The US government has reported that the Russian Space Force has once again tested a new missile defense system (known in the West as PL19 Nudol), designed to destroy satellites in low Earth orbit.
According to reports, the new system was created on the basis of the old missile defense system that covered Moscow during the Cold War. Its tests took place on December 15 at the Plesetsk cosmodrome.
PL19 Nudol is a so called "direct start" system. An interceptor missile is launched from a ground-based mobile launcher, after which it rushes into space to intercept the target. Anti-satellite defenses also include interceptors and jammers that block signals from enemy satellites from space and special combat lasers.
PL19 Nudol is a version of the A-235 missile defense system. In accordance with the ABM Treaty between the USSR and the United States, they could have only 100 of these missiles. Currently, the agreement is no longer valid. In the Russian media, since 2017, information periodically appears about training launches of interceptor missiles in service with the Russian Aerospace Forces. Their characteristics and even their appearance are classified. They are known to be capable of intercepting both flying warheads and satellites in low orbit.
The United States has similar anti-missile systems, the SM-3 and GBMD, which are tasked with destroying medium and long-range missiles. During the exercises in 2008, the satellite was successfully intercepted (altitude 246 km, speed 34.5 thousand km / h). The target was destroyed by an SM-3 anti-missile missile from the USS Lake Erie.
According to experts, the Russian Aerospace Forces are armed with at least three more anti-satellite systems. These are the Contact system, launched from a modified MiG-31, and the Peresvet anti-satellite laser, which disables optical sensors of spy satellites and the orbital system of small interceptor satellites ASAT.