With Russia’s long and storied history of misinformation and recent efforts to secure foreign buyers for military hardware, it can be hard to trust any news pertaining to Russian defense initiatives that find their way to the press. By and large, Moscow’s massive state-owned media empire, which includes outlets commonly frequented by Americans like Sputnik, RT, and Tass, as well as countless “independent” news outlets (both real and imagined) the world over, allows Russia to frame news regarding new military technology exactly as it wants.
It’s precisely because of Russia’s meticulously-planned marketing efforts disguised as news, however, that stories about Russian tech derived from other sources are often to illuminating. Russia may place a large emphasis on headline-grabbing initiatives that are heavy on theater and light on substance, but the nation does still maintain the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons on the planet, a formidable submarine fleet, and a leader that has demonstrated a tenacity for assuming the role of antagonist to the West in international dealings. While Russia may not represent the formidable military power it did during the Cold War, it remains a player on the world stage thanks to a combination of remembered prominence, strategic posturing, and occasionally, fielding weapons worthy of taking note.
One such weapon, addressed in the Pentagon’s recent 108-page missile defense review, is the PL-19 Nudol anti-satellite missile. According to U.S. intelligence, the ongoing program conducted another successful test last month, in which the platform flew for some 17 minutes and covered 1,864 miles before splashing down in its designated target area. This was the seventh such test of this platform, which was first devised largely as a ballistic missile interceptor and has slowly matured into both a missile defense and anti-satellite system.
Per the report, the PL-19 is just one of a number of ongoing anti-satellite initiatives being funded by the Kremlin, no doubt spurred by America’s prominent use of satellites in nearly every facet of modern warfare.