The operational status of the Russian space-based early warning system

Paul Podvig, "The operational status of the Russian space-based early warning system," Science & Global Security, 4, no. 3, (1994): 363-384.
Early warning against ballistic missile attack has played a very important role in the military doctrines of the Unites States and Russia. Both countries have deployed systems of early warning satellites that could detect an attack almost immediately after the missiles were launched. These systems were vital for providing a launch on warning capability that was an important building block of their deterrence policies. With the end of the Cold War, the probability of a large-scale nuclear conflict has practically disappeared and the mission of the early warning system has become more diversified. The new missions, such as detection of accidental or unauthorized launches or countering the emerging threat of ballistic missile launches from third-world countries, becoming almost equally important, could require an early warning system of a different kind. This article analyzes the capabilities of the currently deployed Russian space based early warning system and shows that the system could not be modified to be effectively used in the post Cold War environment.

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