MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Ilya Kramnik) - By 2030, the United States will be able to strike from space on a global scale, including Russia, Air Force Commander Alexander Zelin told journalists.
"Development of air and space attack weapons by foreign countries shows that by 2030 air and outer space will turn into a single sphere for armed struggle," he said.
Zelin said that to counter this threat, Russia is planning to build a fundamentally new force of air and space defense (ASD) by 2020.
This defense force will be equipped with anti-aircraft missile systems - upgraded S-300s, S-400s, which have recently been launched into production, and eventually with S-500s, which are currently under development. It is reported that the S-500 will not be based on its predecessor, the S-400, but will represent an entirely new system capable of effectively countering ballistic targets.
In addition, ASD will be armed with aviation systems. Zelin announced the decision to reinitiate the program to develop anti-space systems based on the heavy fighter interceptor MiG-31.
But how serious is the aforementioned threat? At the turn of this century, a number of authors wrote about U.S. plans to create expeditionary aerospace forces (EAF), which would combine space vehicles and aircraft of various designations, and would be capable of mounting precision strikes on a global scale.
However, today even the United States cannot deploy an EAF system. It is not clear what will change by 2030. Experts believe that given the inertia of research and time-consuming development and adoption of new hardware, an EAF system is not likely to be built within the next 20 years.
It is also important to consider the problems in relationships between the Pentagon and those who design modern weaponry, as mentioned in a recent report by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA). In effect, the engineers have accused the Pentagon of an inability to grasp what industry and science can realistically develop, and of staking too much on global technological supremacy.
Many specialists believe that 2030 may only see the emergence of the first prototypes of flying vehicles capable of attacking targets on a global scale in a suborbital ballistic and aerodynamic mode. Supersonic vehicle research is playing a considerable role in this respect, and is being developed in Russia among other countries.
Flying at much higher speeds and deployed at much higher altitudes than conventional aircraft, these vehicles will have an impressive capability both militarily and otherwise.
Judging by all that we know, Zelin's recent statement on the development of a fundamentally new high-altitude reconnaissance plane which would be immune to air defense would proceed under the same reasoning. In addition, according to some sources, this technology could be used to develop a strategic bomber under the PAK DA project (perspective long-range air hub). Its appearance is expected in the late 2010s-early 2020s.
To sum up, American and Russian military plans are designed with a very long perspective, and the terms of their implementation may change substantially under the impact of various factors including the global economic crisis.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.