May 24, 2007

New wars require new weapons

11:39 | 24/ 05/ 2007




MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Kislyakov) - Military dictionaries say that what distinguishes war from peace is the massive use of weapons. But today this interpretation is desperately obsolete.
The goal of a war of the future will not be to seize enemy territory but to deal surgical strikes against sensitive targets.

International borders are not violated, large-scale use of ground troops and armor is becoming a thing of the past, and the role of strategic aviation is diminished. The traditional nuclear triad is being replaced with non-nuclear high-accuracy weapons with different basing modes.

In turn, this implies the presence of numerous satellite-based reconnaissance, warning and targeting systems that themselves require protection. This factor alone makes the development of space weapons inevitable.

This series of articles deals with work on orbital combat systems, modernization of strategic arms and development of entirely new types of weapons.

Space weapons

These are weapons and auxiliary systems designed for deployment and use in space. They consist of different types, principles of action and designations. It is necessary to divide them into active and passive elements. The latter include satellite systems for reconnaissance, communications, and target indication that have been used by many countries for a long time.

The more dangerous type, however, is the active elements, which can be used for anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defense, radio-electronic warfare, orbital bombing of any territory with nuclear and non-nuclear warheads, and anti-satellite weapons.

The main types of space-based assault weapons are:

1. Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Their warheads are put into what is called the "staging orbit." In the event of a crisis and a command to destroy targets, the multiple-warhead-dispensing mechanism comes into action. This basing mode was suggested for the American MX ICBM when Soviet-U.S. tensions reached their peak in the early 1980s.

2. Ground-, air- and space-launched anti-satellite missiles.

3. Directed energy weapons, including chemical and X-ray lasers and beams.

4. Electronic weapons: pulse generators of powerful radio waves for radio-electronic warfare and magnetic-field-generated and plasma compression pulses.

The main point is that space-based weapons allow comprehensive control over the Earth's surface. The appearance of permanent manned military stations in near-Earth orbit is only a matter of time.

Nonetheless, such stations will not be developed in the near future, but automatic systems will. They will be equipped with weapons based on new physical principles. Moreover, there is evidence that a system has already been sent into space equipped with missiles and lasers capable of destroying satellites in low, medium and stationary orbits.

The military rivalry in space between the Soviet Union and the United States in the late 1950s took two forms: anti-missile defense and action against a potential enemy's space-based systems.

In the United States, work in both areas saw mixed success but without any obvious conflicts between the people involved, whereas in the Soviet Union it was dominated by good old-fashioned behind-the-scenes clan struggle.

(To be continued)

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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