Chapter III - Strategic Defense and Space Operations
Since World War II, the Soviets have pursued wide-ranging strategic
defense programs in a clear and determined effort to blunt the effect
of any attack on the USSR. These programs are reflective of Soviet
military doctrine, which calls for equal attention to defensive as well
as offensive capabilities. The USSR today maintains the world's only
operational antisatellite(ASAT) and antiballistic missile (ABM) defense
systems. This two-layer ABM strategic defense system has been
continually improved over the past 2 decades.
As early as 1965, the Soviets were writing about an anti-space defense
mission, which they described as a component of their strategic defense
program. To the Soviets, the main purpose of an anti-space defense
would be to destroy space systems in orbits that were being used by the
enemy for military purposes. The principal means of destruction would
be special aircraft and vehicles controlled either from the ground or
by crews onboard a space vehicle.
During the past decade allocated resources equivalent $400
billion to both strategic defensive programs in almost equal amounts -
about $20 billion per year for each program. During the same time, the
cost of Soviet military space programs approached $80 billion.
Soviet writings on the nature of future war suggest that
strategic defenses will be expanding to include defense against cruise
missiles and precision-guided conventional munitions that could be
targeted against Soviet strategic forces in any protracted conventional
war. As a result of this view of global conventional war fought under
the constant threat of escalation to the use of nuclear weapons, the
Soviets are likely to continue to enlarge their strategic defense and
space operations beyond the extensive structure and investment existing
In addition to its ABM system, the USSR has a multifaceted operational
strategic air defense network that dwarfs that of the US, as well as a
wide-ranging research and development program in both traditional and
advanced defenses. This active program employs various weapon systems
to protect territory, military forces, and other key assets throughout
the USSR. Moreover, the Soviets' passive program includes civil defense
and structural hardening to protect important political, economic, and
military leaders and facilities.
Recent activities in the Soviet strategic defense program are as follows:
- upgrading and modernizing the operational ABM defense, which is around Moscow;
-continued construction of a large phased array radar (LPAR) at
Krasnoyarsk for ballistic missile early warning and tracking, in
violation of the ABM Treaty;
-construction of three additional LPARs, bringing the number to nine;
-further modernization of strategic air defense forces;
of a new over-the-horizon radar in the Soviet Far East for detecting
long-range aircraft operating over the Pacific Ocean;
- continued extensive research into and development of
advanced technologies for ballistic missile, ASAT, and air defense,
including laser, particle beam, and kinetic energy weapons; and
improving passive defenses by constructing and maintaining deep
underground bunkers and blast shelters for key personnel and enhancing
the survivability of some offensive systems through mobility and
Since the beginning of the nuclear age, the Soviets have
placed great importance on limiting the amount of damage the USSR would
suffer to key targets in a global war. They have organized and
structured their strategic defense forces accordingly. For example, the
National Air Defense Forces, which include missile and space defense,
became an independent service in the late 1950s and have generally
ranked third in prominence within the military, following the Strategic
Rocket Forces and the Ground Forces. During the 1960s, the Soviets
established the strategic defense missions for ASAT operations and ABM
Soviet strategic defense forces play a role equal to that of offensive
forces. In the event of war, nuclear or conventional, Soviet offensive
forces are to:
- destroy or neutralize as much of the enemy's air and nuclear assets as possible on the ground or at sea before they are
- destroy or disrupt enemy air and nuclear associated command, control, and communications.
Soviet defensive efforts, designed to enhance the credibility of offensive forces, are to:
- intercept and destroy surviving retaliatory weapons aircraft and missiles before they reach their targets; and
- protect the Party, state, military forces, industrial
infrastructure, and essential working population with active and
passive defense measures.
As in a conventional conflict, if a war escalates to the use
of strategic nuclear weapons, Soviet military doctrine calls for their
forces to seize the initiative. Passive and active defensive systems
would try to negate much of the US and allied capability for
retaliation. The Soviet military holds defense from nuclear attack as a
key, integrated component of their military strategy. From this Soviet
perspective, any measures the West would take to defend itself are seen
as potentially denying the achievement of key objectives within Soviet
war-fighting strategy. For these reasons, the Soviets strenuously
oppose the US Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). At the same time,
with consistency and vigor, the Soviets maintain their balanced
offensive-defensive strategy in order to fulfill their strategic
Ballistic Missile Defense
Since 1978, the Soviets have been expanding and modernizing the ABM
defenses at Moscow. The single-layer system includes 16 (originally 64)
reloadable above-ground GALOSH launchers and the DOG HOUSE and CAT
HOUSE battle management radars south of Moscow. The four firing
complexes consist of TRY ADD tracking and guidance radars and four
exoatmospheric interceptors (nuclear-armed, ground-based missiles
designed to intercept reentry vehicles in space shortly before they
reenter the Earth's atmosphere).
new Moscow ABM system will be a two layer defense composed of
silo-based, long-range, modified GALOSH interceptors; silo-based,
probably nuclear-armed GAZELLE high-acceleration endoatmospheric
interceptors (designed to engage reentry vehicles within the
atmosphere); and associated engagement, guidance, and battle management
radar systems, including the new PILL BOX large, four sided,
phased-array radar at Pushkino north of Moscow. This modernization will
bring Moscow's ABM defenses up to 100 operational ABM launchers, the
limit permitted by the 1972 ABM Treaty. The new system could become
fully operational in the late 1980s.
The current Soviet ICBM launch-detection satellite network can provide
as much as 30 minutes' tactical warning and can determine the general
origin of the missile. Additionally, two over-the-horizon radars that
are directed at US ICBM fields could give about 30 minutes warning.
next layer of ballistic missile detection consists of 11 large HEN
HOUSE ballistic missile early warning radars at 6 locations on the
periphery of the USSR. These radars can confirm the warning from the
satellite and over the-horizon radar systems, characterize the size of
an attack, and provide target-tracking data in support of antiballistic
missile forces. The Soviets have improved the capabilities of the HEN
HOUSE radars since the signing of the ABM Treaty.
Although the Soviet Union continues to maintain and upgrade its older
network of ballistic missile detection and tracking systems, including
launch-detection satellites andover-the-horizon radars, it is deploying
a new series of LPARs.
The addition of three radars in the western USSR will form almost a
complete circle of LPAR coverage around the USSR. These radars provide
significantly improved target-tracking and -handling capabilities and
add a redundancy in coverage over the existing HEN HOUSE network. In
conjunction with the HEN HOUSE radars, the LPAR near Krasnoyarsk in
Siberia, when fully operational, will close the final gap in the Soviet
ballistic missile early warning radar coverage. The entire network
could become fully operational in the mid-199Os.
US and USSR, in signing the ABM Treaty, recognized the need for
ballistic missile early warning radars while seeking to prevent their
use for a nationwide antiballistic missile system. The ABM Treaty
restricts the placement of ballistic missile early warning radars to
the periphery of national territory and oriented outward. In that way,
the desirable and legitimate goal of early warning could be advanced
while minimizing the danger that the radar's target-tracking and
impact-prediction capabilities could be used for effective nationwide
ABM battle management.
The Krasnoyarsk radar, essentially identical to the other large
phased-array radars that the Soviets have acknowledged to be for
ballistic missile detection and tracking, violates the 1972 ABM Treaty.
The radar is not located on the periphery of the USSR and pointed
outward, as required for early warning radars. It is some 750
kilometers from the nearest border Mongolia and it is oriented not
toward that border, but across approximately 4,000 kilometers of Soviet
territory to the northeast.
The Soviet Union claims that the Krasnoyarsk radar is designed for
space tracking rather than for ballistic missile early warning, and
therefore does not violate the ABM Treaty. Its design and orientation
make clear that this radar is intended for ballistic missile detection
and target tracking in the LPAR network.
growing network of large phased-array radars, of which the Krasnoyarsk
radar is apart, is of particular concern when linked with other Soviet
ABM efforts. These radars take years to construct and their existence
could allow the Soviet Union to move quickly to deploy a nationwide ABM
defense. The degree of redundancy being built into their LPAR network
is not necessary for early warning. It is highly desirable, however,
for ballistic missile defense.
During the 1970s, the Soviets developed components that could be
integrated into an ABM system that would allow them to construct
individual ABM sites in months rather than the years required for more
traditional ABM systems. The development and testing of the components
represent a potential violation of the ABM Treaty's prohibition against
the development of a mobile land-based ABM system or components. By
using such components along with the LPARs, the Soviets could
strengthen the defenses of Moscow and defend targets in the western
USSR and east of the Urals.
The Soviet Union has conducted tests that have involved air
defense radars in ABM related activities. The large number, and
consistency over time, of incidents of concurrent operation of ABM and
SAM components plus Soviet failure to accommodate fully US concerns,
indicate the USSR probably has violated the Treaty's prohibition on
testing SAM components in an ABM mode. Additionally, the SA-10 and
SA-X-12B/GIANT systems may have the potential to intercept some types
of strategic ballistic missiles. Both systems are expected to have
widespread deployment. The technical capabilities of these systems
highlight the problem that improving technology is blurring the
distinction between air defense and ABM systems. This problem will be
further complicated as newer, more complex air defense missile systems
Taken together, all of their ABM and ABM related activities
indicate a significant commitment to enhancing the strategic defenses
of the USSR and suggest that the Soviets may be preparing an ABM
defense of their nation.
