MOSCOW — A Soviet general, in the most detailed account of possible countermeasures to the so-called U.S. "Star Wars" defense, today called orbiting space stations the proposed anti-missile system's most vulnerable link.
The "Star Wars" defense, officially known as the Strategic Defense Initiative, is being developed as a means of destroying enemy missiles before they can reach the United States.
But Maj. Gen. Ivan Anureyev, in an article in the journal Energy, outlined a number of potential--and inexpensive--countermeasures to the proposed U.S. defense system.
"General Anureyev described destruction of SDI components such as orbiting battle stations and space-based battle management systems as the most effective way of weakening the entire missile defense dramatically," Tass press agency said in a summary of his article.
Efficient, Cheap Retaliation
"An analysis of the package of possible measures to foil an SDI defense has demonstrated that there are efficient and relatively cheap ways one can employ to retain an ability to deal a crushing retaliatory blow to the aggressor," Anureyev wrote in the article.
He asserted that the cost of neutralizing U.S. space weapons would be far less than the cost of SDI. Other officials have put the cost of countermeasures at only 1% or 2% of the American project.
Anureyev said SDI space platforms are vulnerable to attack from a wide variety of weapons, including "space mines"--explosive satellites the United States says the Kremlin has had in its arsenal for years.
"Besides, one can produce clouds of metal balls to travel on collision courses with SDI components," the report said. "Coasting at a speed of (10 miles) per second, one such (1-ounce) ball can pierce a steel casing--or a space station's wall--which is (6 inches) thick."
Anureyev also described methods of protecting Soviet missiles during their flight, when the American stations are supposed to identify and destroy them.
Laser weapons under development for the "Star Wars" program could be countered by coating missiles with light-deflecting material or tumbling the warheads through space to prevent focusing of the light beam, he wrote.
It would also be possible to add an extra cooling system to missiles to draw off the heat of a laser, or to spread clouds of gas in the atmosphere around missiles to diffuse the laser beam, he said.
Anureyev also discussed ways to camouflage a launch and mentioned using decoys to exhaust U.S. anti-missile defenses and employing electronic systems to confuse the American defense.