A defense source tells Russian media that military engineers have advanced work on the next big anti-satellite weapon.
Russian defense companies have created a plane-mounted laser that can hit satellites — at least according to an anonymous source quoted by Russian news agency Interfax. On Saturday, an Interfax report cited the source as saying that weapons maker Almaz-Antey has “completed work on the anti-satellite complex,” which includes the laser and associated ground control gear.
Independent and Western observers have not yet verified the claim. But the Russian program does exist. Last April, Almaz-Antey general designer Pavel Sozinov told Russian news agency Ria Novosti that Russian leadership had ordered the company to develop weapons that could interfere electronically with or achieve “direct functional destruction of those elements deployed in orbit.”
The program builds off the Soviet-era Beriev A-60, a gas laser fitted inside a heavily modified Ilyushin Il-76MD cargo plane. The effort also bears some resemblance to the Soviets’ 1984 Kontakt 30P6 program, which sought to modify a MiG-31D to draw targeting data from the Krona-N space and satellite observation complex and shoot down an enemy satellite with a 79M6 Kontakt missile.
The new laser will be fitted aboard a brand-new, as-yet-unnamed aircraft, as part of a new anti-satellite “complex” that will likely involve ground and radar elements as well, Interfax reported.