Advanced ABM Technologies
In the late 1960s, the USSR
initiated a substantial research program into advanced technologies
applicable to ballistic missile defense systems. This effort covers
many of the same technologies currently being explored for the US SDI
but involves a much greater investment of plant space, capital, and
manpower. The USSR will undoubtedly increase its efforts to acquire
Western technologies associated with space and the SDI program.
The USSR's laser program is considerably larger than US efforts and
involves over 10,000 scientists and engineers as well as more than a
half-dozen major research and development facilities and test ranges.
Much of this research takes place at the Sary-Shagan Missile Test
Center, where ABM testing also is conducted. At Sary-Shagan alone, the
Soviets are estimated to have several lasers for air defense and two
lasers probably capable of damaging some components of satellites in
orbit, one of which could be used in feasibility testing for ballistic
missile defense applications. The Soviet laser weapons program would
cost roughly $1 billion a year in the US.
Scientists in the USSR have been exploring three types of lasers that
may prove useful for weapons applications the gas-dynamic, the electric
discharge, and the chemical. They have achieved impressive output power
levels with these lasers. The Soviets are possibly exploring the
potential of visible and very-short-wave-length lasers. They are
investigating the excimer, free-electron, and x-ray lasers, and they
have been developing argonion lasers.
The Soviets appear generally capable of supplying the prime
power, energy storage, and auxiliary components for their laser and
other directed-energy weapons programs. They have probably been
developing optical systems necessary for laser weapons to track and
attack their targets. They produced a 1.2-meter segmented mirror for an
astrophysical telescope in 1978 and claimed that this reflector was a
prototype for a 25-meter mirror. A large mirror is considered necessary
for a long-range space-based laser weapon system.
The USSR has progressed in some cases beyond technology
research. It has ground-based lasers that have some capability to
attack US satellites and could have a prototype space based
antisatellite laser weapon by the end of the decade. Additionally, the
Soviets could have prototypes for ground-based lasers for defense
against ballistic missiles by the late 1980s and could begin testing
components for a large scale deployment system in the early 1990s.
The remaining difficulties in fielding an operational laser
system will require more development time. An operational ground-based
laser for defense against ballistic missiles probably could not be
deployed until the late l990s or after the year 2000. If technological
developments prove successful, the Soviets might be able to deploy a
space-based laser system for defense against ballistic missiles after
the year 2000. The Soviets' efforts to develop high energy air defense
laser weapons are likely to lead to ground-based deployments in the
early l990s and to naval deployments in the early 1990s and to naval
deployments in the mid-1990s.
Particle Beam Weapons
Since the late 1960s, the Soviets have been exploring the
feasibility of using particle beams for a space-based weapon system.
They maybe able to test a prototype space-based particle beam weapon
intended to disrupt the electronics of satellites in the l990s. An
operational system designed to destroy satellites could follow later,
and application of a particle beam weapon capable of destroying missile
boosters or warheads would require several additional years of research
Soviet efforts in particle beams, particularly ion sources and
radio-frequency accelerators for particle beams, are impressive. In
fact, much of the US understanding of how particle beams could be made
into practical weapons is based on Published Soviet research conducted
in the late 1960s and 1970s.
The USSR has conducted research in the use of strong radio-frequency
(high-power microwave) signals that have the potential to interfere
with or destroy critical electronic components of ballistic missile
warheads or satellites. The Soviets could test a ground-based
radio-frequency weapon capable of damaging satellites in the 1990s.
The Soviets also have research programs underway on kinetic energy
weapons, which use the high-speed collision of a small object with the
target as the kill mechanism. In the 1960s, the USSR developed an
experimental "gun" that could shoot streams of particles of a heavy
metal, such as tungsten or molybdenum, at speeds of nearly 25
kilometers per second in air and more than 60 kilometers per second in
Long-range, space-based kinetic energy weapons for defense
against ballistic missiles probably could not be developed until at
least the mid-199Os. However, the Soviets could deploy in the near term
a short-range, space based system for space station defense or for
close-in attack by a maneuvering satellite. Current Soviet guidance and
control systems are probably adequate for effective kinetic energy
weapons use against some objects in space,
Computer and Sensor Technology
Advanced technology weapons programs including potential advanced
defenses against ballistic missiles and ASATs are dependent on remote
sensor and computer technologies, areas in which the West currently
leads the Soviet Union. The Soviets are devoting considerable resources
to acquiring Western know-how and to improving their abilities and
expertise in these technologies. An important part of that effort
involves the increasing exploitation of open and clandestine access to
Western technology. For example, the Soviets operate a well-funded
program through third parties for the illegal purchase of US
high-technology computers, test and calibration equipment, and sensors.
