Russian Aerospace Defence Forces

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"VKO" redirects here. For the airport, see Vnukovo International Airport.
Russian Aerospace Defence Forces
Medium emblem of the Космические войска Российской Федерации.svg
Большая эмблема Космических войск России.png
Emblem of the Aerospace Defence Forces
Active 1 December 2011-
Country Russia
Allegiance Ministry of Defence
Type Air/Missile Defence
Anniversaries 4 October (Space Forces Day)
Lieutenant-General Aleksandr Golovko [1]

The Aerospace Defence Forces (Russian: Войска воздушно-космической обороны, tr. Voyska Vozdushno-Kosmicheskoy Oborony [2] or VKO[3] (ВКО) is the branch of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation responsible for air and missile defence, and the operation of Russian military satellites and the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. Formed on 1 December 2011, it replaced the Space Forces.[4] The VKO was first commanded by former Space Forces commander Col Gen Oleg Ostapenko, who was promoted to Deputy Minister of Defence in November 2012.[5][6] On 24 December 2012 Aleksandr Golovko was appointed the new commander.[1] Although it is officially translated as aerospace in English[7] it covers both attacks from the air and from (outer) space, and some Russian writers translate it as "air and space" instead.[5][8]


The Aerospace Defence Forces trace their heritage to the Space Operations Section, Strategic Operations Branch of the Supreme High Command Reserve Artillery, formed in 1955, and transformed into the Space Services Central Administration of the Strategic Missile Troops in 1964 (and later the Chief Space Operations Directoriate in 1972).

In 1967 the Anti-Missile and Space Defence Forces were formed (Russian: войска противоракетной и противокосмической обороны [ПРО и ПКО], tr. Voyska Protivoraketnoy i Protivokosmicheskoy Oborony [PRO i PKO]) under Artillery Lieutenant General Yu. Votintsev.[9] They were reorganised as the Ministry of Defence Space Service Units in 1982, and were expanded to include the Chief Space Operations Directorate in 1986. In 1991 the Soviet Union was broken up. The Russian Armed Forces were established on 7 May 1992, enabling the creation of Russian Space Forces later that year on 10 August. They were merged with the Strategic Missile Troops in 1996, but were reformed in 2001.

In 2006 President Vladimir Putin agreed with the idea of a new "Air and Space Defence Concept" from 2016, but without the implication that it would be a separate service. In 2008 Aleksandr Zelin argued that the missile defence and space defence forces should be merged into the Air Force.[8]

On 30 November 2010 President Dmitry Medvedev said that air and space defence services would be under a single strategic command and the General Staff and Ministry of Defence had decided it would be on the basis of the Space Forces. In April 2011 the then Space Forces commander Oleg Ostapenko said that concept for the future system had been approved. The service was created by the presidential decree “On changes to the composition of the Russian Armed Forces until January 1, 2016” which has not been published.[8]

Thus, on December 1, 2011, the Space Forces became the Aerospace Defence Forces, fusing all space and some air defence components into one joint service.


The new service consists of the Air and Space Defence Command; and the Space Command. The structure is as follows:[5][7][8]

It is led by Oleg Maydanovich, former head of the Titov Centre.[8]

It is headed up by Sergey Popov who was formerly in charge of air defence in the Air Force.[8]

In early March 2014, spokesman of the forces said the aerospace defences will include a space- and ground-based intelligence-gathering and missile early warning network, an air and space defence command, a VKO command-and-control structure, and a logistics support branch. Deputy Defence Minister Yury Borisov said on that month that the military will invest 2 trillion rubles ($55.3 billion) in building up its aerospace defence weapons over the next six years to ensure they are capable of thwarting existing and future types of air and space attacks.

The Aerospace Defence Forces are located across Russia and have bases in some Commonwealth of Independent States countries such as early warning radars in Azerbaijan (until December 2012), Kazakhstan and Belarus, and the Okno facility in Tajikistan.


Early warning of missile attack:

Voronezh radar at Lekhtusi, Armavir, Kaliningrad, Mileshevka, Yeniseysk, Barnaul[11]
Daryal radar at Pechora
Volga radar at Hantsavichy
Dnepr radar at Balkhash, Irkutsk and Olenegorsk
Oko early warning satellites

Space surveillance:

Okno in Tajikistan
Krona in Zelenchukskaya and Nakhodka
RT-70 in Yevpatoria and Galenki (together with Roscosmos)

Missile defence:

A-135 anti-ballistic missile system
Don-2N radar

Satellite Systems:

Liana space reconnaissance and target designation system (2 satellites electronic reconnaissance 14F145 "Lotus-C1")[12]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "New commander of the Air and Space Defense Forces". Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces. 24 December 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Войска Воздушно-космической обороны заступают на боевое дежурство в РФ (in Russian). RIA Novosti. 1 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Войска воздушно-космической обороны (in Russian). Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. n.d. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  4. ^ "Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces go on duty to stave off missile threats". RIA Novosti. 1 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c "Russia creates Air and Space Defense Forces". 1 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Oleg Ostapenko". Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. n.d. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "Structure". Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. n.d. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Stukalin, Alexander (May 2012). "Russian Air and Space Defense Troops: Gaping Holes". Moscow Defense Brief (Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies) 2012 (2). 
  9. ^ "4 октября - День военно-космических сил России" [October 4 - Day of Military Space Forces in Russia] (in Russian). Prazdnuem. n.d. 
  10. ^ See also Michael Holm,, accessed August 2012.
  11. ^
  12. ^