The A-235 Samolet-M is an upgrade of the currently operational A-135 Samolet that is also referred to as the Moscow system. The A-235 will be a fixed land-based ballistic missile defense system and its new interceptors will probably utilize the presently mothballed 51T6 (Gorgon) silos. According to reports from December 2012, the A-235 could become operational in later 2013 or early 2014.1
Reportedly, the A-235 will use modernized 53T6 missiles, also known as the SH-08 or PRS-1 (NATO designation: Gazelle, U.S. DOD designation: ABM-3), with conventional warheads.2 Some experts doubted that the system’s capability of hit-to-kill interception.3 To shoot down ballistic missiles, Russia currently uses HE-fragmentation or nuclear warheads in its surface-to-air missile and ballistic defense systems. The A-235 is supposed to replace the A-135 that is equipped with 10kT nuclear interceptors.
Russia began work on this system in 1991. The system has been designed and developed by the Novator company in Yekaterinburg. The A-235’s specifications remain unknown but it was reported that it will have a range of up to a 100km and an altitude of up to 30km.4
- Aleksei Mikhailov, “Antimissile Shield of Moscow Will Be Reinforced with Gazelles,” Izvestia, December 12, 2012, sec. Military Status. ↩
- Ruslan Pukhov, “Joint Missile Defense Is Limited to Data Sharing,” Moscow Times Website, May 3, 2012, supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring; accessible in LexisNexis. ↩
- Mikhailov, “Antimissile Shield of Moscow Will Be Reinforced with Gazelles.” ↩
- Ibid. Mikhailov, “Antimissile Shield of Moscow Will Be Reinforced with Gazelles.” “Russia Capable of Responding to Space Arms Race: Official,” Xinhua General News Service, December 11, 2012, sec. World News; Military, accessible in LexisNexis. “Moscow to Get Updated Missile Defenses-Deputy Minister,” Cihan News Agency, December 11, 2012, accessible in LexisNexis. ↩