While the former Soviet Union was publicly denouncing the U.S. Star Wars initiative in the 1980s, it was secretly developing its own space-based weapon systems, including a space battle station, according to Jane’s Intelligence Review.
But there was a key difference in the Soviet and American approaches: The U.S. program was aimed at defending the country against ballistic missile attacks, while the Soviet program was designed to destroy enemy targets on the ground as well, the magazine said.
Since the Soviet break-up in 1989, Jane’s said, the Soviet program “has lost most, if not all, of its funding.” The U.S. government is still funding a multibillion-dollar research program for a scaled-down version of the Star Wars missile defense system.
The Jane’s article, “Red Star Wars,” was written by Steven Zaloga, a military analyst for the Teal Group Corp. of Fairfax, Va., a defense and aerospace consultancy. He has written extensively on Russian missile development.
Zaloga said recent Russian revelations show that Moscow’s propaganda campaign against Star Wars was partly intended to hide “one of the Soviet Union’s most secret defense programs.”
“These Soviet designs were dogs - real losers,” said John Pike, an expert on Soviet missile defenses with the Federation of American Scientists in Washington.
“It really helps to understand why the Soviets were so concerned about Star Wars because when they looked at the American program and compared it with their own pathetic designs, I think they just realized this was something they could not match,” Pike said.
The idea behind former President Reagan’s Star Wars project was to station lasers in space to obliterate ballistic missiles.