It seems that Russia is working on creating anti-satellite weapons of a new type. One that includes a tiny, equipped with weapons satellites, the small upper stage engine and the interceptor MiG-31 that acts as the first stage of the entire system.
Such an amazing statement was made by Bart Hendricks (Bart Hendrickx), which the Internet-the edition “the space review” (The Space Review) called “a longtime observer of the Russian space program.”
At the end of April 2020 Hendricks wrote for this edition a large analytical article, which gathered together the disparate evidence, including photographs, government contracts, and data relating to the tests.
His conclusion is that Russia is developing anti-satellite system in the framework of the project “Thunderbird”. Unlike most other anti-satellite systems “Petrel” for the destruction of orbital targets are not used by any explosive substance or warhead impact. This weapon used a predatory micro-satellites that perform a maneuver in the direction of their targets in low-earth orbit and take them down.
The evidence is very convincing Hendrix. He begins with photographs, which appeared in September 2018. “Aviation photographer noticed something interesting watching the activity of the Flight research Institute named after Gromov in Zhukovsky near Moscow,” wrote Hendricks.
“His attention was attracted by a MiG-31BM with a big black missile, suspended under the fuselage. Although this particular aircraft had seen before, the missile was new. Photos that have been posted online, has puzzled observers. Ammunition seemed too big to be a missile of class “air-air” or “air-surface”. But the rocket had a suitable size for anti-satellite weapons”.
Hendricks studied the open sources to trace the developments of new anti-satellite weapons. “They showed that this project began September 1, 2011 with the state contract, which received the “KBM”, located 100 kilometers from Moscow and specializes in development of weapons. It seems that this organization is the main coordinator of the project”.
In may 2019, PJSC “Saturn” engaged in the production of solar panels and batteries, has prepared a presentation which shows two different satellites, presumably included in the program “Thunderbird”. It seems that these companions are fighting part of the rocket, which the company previously noticed under the fuselage of the MiG-31.
Perhaps the most compelling is the fact that Russia in 2013 is conducting orbital tests of the so-called inspection satellites that can maneuver around other spacecraft ostensibly to check them for damage. Such inspection satellites without major modifications can be used as a weapon to incapacitate enemy spacecraft, instead of inspect your.
“The analysis of publicly available online sources in Russia leaves no doubt that the MiG-31BM and the rocket is part of a broader anti-satellite project called Burevestnik”, — concluded Hendricks.
“Petrel” is not the only Russian anti-satellite system. April 15, 2020 Russia has experienced normal anti-satellite missile, as reported by the space command of the United States.
PL-19 “Nudol” this so-called means of satellite interception with direct orbit insertion. Direct launch — this is the easiest way to build anti-satellite weapons on the target. This is the usual rocket of average weight such as those used by space agencies for the delivery of small loads into orbit. They are cheap in design and easy to use, but use them only against low-flying spacecraft.
Test “Nuoli” as well as private development in the framework of the project “Burevestnik”, suggests that Russia is expanding its space Arsenal.