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The Soviet Challenge in Space: Illustrating the Threat

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The Soviet Challenge In Space: Illustrating The Threat


Defensive Weapons

Beginning in the 1960s, the Soviet Union conducted a substantial research program to develop a defense against ballistic missiles. The Soviets built, and Russia continues to maintain, the world's only operational anti-ballistic missile system. Additional programs focused on the development of other ground- and space-based weapons using laser, particle beam, and kinetic energy technology.

   
Pushkino ABM Site

Pushkino ABM Site

The Soviet Union built the world's only operational anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system around Moscow in the 1970s. Beginning in 1980, they improved and expanded this system. Two of these improvements are shown in this 1983 illustration: the silo-based, nuclear-tipped Gazelle interceptor missile and a new large radar intended to control ABM engagements.
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Image courtesy DIA

   
Space Laser

Space Laser

Soviet research into ground- and space-based laser weapons systems began in the 1960s. The Soviets actually built several ground-based lasers in the 1980s, which reportedly could destroy or interfere with satellites and aircraft. The space-based laser system envisioned in this 1987 work was designed to destroy or incapacitate satellites and intercontinental ballistic missiles, but it was never built.
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Image courtesy DIA

   

Particle Beam Weapon

 

Particle Beam Weapon

The Soviets first explored the use of space-based particle beam weapons in the late 1960s. As portrayed in this 1987 illustration, the weapon would have targeted satellite or intercontinental ballistic missiles with high-velocity particle beams. The Soviet Union also studied other space-based directed-energy weapons, including some using laser and kinetic energy technology. None of these types of weapons was ever deployed.
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Image courtesy DIA

 



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