Russia Successfully Tests New Missile Defense Interceptor

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Russia Successfully Tests New Missile Defense Interceptor

Written by Arkady Savitsky; Originally appeared at strategic-culture.org

As part of its ballistic missile defense (BMD) system, Russia tested a new interceptor missile at the Sary Shagan testing range in Kazakhstan on Feb. 11. It was its third straight successful BMD test. The preceding two trials took place in 2017. Much of the information about the new missile, dubbed the PRS-1M, is classified. It is reported to have a speed of up to 4 km per second. The weapon is lighter than its predecessors, such as the 53T6 (part of the A-135 missile system), and boasts an upgraded guidance system. Special equipment has been installed to overcome countermeasures employed by intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The PRS-1M will soon complete its testing and become operational.

The missile is a component of the Nudol A-235 BMD system, which is in the development stage. Unlike the A-135, which protects Moscow, the A-235s could be deployed in many places, thus shielding the entire country.

Russia has S-400 and S-500 systems (not yet in service) to protect against incoming strategic ballistic missiles. The S-400 and S-500 can fend off ICBMs.

America has spent $40 billion on its ground-based BMD. But very expensive is not the same as very effective. Spending more than anyone else does not automatically make the US the leader in the race. Many of America’s achievements that have been so hyped by the media have been exaggerated. So much of its money and efforts have gone right down the drain, because none of the American systems can offer protection against sophisticated offensive missiles.

Unlike Russian BMD interceptors, US GBI interceptors (part of its Ground-Based Midcourse Defense, GMD) are designed for a kinetic “hitting a bullet with a bullet” kill and, unlike Russian interceptors, carry no payloads. They kill with sheer speed. At the very beginning of 2018, the US had 44 interceptors stationed in Alaska and California. The probability of a kill is low, even against a threat coming from North Korea. It’s generally believed to be around 25%. At least four GBIs are needed to hit a warhead. This figure should be doubled (or better, quadrupled) in order to boost the kill probability. And Russia has MIRVed missiles with as many as 8-10 reentry vehicles. It is hardly realistic to create a reliable BMD system that can ward off strategic ballistic missiles, especially if that system relies on kinetic kill.

The Americans’ latest test of the sea-based Standard Missile 3 Block IIA ballistic missile interceptor failed on Jan. 31, 2017. Prior to that, it had also failed in June 2017. The missile is still in development. It will take time before it is operational. The previous naval SM-3 versions can only take on medium- and intermediate-range missiles; they are ineffective against strategic offensive weapons. The Standard Missile 3 Block IIA is supposed to possess some limited capability against ICBMs under certain conditions, but so far no tests have confirmed it.

It’s worthy of note that the US has conducted all its trials in a benign environment. The targets had only one warhead. Their arrival was known in advance. No decoys or other missile-defense breaching systems were employed. But even under such conditions, only 50 % of the GMD tests conducted since 1999 have been successful. The US ability to shoot down unsophisticated North Korean missiles is doubtful.

Actually, the US BMD program is nothing to brag about. The cost is too high and the technology is still wet behind the ears.

The United States was the first nation since WWII to abandon a major arms-control agreement when it pulled out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002. It was a very destabilizing move, as the treaty was the cornerstone of arms control at that time. That decision has impaired the disarmament process.

Was it worth it? Nothing has been done so far that would have actually violated the 1972 treaty, were it still in force. The agreement banned the deployment of over 100 interceptors at a single site, but the testing of BMD systems was allowed. The ship-based Aegis (SM-3) is not a violation either. Air-based systems were not permitted, but the US has shelved its airborne laser anyway. Instead of tearing up the treaty, the US could have agreed to remain bound by it while also testing the GMD, Aegis, and whatever weapons it could, without activating the systems that are of little use anyway.

With the ABM agreement no longer in force, it was impossible for Moscow to ratify the 1993 START II Treaty, which banned multiple warheads (MIRV) – the most destabilizing weapons. Now Russia intends to keep its heavy MIRVed missiles in order to make sure that no BMD could counter its retaliatory strike, if attacked. And Russian missiles can autonomously change course in mid-air to dodge interceptors.

China is also constantly modernizing its reentry vehicles, so those could prevail over any BMD system. As a result, the US has become less safe.