A key element of Soviet military doctrine calls for passive and
active defense to act together to ensure wartime operations and
survival. The Soviets have undertaken a major program to harden
military assets to make them more resistant to attack. Included in this
program are their ICBM silos, launch facilities, and some
The Soviets provide their Party and government leaders with
hardened alternate command posts located well away from urban centers
in addition to many deep underground bunkers and blast shelters in
Soviet cities. This comprehensive and redundant network, patterned
after a network designed for the Soviet Armed Forces, provides more
than 1,500 hardened alternate facilities for more than 175,000 key
Party and government personnel throughout the USSR. In contrast, the US
passive defense effort is far smaller and more limited. It is in no way
comparable to the comprehensive Soviet program.
Elaborate plans also have been made for the full mobilization
of the national economy in support of a war effort. Reserves of vital
materiel are maintained, many in hardened underground structures.
Redundant industrial facilities are in active production. Industrial
and other economic facilities are equipped with blast shelters for the
work force, and detailed procedures have been developed for the
relocation of selected production facilities. By planning for the
survival of the essential workforce, the Soviets hope to reconstitute
vital production programs using those industrial components that could
be redirected or salvaged after an attack.
Additionally, the USSR has greatly emphasized mobility as a
means of enhancing the survivability of military assets. The SS-20 and
SS-25 missiles, for example, are mobile. The deployment of the
rail-mobile SS-X-24 is expected soon. The Soviets are also developing
an extensive network of mobile command, control,and communications
The Soviets continue to field the world's only operational ASAT system.
It is launched into an orbit similar to that of the target satellite
and, when it gets close enough, destroys the satellite by exploding a
conventional warhead. The Soviet co-orbital antisatellite interceptor
is reasonably capable of performing its missions, and thus it is a
distinct threat to US low-altitude satellites.
Other Soviet systems have ASAT capabilities. The nuclear-armed GALOSH
ABM interceptor deployed around Moscow has an inherent ASAT capability
against low altitude satellites. The Sary-Shagan lasers maybe capable
of damaging sensitive components onboard satellites. Although weather
and atmospheric beam dispersion may limit the use of ground-based laser
ASATs, such systems would quite likely have the major advantage of
being able to refire and therefore to disable several targets.
During the next 10 years, the Soviets are likely to retain their
current ASAT-capable systems while moving aggressively ahead in
developing and deploying new ASAT systems. Their large-scale ballistic
missile defense research and development efforts in laser, particle
beam, radio-frequency, and kinetic energy technologies may also soon
provide them with significant ASAT capabilities.
The development of a space-based laser ASAT that can disable
several satellites is probably a high-priority Soviet objective. The
Soviets may deploy space-based lasers for antisatellite purposes in the
1990s, if their technological developments prove successful.
Space-based laser ASATs could be launched on demand, or maintained in
orbit, or both. By storing a laser ASAT in orbit, the Soviets could
reduce the time required to attack a target. This option would decrease
the warning time available to the target needed to attempt
countermeasures. The Soviets are also developing an airborne laser
whose missions could include ASAT, and limited deployment could begin
in the early 1990s.
The Soviets operate about 50 types of space systems for military and
civilian uses. These systems include manned and man-associated
spacecraft; space stations; reconnaissance vehicles; launch-detection
satellites; and navigational, meteorological, and communications
The USSR conducts approximately 100 space launches annually.
Some launches have put as many as eight satellites in orbit from one
launch vehicle. The number of active, usable satellites the Soviets
maintain in orbit has increased from about 120 in 1982 to about 150 in
1986. At least 90 percent of the launches and satellites are military
related and support both offensive and defensive operations. The USSR
tries to mask the true nature of most of its space missions by
declaring them as scientific. Because the 1967 Outer Space Treaty
requires nations to register space launches with an agency of the
United Nations, the Soviets acknowledge most of their space launch
activity. Few details, however, are provided. The results and data of
these missions are rarely published or disclosed except for some
aspects of the manned program. Throughout, the Soviets steadfastly
maintain they have no military space program.
The military emphasis is expected to continue in the years
ahead. Of the approximately 200 operational Soviet satellites projected
to be in orbit by the mid-199Os, about 150 will most likely have purely
military missions, such as ocean reconnaissance, electronic
intelligence, imagery reconnaissance, and special communications.
