Raymond’s assertion. The missile system in question, known as Nudol (pronounced like ‘noodle’), has been in development for decades and was tested at least five times over the past few years.
While little to no official information on it exists, the weapon is believed to be a potential successor to the A-135 system, the core of the ballistic missile defense deployed in the Moscow region.
Such a role makes the new system a purely defensive one. It is not known whether Nudol is even able of hitting satellites in space. That has not stopped the US military to repeatedly attribute such a capability to it.
Even if Raymond’s claim is true, that does not make Nudol any less of a defensive system, given the US Space Force’s publicly stated plans to put weaponized satellites into space, believes Alexey Leonkov, editor of the Russian weapons and military magazine Arsenal Otechestva.
“It might have an ‘additional option’ of targeting military satellites. The Americans are seeking to put more military satellites into space,” Leonkov told. The US military satellite program includes anti-satellite interceptors, laser anti-missile systems, and even space-based kinetic weapons capable of hitting ground targets, he added.
According to Gen. Raymond, however, it’s Moscow’s repeated calls for keeping space weapons-free that are “hypocritical.”
“This test is further proof of Russia’s hypocritical advocacy of outer space arms control proposals designed to restrict the capabilities of the United States while clearly having no intention of halting their counterspace weapons programs,” Raymond said.
The US military should hardly talk about hypocrisy, given its own active anti-satellite weaponry program, former Pentagon official Michael Maloof told.
It’s the height of hypocrisy that the general calls out Russia on something that the United States has been doing.