On Monday, Russian aerospace forces tested a newly upgraded anti-ballistic missile (ABM) at the Sary-Shagan test site in Kazakhstan. The ABM system is designed to fly at speeds in excess of three kilometers per second – more than four times faster than a bullet from an AK47.
The Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed the launch and said the weapon is designed to protect the Russian capital of Moscow from air and space attacks. ABM systems are intended to intercept enemy nuclear-armed ballistic missiles meant to fly in high sub-orbital paths before returning to Earth’s atmosphere to strike their target.
Col. Sergei Grabchuk, the commander of the anti-missile defence system told the Russian state-run Ruptly, “At the Sary-Shagan training ground in the Republic of Kazakhstan, the combined crew of the air and anti-missile defence forces of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Strategic Missile Forces successfully conducted another test launch of a new ‘anti-missile’ of the Russian missile defence system.”
“During the test of the missile, the effectiveness of the predetermined characteristics was reliably confirmed,” Grabchuk said. “The combat crews successfully completed the mission, hitting the conditional target with a given accuracy.”
Grabchuk said the new missile can travel at speeds in excess of three kilometers per second (about 1.9 miles per second); a speed more than four times faster than the 700 meter per second (.43 miles per second) muzzle velocity of a bullet fired from an AK-47 rifle.
According to the Daily Mail, the new Russian ABM can intercept enemy missiles 250 miles away.
The new Russian ABM has not yet been named.
In a hearing before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee last week, Army Gen. James Dickinson detailed Russia’s continued efforts to develop counter-space weapons. Dickinson, the commander of the U.S. Space Command (SPACECOM) said, “They clearly have no intention of halting their own ground-based and on-orbit counterspace weapons systems.”
Both Russia and the U.S. have been working to advance technologies that can intercept enemy nuclear ballistic missiles, such as the ABM. Russia has had the A-135 ABM system in place since 1995 and this new ABM system is expected to provide even more advanced missile intercepting capabilities.
The U.S. also has had an ABM system, known as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) or National Defense Missile, in place since the 1990s. According to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the GMD can intercept both intermediate and long-ranged ballistic missiles. A total of 44 GMD systems are in place at Fort Greely, Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
The U.S. GMD represents a ground-based U.S. ABM system. In November, the U.S. Navy also successfully tested a sea-based missile defense system, the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile, against an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) representative target. The SM-3 Block IIA was originally intended to intercept short and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, but MDA spokesman Mark Wright said the missile “proved a capability beyond its original design parameters.” The successful intercept was the first time the U.S. has shot down an ICBM target using a sea-based missile defense system.