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Weapons 09/01/20 System “Outfit”: how the Soviet Union has created protection against impact from outer space

After the launch of the first orbital ships mankind quickly realized the military potential of outer space, developing both offensive and defensive weaponry that could be used in space. The USSR focused on the creation of systems capable of defending its territory against threats from earth orbit.

Bits for space

First in space has penetrated the U.S. military, having made several experimental explosions in the thermosphere. The most ambitious was made on 9 July 1962, when at an altitude of about 400 km, a bomb exploded with a capacity of 1.4 megatons. The blast was so strong that it felt the people of Hawaii on the Islands that were little more than a thousand kilometers from the epicenter, street lights went out, refused to work the phones and radio. Creating a powerful radiation blast disabled seven satellites – a third of which functioned at that time in Earth orbit.

Fearing the uncontrolled use of near-earth space January 27, 1967, USA, USSR and Britain signed the “Treaty on outer space”, which determined the scope of international space law. Among its provisions was a ban on testing and deployment of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction in Earth orbit, the moon or any other celestial body. The Treaty was ratified by over 100 countries. If, however, the agreement prohibited the use in space of nuclear weapons, then conventional weapons it is not touched.

In the 1970-ies of the United States and the Soviet Union focused its attention on the establishment of missile and anti-space defense: the main objective of these programmes is the detection and destruction of military objects of the enemy that represents a threat to the terrestrial infrastructure, and for orbital systems. Inflamed the race for supremacy in space.

In the United States at this time had developed anti-satellite missile air-launched ASM-135 ASAT, which was equipped with the F-15. In parallel, the Soviet Union created an anti-satellite strike land-based system of “IP” (“Fighter satellites”) that are in orbit using a two-stage liquid propellant missiles. Since the early 1980s, when Soviet intelligence became aware of the start of the American program “Strategic defense initiative” (SDI), the Soviet Union intensified the development of more advanced systems anti-space defense.

Universal protection

In the late 1970-ies a group of Soviet designers of the “CB fireworks” under the leadership of Dmitry Polukhin (one of the developers of boosters with liquid rocket engine for superheavy bombers and cruise missiles) in the framework of the “multi-purpose space system” began to establish missile and anti-space defense with space-based elements, called “Outfit”. The project was based on earlier developments of team’s outstanding rocket scientists Vladimir Chelomei.

System “Outfit” consisted of four components: a group of reconnaissance satellites for monitoring near-earth space; satellites-attack aircraft, acting as a platform for placing of interceptor missiles; liquid three-stage carrier rockets of mine basing “Roar” on the basis of ballistic missiles UR-100N; interceptor missiles to engage targets in the atmosphere and in space.

the Main task, which was designed to solve the project Polukhina – layered protection for the entire territory of the Soviet Union from the massive, including a nuclear strike from space by using missile interceptors based in silos and satellites-attack aircraft that could hit targets moving in different speeds both in space and in the atmosphere.

working range optimizerit systems of PKO “Outfit” exceeded 40 thousand kilometers from the Earth’s surface: that is, the missiles could hit targets outside of the geostationary orbit that far exceeds the capabilities of anti-satellite strike systems “is”. Potential “Attire” was so that he could protect the entire surface of the Earth not only from threats from the Alliance, but also to protect the planet from falling all sorts of celestial bodies – meteors, meteorites, comets, orbiting stations or any other large comic of garbage.

the Development and implementation of the project “Dress” were long and difficult. Testing of the system was carried out only in the first half of the 1990s there were three launch: from November 1990 to December 1994. The first two were limited to sub-orbital flight of missiles, the third orbit at a height of not more than 1900 kilometers.

the fate of the project

top Soviet leaders met with the “Outfit”, but rather with one of its elements – companion active opposition, during a visit to the cosmodrome “Baikonur” may 11, 1987. Mikhail Gorbachev was interested in the layout of the satellite and decided to get to know him better. The Deputy chief of the cosmodrome “Baikonur”, one of the organizers of the tests and launches of rocket-space technology Anatoly Zavalishin decided to take the opportunity and ask the permission of the Secretary General on the combat training system test “Outfit”, citing the fact that Americans are not just carried out the launches of the ASAT. He promised to Gorbachev that the tests will be carried out in the regime of extreme secrecy and they will be provided with reliable legend.

Mikhail Gorbachev, in response, recommended to test a system not in space, and under the earth, as if hinting that this project should be buried. Zavalishin joined with the first face of the state in the dispute, arguing that despite a warming of relations between the USSR and the USA, we need to have a means of anti-space defense, which, if not superior, then at least not inferior to his efficiency to foreign analogues. However, all his arguments, including references to “Katyusha”, which as an innovative weapon of its time ensured the superiority of the Soviet artillery in the great Patriotic war, have failed. Gorbachev was adamant: he politely but firmly retorted that currently do not engage in the provocation of the Western countries and to discredit the course of the USSR on good neighborly relations.

Later in one of his speeches the Secretary General noted that the rejection of the use of space for military purposes is a sign not of weakness but of strength of our country, as it confirms the peace-loving foreign policy of the USSR. Peaceful space development and openness to international cooperation in this direction, according to Gorbachev, coincided with the interests of America and other countries.

System PKO “Outfit” was part of an ambitious program to create a universal “satellite attack” that can hit any target regardless of their location. Development was conducted in research and production center Khrunichev. However, all initiatives in this direction met with opposition party leadership. Design work on a system of anti-space defense did not stop until the mid-1990s until it was closed by the decree of President Boris Yeltsin along with the program “Energy – Buran”. The country was in a protracted crisis, could not afford such expensive projects. Russia is now focused on international, of a purely peaceful program in space exploration, such as “Mir – Shuttle”.

nevertheless, the draft “Order” has not been forgotten. This name surfaced in 2002 during the visit of Vladimir Putin, center. Khrunichev. According to the results of the presidential visit to the Ministry of defence was requested to clarify the issue of “Outfit”: a perspective of whether this system or not, if Yes, what tools are need for its renewal. In 2009, the Deputy Minister of defence of the Russian Federation Vladimir Popovkin said that Russia is pwill rodolit development of anti-satellite weapons, using, including, and the groundwork of the complex “Outfit”. It is obvious that such work is carried out today with the development of Military space forces, however they are classified.

Taras Repin

© Russian Seven

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