US Space Command has condemned a Russian direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile test conducted on April 15. The test is the latest in a string of hostile operations Russia has conducted in low Earth orbit in recent months.
In an April 15 press release, US Space Command confirmed it was aware and tracking Russia’s DA-ASAT test. There are currently no details regarding the specifics of the test. However, it is believed to be the latest test of Russia’s A-235 anti-ballistic missile system.
According to Brian Weeden, director of program planning for the Secure World Foundation, the system is yet to hit a target and the April 15 test appears to not have been an attempt to actually destroy something.
“This is about the 10th attempt to test the system as far as we can tell, and so far, none of them appear to have been attempts to actually destroy something,” said Weeden.
Despite this, the head of US Space Command General John Raymond condemned the test and reiterated that the US was and is prepared to defend itself.
“Russia’s DA-ASAT test provides yet another example that the threats to U.S. and allied space systems are real, serious and growing,” said General Raymond. “The United States is ready and committed to deterring aggression and defending the Nation, our allies and U.S. interests from hostile acts in space.”
The stance of US Space Command is not a new one. Russian forces have conducted several hostile operations in low Earth orbit this year alone.
In late 2019, Russia launched a classified military satellite dubbed Cosmos-2542. Observervers had originally concluded that it was a Russian spy satellite. However, in February this year, a sub-satellite was ejected from Cosmos-2542 and began to “chase down” USA 245, a classified National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite.
The DA-ASAT and Cosmos-2542 incidents constitute what US Space Command considers a concerning trend.
“This test is further proof of Russia’s hypocritical advocacy of outer space arms control proposals designed to restrict the capabilities of the United States while clearly having no intention of halting their counterspace weapons programs,” said General Raymond.