Russia appears to be constructing an anti-satellite laser system at a space facility near Zelenchukskaya in its far southwest, The Space Review reported, citing Google Earth imagery.
The Kalina is designed to blind enemy satellites over Russian territory by permanently damaging their optical sensors with laser pulses, the outlet explained. The system would be an advance over previous laser “dazzler” technology that temporarily blinds optical systems.
Krona Space Complex
The system is part of the Russian Ministry of Defense’s Krona space surveillance complex, consisting of a radar and lidar system.
The lidar measures a satellite’s range by firing a laser beam at it and calculating the time the beam takes to return. The radar provides trajectory data to the lidar telescope, enabling correct location.
The lidar — consisting of a laser attached to a 1.3 meter (4.2 feet) telescope — is also used to illuminate a satellite to enable image capture.
Connected With Lidar By Tunnel
Based on the latest imagery, a new telescope dome appears to have been built at the Krona Space Complex, connecting the nearby lidar building housing Kalina’s two lasers and associated systems by tunnel. The lidar telescope receives the laser beam through the tunnel.
It appears to confirm a 2016 document stating that the Kalina would feature a new telescope to “accurately aim laser beams at satellites,” the outlet wrote.
The Space Review also cited another document where the Kalina is referred to as a “space security complex,” a term also used for the air-launched anti-satellite system Burevestnik.
The outlet said the developer describes Kalina as a “special quantum-optical system” in its 2013 annual report, where it acknowledged its involvement in developing “laser systems for electro-optical warfare.”
Russian Laser Dazzlers
Kalina is one of the three laser dazzlers Russian developers have designed to date, out of which only the Peresvet truck-mounted system is operational.
According to The Space Review, Peresvet is deployed alongside mobile Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles to conceal their movement from enemy reconnaissance satellites.
The status of the airborne laser system Sokol-Eshelon, development of which began in 2001, is unclear.