Google Earth imagery has revealed a possible Russian anti-satellite weapon, targeting optical systems of foreign imaging satellites over Russian territory.
Online publication The Space Review said strong evidence showed that Russia had equipped the Ministry of Defense’s Krona space surveillance complex in the northern Caucasus with a new laser system called Kalina.
Google Earth has shown works at the site since August 2019. In 2020, an image search showed evidence of construction.
In March, Google Earth imagery showed a new telescope dome in the complex, with a tunnel connecting it to the Light Detection And Ranging (lidar) building.
Kalina’s laser and associated system were installed in the lidar building. Google Earth imagery showed that the beams are sent to a telescope through the tunnel.
Documentation obtained by The Space Review showed that Kalina uses at least two lasers.
The Space Review reported that Kalina would complement Peresvet, a mobile laser dazzler operating since late 2019.
Kalina was initiated in 2011, suffering from delays until Google Earth imagery revealed that its construction had been underway.
Russia has developed two other laser systems. In 2001, it started to create an airborne system called Sokol-Eshelon. Peresvet, a truck-mounted laser system, is the only known operational system.
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