|RUSSIA’S SPACE DEFENSES STAGE A
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
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
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
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-