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Russia to raise Aerospace Defence Forces

A file photo.

MOSCOW (PTI): Russia will raise Aerospace Defence Forces by the end of this year, which will work under a single command-and-control system to effectively handle potential missile threats, a top defence official said on Thursday.

The forces will be capable of destroying enemy targets in near space and in future could be used for defence from stray asteroids, Commander-in-Chief of Russian Space Forces Lt. Gen Oleg Ostapenko was quoted as saying by Interfax.

"The Aerospace Defence Forces will be raised by the end of 2011 in accordance with President Dmitry Medvedev's orders," Ostapenko said. The General said the concept of Aerospace Defence Forces has been approved and 'hectic' work to implement it was underway.

The programme for the development and expansion of the first echelon of the missile attack early warning system was underway 'strictly on schedule', he said without divulging any details, when Russia will put in orbit its latest military spacecraft for this.

Earlier yesterday, presenting his cabinet's annual report to State Duma (Lower House) Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that Russia is to deploy its latest air defence S-500 missile system capable of hitting targets in the near space, which are likely to become the mainstay of aerospace defence forces.

Russian Space Forces Chief also said that its resources for the control of outer space can also be used to combat asteroid threat.

"So far this is not our job, but if required we will also work in this direction," Gen Ostapenko said.

According to him Russia is to shortly commission a lighter modernised version of its main SLV Soyuz, which will be equipped with the first stage NK-33 booster engine, developed in the 1970s to carry Soviet cosmonauts to the moon onboard a giant N1 rocket.

However, after the Soviet collapse Russia is supplying these engines to the US for Atlas SLVs.


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