Ogonek Report on `21st Century Weapons' -- Plasma Shield Able To Protect Entire Planet From Nuclear Threat

in Russian, Apr 95 No 16, p 35

[FBIS Translated Text] The press reported in very considerable detail on the April 1993 meeting of the presidents of the USA and Russia in Vancouver. But one thing remains not entirely clear: Had Boris Yeltsin proposed to his American friend the idea of carrying out the major experiment "Doveriye" ("Trust") in the vicinity of Kwajelein Atoll, initiating a joint effort to create a global antimissile defense system. It was not until summer of that year that 21ST CENTURY SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, the well-informed journal of the American military-industrial complex, finally informed us that there had in fact been a conversation on this topic between the presidents. What did the politicians talk about? What kind of experiment is this?

For practical purposes plasma weapons have already been created in Russia. Their action is based on focusing beams of electromagnetic energy produced by laser or microwave radiation into the upper layers of the atmosphere. These beams would be able to defeat any target flying at supersonic or near-sonic speeds in the near future. A cloud of highly ionized air arises at the focus of the laser or microwave rays, at an altitude of up to 50 kilometers. Upon entering it, any object--a missile, an airplane, is deflected from its trajectory and disintegrates in response to the fantastic overloads arising due to the abrupt pressure difference between the surface and interior of the flying body. What is fundamental in this case is that the energy aimed by the terrestrial components of the plasma weapon--lasers and antennas--is concentrated not at the target itself but a little ahead of it. Rather than "incinerating" the missile or airplane, it "bumps" it out of trajectory.

Academician Ramiliy Avramenko, the chief designer of the Scientific Research Institute of Radio Instrument Making and the scientific director of the efforts to create plasma weapons in Russia, feels his brainchild--the plasmoid--to be invulnerable. Besides that, in his opinion plasma ABM weapons will not only cost several orders of magnitude less than SDI, but will also be many times simpler to create and control.

A plasmoid has a dual purpose. Such a unit can be used to "patch" ozone holes in the atmosphere, and to knock space garbage out of orbit.

According to dependable information our scientific proving ground has already conducted tests in which a projectile flying through plasma discharges was deflected from its normal trajectory and self-destructed.

Tests on a Russian plasma weapon run jointly with the USA against real targets--ballistic missiles and supersonic airplanes--were initiated by Russia's most prominent scientists--Nobel Prize recipient and creator of lasers Academician Aleksandr Prokhorov, Russian Academy of Sciences President Yuriy Osipov, and plasma researcher Academician Andrey Gaponov-Grekhov. That is the "Trust" experiment. Scientists from the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics at Arzamas-16, the Central Institute of Aerohydrodynamics, the Central Scientific Research Institute of Machine Building in Kaliningrad, in the Moscow vicinity, and the Scientific Research Institute of Radio Instrument Making took part in its development.

Russia would be able to deliver components of the plasma weapon to the USA's ABM test range in the Pacific: microwave generators and a few tens of thousands of phased arrays. The United States would supply its electronics and computers, in which it has the lead. The missiles could be launched both from our country and from American missile test ranges.

In the opinion of our scientists the experiment could cost around $300 million. This by the way is four orders of magnitude less than what was planned in the USA's budget for creation of its own plasma weapon. Russia doesn't have this kind of money now. That's why our country suggested to the United States back in 1993 that we join efforts to create a global ABM system. Experts also feel that were the USA to continue working on this problem on its own, the expenses would total $30 billion, with no firm certainty of success. As far as we know, Bill Clinton hasn't yet communicated with Boris Yeltsin regarding the "Trust" experiment. Possibly because the Russian plasma weapon is based on discoveries in several areas of science that are deeply developed in Russia but have not yet been sufficiently studied in the USA. And no politician or scientist likes to show his ignorance.