Russia conducted a successful flight test of a developmental anti-satellite missile on Wednesday that is capable of destroying satellites in orbit, American defense officials said.
The Nudol direct ascent anti-satellite missile was launched from the Plesetsk test launch facility, located 500 miles north of Moscow, said officials familiar with the situation.
The missile was monitored by U.S. intelligence satellites and the test appeared to be successful.
The launch marks another major milestone for Moscow’s efforts to develop weapons capable of destroying U.S. navigation, communications, and intelligence satellites, a key strategic advantage.
No additional details were available, and it could not be learned if the Nudol missile was fired against a satellite or was test launched in a suborbital trajectory without hitting a target.
It was the second successful test of the Nudol, following a Nov. 18 launch, and shows Russia is advancing its anti-satellite weaponry.
A Pentagon spokeswoman had no immediate comment.
Under Russian President Vladimir Putin, Moscow is modernizing its entire strategic arsenal and developing new weapons like anti-satellite missiles.
Air Force Lt. Gen. David J. Buck, commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, told a House hearing in March that the Russians are developing space weapons, known as “counter-space capabilities.”
“Russia views U.S. dependency on space as an exploitable vulnerability, and they are taking deliberate actions to strengthen their counter-space capabilities,” Buck told the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee.