RUSSIA’S new weapon dubbed “Star Warrior” has the West worried as it can blast satellites out of orbit at heights of up to 500 miles above Earth.
It comes after Putin used the weapon to destroy a redundant Soviet-era Tselina-D military reconnaissance satellite – blasting it into an orbital debris storm.
Intelligence sources in the West and Russia believe the hunk of space junk was annihilated by the new satellite killer missile system.
The weapon has been dubbed the “Star Warrior” by state Russian media and is the next step in an orbital arms race.
Putin tested the missiles nine times between 2014 and 2020 before it was deployed to destroy an actual satellite on November 15, according to Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategy and Technologies.
State-controlled Russian Channel One TV host Dmitry Kiselyov – dubbed Putin’s “mouthpiece” and “propagandist-in-chief” – has claimed the satellite strike was a deliberate warning to the West not to cross the Kremlin’s red lines on Ukraine.
He boasted in the event of worsening relations, Russia could wipe out 32 GPS satellites crucial for Nato’s military operations, including the pinpointing of missile strikes.
“We shot down the old Soviet Tselina-D satellite in space orbit,” said Kiselyov.
“That was the completion of tests of Russia’s anti-satellite system, the accuracy of which (Defence Minister) Sergei Shoigu called jewellery-like.
“It means that if Nato crosses our red line, it risks losing all 32 of its GPS satellites at once.”
This would “blind all their missiles, planes and ships, not to mention the ground forces.”
The warning comes as relations continue to worsen between Russia and the West amid fears that Putin may be about to invade Ukraine.
Putin’s “Star Warrior” missile system is believed to fire 14TS033 two-stage interceptor missiles which on the final version will be able to be armed with a nuclear or kinetic warhead.
We will continue to clearly and consistently delineate our red lines, which no-one is permitted to cross
The A-235 missile system is both an anti-satellite system, and an anti-ballistic missile system – with its predecessor currently guarding Moscow.
It uses the ominous-looking and pyramid-esque Don-2N radar to detect incoming threats and blast them out the sky – which can also detect threats in space.
The radar – known to Nato as the Pill Box – is currently used by Russia’s A-135 missile defences and will be used with its successor, A-235.
The centrepiece of the radar is a supercomputer called Elbrus-2.
Once threats are detected, the 14TS033 missiles can reportedly accelerate to speeds of up to Mach 12 – some 15,000mph.
And they are believed to be able to hit targets some 500 miles over the Earth, with the ISS orbiting at heights of around 250 miles.
Crew aboard the space station were actually forced to seek shelter during the widely condemned missile test last week.
Russia deputy prime minister Yuri Borisov previously bragged that the Star Warrior weapons system has no counterpart in the West.
It comes as the world enters a chilling new phase of a military driven space race – with Russia, China and the US all experimenting with orbital weapons.
Videos show footage of tests suspected of involving the new technology which last week was launched from Plesetsk military cosmodrome.
One showed a test launch at Sary-Shagan test site in Kazakhstan in April, another in September.
Defence minister Shogun confirmed at the time ”a successful test of a new system – it hit an old satellite with high precision.”
Putin propagandist Kiselyov told his viewers: “Russia does not need conflicts.
“Russia needs guarantees of security, and in order to rule out the possibility of provocations capable of spilling over into a full-scale military confrontation, we will continue to clearly and consistently delineate our red lines, which no-one is permitted to cross.”
Western officials have blasted Russia’s weapons test as “reckless” and warned it risks further militarising space.
NASA administrator Bill Nelson said “I’m outraged by this irresponsible and destabilizing action. With its long and storied history in human spaceflight, it is unthinkable that Russia would endanger not only the American and international partner astronauts on the ISS, but also their own cosmonauts.
“Their actions are reckless and dangerous, threatening as well the Chinese space station and the taikonauts on board.”
UK Defence Secretary Wallace added: “This destructive anti-satellite missile test by Russia shows a complete disregard for the security, safety and sustainability of space.”