Another 40 could support joint military-civilian functions, such as
providing communications, navigation, and weather data. The manned
program will fulfill both military and civilian missions. The
approximately 10 remaining satellites could include interplanetary
probes and other scientific missions.
The lifetimes and survivability of Soviet satellites are
expected to increase in the next 10 years because of the incorporation
of more sophisticated technology and the placement of satellites at
higher altitudes. These moves would increase the satellites' fields of
view and would make them less vulnerable to an ASAT attack.
Military Support From Space
Under cover of their COSMOS designator, the Soviets continue to
develop and deploy space systems designed to support military
operations on Earth. They now operate several types of space-based
reconnaissance systems. Two of these, the radar ocean reconnaissance
satellite and the electronic-intelligence ocean reconnaissance
satellite, are used to locate naval forces that could be targeted for
destruction by antiship weapons launched from Soviet platforms. The US
has no comparable capability. Moreover, the Soviets actively practice
their detection and targeting techniques, routinely launching these
satellites to monitor both Soviet and NATO naval exercises.
The Soviets continue to expand an already mature satellite
reconnaissance program. Several enhancements, such as incorporation of
a data-relay satellite system, could improve the timeliness of their
satellite reconnaissance data. Demonstrations of flexibility and
versatility in launching and deploying their surveillance systems have
continued, and the Soviets are capable of redirecting them for
worldwide missions as situations dictate. Meanwhile, the satellite
imagery reconnaissance capability has been refined, and space-based
electronic intelligence assets are being upgraded.
Deployment continues of the Soviet space based global
navigation satellite system known as GLONASS. This system will probably
be capable of providing highly accurate positioning data to Soviet
military and civilian users by the end of this decade. GLONASS is the
Soviet version of the US NAVSTAR global positioning system (GPS). In
fact, the Soviets acquired data on digital signal processing from GPS
documents for inclusion in GLONASS. The GLONASS is being placed in a
GPS-like orbit. Based on the 9 to 12 satellites announced for the
system, GLONASS would have a worldwide, two-dimensional capability. If
the Soviets want GLONASS to provide worldwide, three dimensional
navigation updates, they would need to orbit 18 to 24 satellites.
The Soviets are increasing the number and variety of their
communications satellites. They have filed their intent with the
International Frequency Registration Board to place almost 100
individual communication payloads in more than 25 positions in the
geostationary orbit belt. Some of the satellites are expected to be
used to relay data between two ground sites, including ships, or
between a satellite and ground sites. The Soviets demonstrated this
capability by using a data-relay satellite to transmit television
reports from the MIR(Peace) space station to the ground. By using such
satellites, the Soviets would be able to communicate between ships,
other satellites, and ground stations that are not within line of sight
of each other. This technique increases the timeliness of these
The Soviets will continue deploying their current
launch-detection satellite network. They are probably working on a
system for space-based detection of US submarine launched ballistic
missiles (SLBMs), as well as European and Chinese missile launches.
Although the USSR's land-based ballistic missile defense radar network
permits detection of SLBM launches, a space-based geosynchronous
launch-detection satellite system could significantly increase warning
time. The Soviets probably have the technical capability to deploy an
operational satellite system by the end of the decade.
New Space Launch Systems
The success of the Soviet space program is due largely to its versatile
and reliable inventory of space launch vehicles (SLVs) and to its space
launch and support facilities. About every third day, the Soviets
launch a satellite, using one of eight types of operational SLVs. The
USSR's impressive ability to launch various boosters and to orbit
payloads quickly would give the Soviets a distinct operational military
advantage in any crisis. Most malfunctioning satellites could be
rapidly replaced, and additional satellites could be launched to cover
new or expanding crisis areas. Nonetheless, the use of vehicles and
satellites in surge launches could have a negative short-term effect by
reducing rapidly their total number of available launchers and
satellites. The Soviets are already expanding their extensive family of
SLVs with new expendable launch vehicles and reusable manned
spacecraft. The expected deployment of the medium-lift Titan IIIC-Class
SL-X-16, the heavy-lift Saturn V-Class SL-W, a shuttle orbiter, and a
space plane will increase the number and payload weight of satellites
the Soviets will be capable of orbiting.
The SL-W heavy-lift vehicle will be used to launch the Soviet space
shuttle orbiter. Launch pad compatibility testing of an orbiter
attached to the SL-W vehicle may already have taken place, and a launch
could come in 1987 or 1988. Soviet orbiter development has been heavily
dependent on US orbiter propulsion, computer, materials, and airframe
design technology. By using US technology and designs, the Soviets were
able to produce an orbiter years earlier, and at far less cost, than if
they had depended solely on their own technology. Money and scientific
expertise could thus be diverted to other areas.
The location of the main engines at the base of the SL-W rather than on
the orbiter gives the SL-W added versatility as a heavy-lift vehicle
because it can launch heavy payloads other than the orbiter. The SL-W
will be able to place payloads of over 100,000 kilograms into low Earth
orbit, a figure comparable to the discontinued Saturn V. Potential
payloads include modules for a large space station, components for a
manned or unmanned interplanetary mission, and perhaps directed-energy
ASAT antiballistic missile defense weapons.
The SL-X-16 booster is capable of placing a payload of more than 15,000
kilograms into low Earth orbit. This capability fills a gap in the
current SLV inventory for an economical means of launching
medium-weight payloads. A payload candidate for the SL-X-16 is the
space plane, a different program than the space shuttle. A subscale
version of this vehicle has been flight-tested in orbit and a
full-scale version could be in production. This small, manned
spacecraft could be used for quick-reaction, real-time reconnaissance
missions, satellite repairs and maintenance, crew transport, space
station defense, satellite inspection and, if necessary, negation. The
SL X-16 has been flight-tested, placing at least three payloads into
orbit, and will soon be fully operational. The Soviets are not expected
to launch the space plane until they have had sufficient experience
with the SL-X-16. Testing of a full-scale space plane could begin in
the late 1980s.
When these two systems become operational, the Soviets will have 10
types of expendable launch vehicles, 4 of which will be man associated,
and 3 different manned space vehicles - SOYUZ-TM (an improved SOYUZ-T
crew ferry vehicle), the shuttle, and the space plane. The combination
of these systems will give the Soviets even greater versatility and
redundancy to conduct and to augment military operations in space.
Despite a minor setback in
late 1985, the Soviets made considerable progress toward achieving a
permanent, militarily significant, manned presence in near-Earth orbit
during 1986. Although forced to curtail a manned mission on their
SALYUT-7/COSMOS-1686 space station complex in November 1985 when one of
their cosmonauts became ill, the Soviets still launched the core
vehicle of a modular space station in February 1986. MIR, as designated
by the Soviets, is an impressive advancement over SALYUT-7, having
enhanced solar energy and electrical power systems, greater computer
capabilities, and individual "cabins"
for crew members. Most significant, while SALYUT-7 had only two docking
ports, MIR has six - one rear axial docking port, one forward axial
port, and four forward lateral ports.
MIR core vehicle is essentially a habitation and flight control center.
Most of the cosmonauts' military and scientific work will take place in
specially outfitted space station modules. These modules will provide
the Soviets with greater flexibility in performing missions such as
reconnaissance, targeting, and military-related R&D, as well as
research in fields such as astrophysics, biology, and materials
With the launch of MIR, the space station module, and SOYUZ-TM,
the Soviets are well on their way to fulfilling their goal of
establishing a permanent manned presence in space. The modular space
station will probably house 3 to 12 cosmonauts. In the early-to-mid
1990s, the Soviets should be able to construct
a very large modular space station. They have discussed ultimately
housing up to 100 cosmonauts in this large space complex.
March 1986, SOYUZ T-15 carried the first crew to MIR - mission
commander Colonel Leonid Kizim and civilian flight engineer Vladimir
Solovyov. These cosmonauts were in orbit for only 125 days, a short
mission by Soviet standards, and they returned to Earth in July.
Nonetheless, it was the most widely publicized Soviet manned space
flight in 1986. Key events were often announced in advance and some
events were televised live. These unprecedented developments were, in
part, an effort to publicize Soviet accomplishments.
The mission was significant in an operational sense, however,
because Kizim and Solovyov conducted the first manning and checkout of
MIR, the initial use of a data-relay satellite to communicate with
them, and the first station-to-station crew transfers. In early may,
Kizim and Solovyov departed MIR aboard SOYUZ T-15 and docked with the
SALYUT-7/COSMOS-1686 complex. After conducting numerous experiments and
two sessions of extravehicular activity, the cosmonauts returned to MIR
in late June and to Earth in mid-July.
In other significant developments, the USSR announced that
international crew visits to the MIR complex will start in the fall of
1987, beginning with a Syrian cosmonaut. A Frenchman and a Bulgarian
are scheduled to visit MIR on separate flights during 1988, and the
Soviets are evidently discussing similar missions with other countries.
At least one such mission a year can be expected during MIR's lifetime.
