Russia may be outfitting its space surveillance complex in the Greater Caucasus mountain range with a ground-based laser that can allegedly disable foreign satellites passing over its territory.
An open-source investigation published in The Space Review claims that construction of the “Kalina project” is underway, citing satellite images from Google Earth and documents from Russian contractors in the defense industry.
The purpose of the Kalina project is to create “a system for the ‘functional suppression’ of electro-optical systems of satellites with the help of solid-state lasers,” according to a bank document secured in the investigation, per The Space Review.
Other documents reveal that the Russian company Precision Instrument Systems (NPK SPP) received a contract from the Russian Defense Ministry to help develop “laser systems for electro-optical warfare.”
Upon completion, Kalina would feature a telescope that could accurately aim laser beams at satellites from the mountain-peak Krona space surveillance complex roughly 50 miles northwest of the Russia-Georgia border.
The investigation stated that it is unclear how far along the project is. Critical equipment like the telescope is already in place, but there is currently no way to tell how much internal hardware has been installed.
Construction on the project may have started as early as 2011, according to the investigation, and it appears that it suffered several delays, not least of which has been caused by the economic sanctions imposed on Russia for its military aggression in Ukraine, beginning in 2014, per The Jerusalem Post.
The Kalina project could ultimately have its intended effect of blinding foreign satellites of countries Russia deems antagonistic. It could prove a challenge to the United States’ decades-long superiority with satellite intelligence, according to The Jerusalem Post.
Industrial and military competition over space will most certainly become the new frontier of geopolitics if it is not already.