In its turn, Russia has equipped its ICBMs and SLBMs with countermeasure systems. They are able to outmaneuver any missile-defense system. The US has no effective measures in place against decoys.

The fact that there is no existing agreement to regulate missile-defense efforts is a major obstacle on the path to reduce nuclear arms. The US plans to move its BMD “shield” into new domains. Russia and China will take measures to repel the threat. An arms race will be unleashed and everyone will lose. There will be no winners. But the US military will rake in more money and keep on asking for new appropriations.

The US abandoned the ABM Treaty to ensure that it could use nuclear weapons with impunity, making itself absolutely secure. But as a result, America has spent enormous sums of money to make itself even less safe. Huge outlays of cash have not made it the leader in the missile-defense race. After all, the US trials in 2017 failed twice but Russia’s test on Feb. 11, 2018 was a success, as was its previous dry run last November.

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  • FlorianGeyer

    This is good news indeed for world peace.

    • You can call me Al

      Whilst you would think so, I don’t think we can equate logical thought and Countries that want peace to the US in anyway at all…..for me this will just make them more aggressive.

      • FlorianGeyer

        The US is akin to a wild beast that eats prescription drugs and the latest school shooting is I suspect another example of psychotic behaviour in circa 70% of the American populace.

        Such people cannot be reasoned with.

        • AM Hants

          That school shooting and I am out of order. First thought is false flag, second, well what headlines do they need to disappear, besides the Steele Dossier and Egypt and the US committing war crimes in Syria.

          It may be true, and deepest sympathy if so. However, owing to their addictive use of false flags, it now means nought to me. Cannot be bothered, but, will happily apologise, should I be wrong. Or even if it is a false flag, with genuine loss of life,I take back all I have said and deepest sympathy.

          • Terra Cotta Woolpuller

            Watch The Haircut by boyboy hey are from Australia and did some research into the US joke about Kim Jong Un’s hairstyles. This is a very funny take on how the US is so obsessed with hating and dehumanizing their people opposed to them.

          • AM Hants

            Must admit, I know little of North Korea, but, go with the fact they are not a nation that goes around invading others. Plus, they have no Rothschild Central Bank. If the media hate them, then they must be doing something right. Also, I find the President has such a kind and gentle face, so nothing makes sense, apart from media hysteria and they always have to find a bogeyman. As I said, I know very little about the nation and just listening to ‘Haircut Boy’. Poor love.

            That video was brilliant. What a difference a hair cut made. It was so nice to see a presenter, with an animated and intelligent face, and not ‘botox stiff’. Love their take on comparisons. Simple, yet packed such a powerful delivery. The video of life in North Korea, well, it backed my views of how I perceive the President haha. Must admit, I did find myself laughing at the beauty of ‘New Town’ and how original and unique they believe themselves to be. When compared with the people of North Korea, who were happily dancing in the street.

            If visiting either place, it would be North Korea that I would be attracted to. Just based on that video.

          • FlorianGeyer

            It is true that many of these ‘incidents’ coincide with news that the US is unhappy about.

            The Deep State in any nation is never shy of mass murder, so a plot to murder Americans by the Deep State of the US is very possible.

            The US and Israel are so distrusted now, even by American citizens, that anything is possible.

    • TiredOfBsToo

      Only among governments run by sane people and not psychopaths like in the US.

      • FlorianGeyer

        Has there ever been a nation so angry , self obsessed, violent and importantly , poorly educated in general knowledge and reason in the world ?

        • TiredOfBsToo

          I don’t know, I’m not a historian but it just might qualify as more attributes of the exceptionalism we hear so much about.

          • FlorianGeyer

            I had a girlfriend once who thought she was ‘exceptionally clever’. She was a walking disaster.

            I had another girlfriend who was actually very clever with a very high IQ but also dyslexia. She was a nightmare.

            I now have 2 cats and its marvellous :)

          • Bob

            A self declaration of exceptionalism translates as exceptionally self grandiose!

          • FlorianGeyer

            It does indeed and the old proverb ‘ You cannot make a silk purse out of a sows ear’ is timeless :)

          • TiredOfBsToo

            hahahah :-)