Russian Air-Launched Missile Identified as Antisatellite Weapon

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Three sources associated with a U.S. intelligence report confirmed that images of a Russian MiG-31 Foxhound which emerged in September 2018 show an antisatellite missile which is likely to be operational by 2022. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report in February 2018 indicating that Russia had such a weapon under development. The MiG-31’s approximate 20,600 m operational altitude has previously made the aircraft a platform of choice for Russian antisatellite missiles.

In 1985, the Soviet Union successfully tested a 79M6 antisatellite missile from a MiG-31D, a paired down variant of the MiG-31, which allowed the aircraft to fly higher and faster than the base variant. Development of the MiG-31D and 79M6 as well as an upgraded version of both the aircraft and missile (designated MiG-31DM and 95M6) was cancelled in 1991. The aircraft and weapon prototypes remained at the testing facility in Kazakhstan after the collapse of the Soviet Union.