Soviet Reactions to the National Aerospace Plane (NASP)

by Rose E. Gottemoeller, N. Brooks

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This Note reviews the Soviet public reaction to the proposed development of the U.S. national aerospaceplane (NASP), a manned hypersonic vehicle that the United States intends to build primarily to develop technologies for use on planes of the future, both military and civilian. The authors reviewed the open literature published between the mid-1960s and mid-1989, including military journals, general political commentary, popular science publications, and legal journals. They looked, in particular, for signs that the Soviets are developing defensive systems and other measures to counter the NASP. They also sought evidence of possible international legal actions that the Soviets might take to limit NASP development. They conclude that the Soviets see the NASP as a component of strategic weapon modernization in space and recognize its bomber-modernization potential. The continuation of the NASP program will require the Soviets to respond to the threat. Their response, as in the case of the Strategic Defense Initiative, will most likely stress solutions that are the simplest and least expensive to develop and deploy.

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