Russia has completed the latest test of its new anti-satellite missile which is capable of wiping out essential US navigation, communications and intelligence technology in orbit.
The sixth test flight of the ‘Nudol’ is believed to have taken place at Plesetsk Cosmodrome, 500 miles north of the Russian capital, Moscow, on March 26.
On this occasion, the weapon, also known as PL19, is said to have been launched from its eventual transporter for the first time suggesting a major step forward in its development.
In the past, the project has been shrouded in secrecy but Russian state reports have insisted that the Nudol is for defense purposes, describing it as ‘a new Russian long-range missile defense’.
But experts say the interceptor missile’s main job is to accelerate out of the Earth’s atmosphere and strike large objects, using kinetic energy.
It comes as Russia continues to modernise its strategic arsenal under President Vladimir Putin.
A Defense Intelligence Agency report to Congress in February 2015 stated: ‘Russia’s military doctrine emphasizes space defense as a vital component of its national defense.
‘Russian leaders openly assert that the Russian armed forces have anti-satellite weapons and conduct anti-satellite research.’
The first successful test launch of the Nudol was in late 2015 as part of a wave of next-generation kinetic interceptor systems currently being developed by Russia.
After a previous test in 2016, former Pentagon official Mark Schneider warned that the consequences of an anti-satellite attack on the U.S. could be devastating.
‘The loss of GPS guidance due to [anti-satellite] attack would take out a substantial part of our precision weapons delivery capability and essentially all of our standoff capability,’ he said
Air Force Lt. Gen. David J. Buck, commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, said in the same year that ‘Russia views U.S. dependency on space as an exploitable vulnerability, and they are taking deliberate actions to strengthen their counter-space capabilities.’
It comes as Russia test fired a huge new P-500 Bazalt rocket – a turbo-jet, supersonic weapon capable of travelling at more than 1,800mph.
A video also shows the missile being blasted from the Marshal Ustinov missile cruiser at sea.