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21 Jun, 2016 08:08

Russia successfully test-fires anti-ballistic missile – Defense Ministry

Russia successfully test-fires anti-ballistic missile – Defense Ministry

The Russian Air Force has test-fired a domestically built short-range anti-ballistic missile to verify its performance. The system is already in use with the military as part of Russia’s missile defense shield.

The short-range anti-ballistic missile (ABM) was successfully test-fired at 7.00am local time on Tuesday from the Sary-Shagan testing ground in Kazakhstan, the Russian Defense Ministry’s press service said, according to TASS.

“The launch was to verify performance characteristics of ABMs operated by the Air Force,” the ministry’s statement said.

The missile defense system is capable of neutralizing a possible nuclear strike on Russia, and ensures operation of national command and control systems in real-time mode, the statement added. A newer missile defense system is expected to replace it in the future, utilizing upgraded software and modernized ABMs.

The anti-ballistic missile performed well during the test and hit its target on schedule, Lieutenant General Viktor Gumenny, deputy commander of the Russian Air Force, told TASS.

Russia has been developing a missile defense shield for several decades to secure strategic military balance with the US. The A-135 anti-ballistic missile system is currently deployed around Moscow. It comprises dozens of interceptor missiles and sophisticated early warning radars.

The system, operated by the Air and Missile Defense Command of the Russian Air Force, is compliant with the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty from which the US unilaterally withdrew in 2002. America keeps developing its own systems, including in Eastern Europe, where NATO is building Aegis Ashore ground-based missile defense sites.

The bloc’s missile defense compound in Deveselu, Romania, became operational in May. Poland plans to obtain a similar base within two years. Washington insists the Aegis Ashore systems are for “defensive purpose only,” arguing they would help protect European allies from Iran or North Korea’s missile threats.

Moscow says the systems can be easily adapted to deploy offensive weapons. “The missiles are put into a capsule used for launches of sea-based Tomahawk missiles. Now they are placing their antimissiles there, which are capable of engaging a target at a distance of up to 500 kilometers [310 miles],” Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Friday.

“We know year by year what will happen, and they know that we know,” he said, adding that Western officials “pull the wool over [their news outlets] eyes,” who in turn misinform their audiences.

Russian leaders have previously said Washington’s missile defense plans in Eastern Europe leave Moscow with no choice but to target countries hosting such systems, stressing that Russia’s next-generation ballistic missiles are capable of penetrating any adversary missile defense shield.