Soviet manned space program occupies a unique position in the USSR's
space efforts. It is heavily publicized to demonstrate the peaceful
nature and technological superiority of the USSR's space efforts.
Visits to the Soviet space station by foreign cosmonauts and the long
missions by Soviet cosmonauts have been reported with great fanfare in
the nation's news media. Nonetheless, the Soviets have made a strong
commitment to using the manned space program to accelerate their drive
to achieve space superiority.
Soviet literature reports that the military
applications of remote sensing, oceanography, meteorology, and geodesy
have been the focus of repeated cosmonaut investigations. Even subjects
such as astronomical observations also performed by cosmonauts, have
military uses. Such investigations, for example, can provide data
useful for maintaining the orientation of certain equipment to an
accuracy of a few arc-seconds, a capability needed to aim
The ability to rendezvous and manually dock with uncooperative
spacecraft, which Soviet cosmonauts demonstrated in 1985 and 1986 also
has military applications. Cosmonauts use a laser rangefinder, a night
vision device, and an optical sight while performing this operation.
The Soviets state that this procedure will allow the rescue of
cosmonauts stranded in orbit, but it could also be useful for repairing
friendly satellites and for inspecting and disabling enemy satellites.
Conducting materials-processing experiments is an important
cosmonaut function that has both civilian and military applications.
Soviet efforts in this field, however, have concentrated on the
production of substances with militarily significant applications
regarding the development of semiconductor devices, infrared and
optical detectors, and electro-optical systems.
Another crucial cosmonaut activity is Earth observation, which
has implications for reconnaissance and targeting applications. The
Soviets report that their cosmonauts have used visual observations,
cameras, radars, spectrometers, and multispectral electro-optical
sensors in their observations from SALYUT space stations. These
experiments suggest the Soviets are evaluating their ability to locate,
identify, and track targets from outer space as the first step toward
designing a space weapons platform for use against targets in space and
on Earth. Such a platform may eventually be used for ASAT and ballistic
missile defense and operations as well as for space station defense.
The most ambitious space goal the Soviets have set is a
cosmonaut mission to Mars. To undertake such a mission, the Soviets
would need to lift very heavy components into low Earth orbit and to
assemble them there. The SL-W will give them that capability. They
would have to sustain cosmonauts in orbit for at least a year. A manned
mission to Mars is a major reason for the long stays Soviet cosmonauts
have undertaken on SALYUT stations. The cost of such a mission would be
tremendous, but the Soviets would most likely expend the funds.
Although very challenging, the Soviets could launch a manned mission to
Mars in the first decade of the 21st century and probably could conduct
a non-stop fly-by mission to Mars before the end of this century.
Space Program Costs
The high priority the Soviets are giving to their space program is
reflected in the rapid overall growth of the program - a program that
is absorbing a large share of the nation's most advanced and productive
technology. Since 1980, the estimated dollar costs of the Soviet space
effort have more than doubled, owing largely to programs for the manned
space stations, new launch vehicles, supporting facilities, and the
shuttle orbiter. The projected rate of growth in the space program,
driven by the ambitious space-based manned program and future
communications satellites, is expected to outpace overall trends in
both military spending and GNP well into the future.
USSR continues to modernize and expand what is already the most
extensive strategic air defense network in the world. The
mission is to be carried out by a strong pre-positioned national air
defense force established in peacetime according to a unified concept
and plan. The leadership appears to be in constant search for the
optimum organizational structure of the air defense assets.
Major organizational changes instituted in 1980 transferred
control of air defense aircraft, SAMs, and radars from national air
defense authorities to local military district commanders. This change
was probably implemented to provide battlefield commanders with greater
flexibility. Even after reorganizing, the Soviets appeared to be
dissatisfied with their air defense structure.
More recent shifts are apparently resubordinating
surface-to-air missiles and aircraft back to the national air defense
forces. The rationale may involve a desire for greater centralized
control over weapons rather than the flexibility of the local commander
in making certain decisions.
Soviets have deployed a large number of strategic air defense systems
with capabilities against aircraft flying at medium and high altitudes.
They are now in the midst of a major effort to improve their
capabilities against aircraft and cruise missiles that operate at low
This effort includes upgrading their early warning and
surveillance systems; deployment of more efficient data-transmission
systems; as well as development and initial deployment of new aircraft,
associated air-to-air missiles, SAMs, and airborne warning and control
system (AWACS) aircraft.
Currently, the Soviets have more than 9,000 strategic SAM
launchers, nearly 5,000 tactical SAM launchers (excluding handheld),
and some 10,000 air defense radars. Approximately 2,250 air defense
forces interceptor aircraft are dedicated to strategic defense. An
additional 2,100 interceptors assigned to Soviet air Forces could be
drawn upon for strategic defense missions. Collectively, these assets
present a formidable defense barrier.
most capable Soviet air defense interceptor aircraft, the FOXHOUND, has
a look-down/shoot-down and multiple-target engagement capability. Over
150 FOXHOUNDs are now operationally deployed at several locations from
the Arkhangelsk area in the northwestern USSR to the Soviet Far East.
Thus far, the FOXHOUND has been dedicated to homeland air defense. Two
new fighters, the FLANKER and the FULCRUM, also have
look-down/shoot-down capabilities and are designed to be highly
maneuverable in air-to-air combat. The Soviets have deployed
approximatively 300 FULCRUMs to operational regiments in theater forces
and are expected to introduce this aircraft into the homeland defense
interceptor role in the future. They also have begun deploying the
longer range FLANKER, both to strategic aviation and into air defense
interceptor units in the USSR.
These three aircraft are equipped with three new air-to-air
missiles. The FOXHOUND carries the long-range AA-9, and the FULCRUM and
the FLANKER carry the medium-range AA-10 and the short-range AA-11. All
can be used against low-flying targets.
The USSR also is deploying the MAINSTAY AWACS aircraft, which
will substantially improve Soviet capabilities for airborne early
warning and air battle management, especially against low-flying
aircraft. The MIDAS, a tanker variant of the CANDID, is being
introduced into the Soviet aircraft inventory and will be used in
support of the strategic bombers and various air defense elements,
including the new MAINSTAY.
The Soviets maintain the world's most extensive
early warning system for air defense. It comprises a network of
ground-based radars linked operationally with those of their Pact
allies. As previously noted, more than 10,000 air surveillance radars
provide virtually complete coverage at medium-to-high altitudes over
the USSR and, in some areas, well beyond its borders. Three operational
over-the-horizon radars for ballistic missile detection could provide
additional long-range warning of the approach of high-flying aircraft.
A new over-the-horizon radar under construction in the Far East will
provide long-range detection of aircraft from the Pacific Ocean.
The USSR also has an active research and development program designed
to improve its air surveillance network. In 1983, the Soviets began to
deploy two types of air surveillance radars that will enhance Soviet
capabilities for air defense, electronic warfare, and early warning of
cruise missile and bomber attacks. The Soviet's are also continuing to
deploy improved air surveillance data systems that can rapidly pass
data from outlying radars through the air surveillance network to
ground-controlled intercept sites and SAM command posts.
strategic surface-to-air missiles provide low-to-high altitude barrier,
area, and terminal defenses under all weather conditions. Five systems
are now operational: the SA-1, SA-2, and SA-3, and the more capable
SA-5 and SA-10. Over the years, the Soviets have continued to deploy
the long-range SA-5 and have repeatedly modified this system. Further
deployments and upgrades are probable in order to enhance the SA-5's
capability to work with the newer SA-10. The even more capable
all-altitude SA-X-12B/GIANT will soon become operational, thus further
enhancing soviet strategic defenses.
The SA-10 offers significant advantages over older strategic
surface-to-air missile systems, including multitarget handling and
engagement characteristics, a capability against low
altitude targets with small radar cross-sections such as cruise
missiles, a capability against tactical ballistic missiles, and
possibly a potential to intercept some types of strategic ballistic
The first SA-10 site became operational in 1980. Over 80 sites
are now operational and work is progressing on at least another 20
sites. Nearly half of these sites are located near Moscow. This
emphasis on Moscow as well as the deployment patterns noted for the
other SA-10 sites suggest a first priority on terminal defense of
command-and-control, military, and key industrial complexes.
keeping with their drive toward mobility as a means of weapons
survival, the Soviets have deployed a number of mobile SA-10 systems.
This version, designated SA-10b, could be used to support Soviet
theater forces and to permit periodic changes in the location
of SA-10 sites within the USSR to counter the various kinds of US
retaliatory forces more effectively.
The Soviets also have begun deploying another important
mobile SAM system, the tactical SA-12A/GLADIATOR, and are
flight-testing an even more capable, longer range, higher altitude
complement, the SA-X-12B/GIANT. The SA-12 missile system is capable of
intercepting aircraft at all altitudes as well as cruise missiles and
tactical ballistic missiles.
As previously noted, the SA-X-12B may have the potential to
intercept some types of strategic ballistic missiles. This SA-X-12B
capability is a serious development because this system is expected to
be deployed widely throughout the USSR. It could, if properly
supported, add a measure of point-target defense coverage for a
nationwide ABM deployment.