RUSSIA’S SPACE DEFENSES STAGE A REVIVAL


03.10.06
MOSCOW. (Colonel General Vladimir Popovkin for RIA Novosti)

The early warning system of Russia’s Space Troops is to get a new addition this year: a radar station, Voronezh-M, is being completed and tested under real conditions in the Leningrad Region. Stations of this type feature improved characteristics while taking less time and resources to deploy, maintain and run. The new radar will close the gap in radar coverage created seven years ago by the phasing out of the Russian station near Skrunda in Latvia.

By the end of the year we plan to put the station on trial combat duty, and in 2007 on full combat duty. A network of such stations will be deployed both at existing sites and in new areas threatened by missiles. The first step will be to replace old stations outside Russia – one in Azerbaijan, two stations in Ukraine, and stations in Kazakhstan and Belarus. Strategic priority will be given to the southern border. Such a network will spell the end of the problems related to perimeter coverage created by the break-up of the U.S.S.R.

Space Troops: five years on

This year, the first of the ten-year federal space program, Russia has increased its space budget by as much as one-third compared with 2005. Funds are also allocated through two other channels — the state armaments program for 2007-2015 (defense and security) and the special federal programs “Global Navigation System” and “Development of Russian Space Centers in 2006-2015”. Despite this, Russia, the one-time leader in space exploration (next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the first artificial satellite launched by the U.S.S.R.), ranks sixth in space spending, lagging not only behind the U.S., but also China and India. In the second half of the 1990s, Russia’s military space potential dropped to its lowest level ever in most respects, and some systems were near the point of no return. In 2001, the orbiting GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) time-coordinate positioning constellation, for example, was down to eight satellites from 24 in 1995. Overall, it has b
een trimmed down from 186 to the present 94-97.

In the five years of their existence, the Space Troops’ main achievements have been averting a potential crisis in military space and space missile defenses, stopping the quantitative and qualitative degradation of the orbital constellation and its ground infrastructure, and creating the preconditions for its revival so that it can fulfill its tasks effectively.

Beginning next year, the Space Troops will start launching mainly new types of military spacecraft under test and deployment programs drawn up for orbital constellations. By 2009-2010, this switch will be effected in all key areas of the military space program. The number of space missile systems used will be reduced. At the same time highly toxic components of rocket fuel will be phased out to be replaced by environmentally clean booster vehicles.

The medium-class Soyuz-2 rocket, being developed as a complete upgrade of the currently used environmentally safe rockets of the Soyuz series, is sure to become the most sought-after booster to launch military-purpose spacecraft for the next decade. One of the launching priorities is to set up an Angara system at the Plesetsk space center, built around a unified series of environmentally clean rockets, including those of the heavy class. The first test launchings of the Angara are scheduled for 2010-2011.

Further efforts to develop GLONASS will continue, as decreed by the president and specified in a government decision. This year, the plan is to launch three GLONASS-M spacecraft with a guaranteed 7-year orbital life, and six more in 2007. Starting in 2008, a new generation of GLONASS-K spacecraft with an orbital life of 10 to 12 years will be made available. These plans, if realized, will bring the orbital GLONASS constellation to its full strength of 24 spacecraft, with four of them having an orbital life of 10 to 12 years.

Among the problems being addressed by the Troops together with the Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos), are delays in the development of advanced systems and their adoption for service, as well as an emerging negative trend in the quality of weapons supplied. Another issue is undoubtedly rigid resource- and population-dictated restrictions that demand new approaches to the technical policy for maintaining and developing space systems and space missile defenses and keeping them ready for use in the state’s defense and security interests.

It is these restrictions that stand in the way of Russia’s ability to tackle all aspects of military space at one go and that have forced it to adopt a phased approach. “There is an imbalance in the development of orbital and ground-based infrastructure; we are increasingly lagging behind the leading world powers, especially the U.S., in space control, and have not resolved all matters related to relieving the Space Troops of duties not typical of the state’s military complex and handing them over to civilian agencies.”

Air and space defense

Air and space defense is just one of Russia’s strategic goals, along with strategic deterrence and general-purpose strategic actions. The 2007-2015 state armaments program has a section dealing with air and space defense until 2016 and beyond. It outlines the main areas and stages of building air and space defenses over the next 20-30 years.

The concept allocates responsibility for countering air and space attacks of different types and classes to relatively independent but cooperating components of Russia’s air and space defense system. It also defines phases of integrative processes to counter potential threats as they develop into real attacks by other states.

Concerning further integration of efforts and resources to use space-based systems, we will stick to the principle of reasonable sufficiency. Here it is worthwhile to establish several integrated space systems: reconnaissance, communications, and navigational-time and geodetic positioning. These systems act relatively independently in delivering space information to the consumer. Their closer integration is undesirable on cost-effectiveness criteria.

Space infrastructure is now increasing its role throughout the world in boosting both the military might and social and economic prosperity of the leading world states. In military matters, space-based systems are the key to information supremacy. They provide more accurate and prompt information about the situation to all troops and weapons systems. Space resources have therefore become a matter of vital interest for the state economically, politically and militarily.

The drive to possess these resources and control their use may in the foreseeable future expand the sphere of military operations and move them to outer space. Russia is against this scenario in principle, and is making every effort to prevent its realization. But we, like most of the space powers, are considering methods of protecting our orbital constellations of spacecraft and space resources against possible discriminatory and restrictive moves. If foreign states develop and deploy space-strike infrastructure, Russia must be ready to take adequate defensive and offensive measures.

In the field of military space, our emphasis will logically be on unmanned craft. As regards the peaceful uses of space, Russia’s federal space program provides for a balanced development of both segments, manned and unmanned. The Space Troops were active in formulating and agreeing on the program’s draft, and they continue to contribute to its implementation, notably the International Space Station (ISS) project.

Colonel General Vladimir Popovkin is commander of the Space Troops of the Defense Ministry of Russia.-0-