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Location: Near Lake Balkhash, about 1,600 km from Russia's Kapustin Yar ballistic missile test site
Subordinate To: N/A
Size: This site has a length of 480 km, which allows long-range testing
Facility Status: Non-operational

The primary function of Sary-Shagan is testing of anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems.

The Sary-Shagan test site conducts work on strategic anti-aircraft defense, anti-ballistic missile defense, and anti-satellite systems. Established in 1956, Sary-Shagan was a natural choice for a test site for anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems. It is located about 1,600 km from Russia's Kapustin Yar ballistic missile test site and therefore provides coverage of the impact area for missiles launched from there.[1,2,3] It is the only site where Russian tests of ABM systems are allowed under the 1972 ABM Treaty.[4] Sary-Shagan has near ideal conditions for testing. The weather is sunny most of the year. The site has a length of 480km, which allows long-range testing. Sary-Shagan is equipped with Kazakhstani-designed MR-9 and Baloban target missiles.[5] In addition to testing grounds, Sary-Shagan included facilities at the nearby town of Priozersk. Some facilities at Sary-Shagan have been leased to Russia, while other facilities have been transferred to the Kazakhstani National Center for Radioelectronics and Communications.[6] Kazakhstan is planning to increase cooperation with Russia and other former Soviet republics on leasing Sary-Shagan facilities. According to the Head of Kazakhstani General Staff Alibek Kasymov, the money obtained from leasing Sary-Shagan will be spent primarily for upgrading the test site itself. The second priority is financing the town of Priozersk.[5] A series of missile tests were conducted at the Sary-Shagan and Kapustin Yar test sites in 1961-1962. During these tests, missiles were launched from Kapustin Yar into the impact area in conjunction with ballistic missile defense at Sary-Shagan.[2,3] Jane's Strategic Weapons Systems indicated that in 1961, a SH-01 ‘Galosh' interceptor system at Sary-Shagan hit an incoming SS-4 ‘Sandel' warhead traveling in excess of 3 km/s.[1] Sary-Shagan was also a major Soviet test facility for directed energy weapons (DEW), particularly laser weapons.[7]

[1] Duncan Lennox, ed., Jane's Strategic Weapons Systems, 1996, Issue 18, May 1995.
[2] "Known Nuclear Tests Worldwide, 1945-1993," The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May-June 1994, p. 62.
[3] Sayre Stevens, "The Soviet BMD Program," Ballistic Missile Defense, Ashton B. Carter and David N. Schwartz editors, The Brookings Institution, 1984, pp. 191-197.
[4] Sergey Sokut, "Udarom na udar," Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, No. 44, November 1999, pp. 1,4; in WPS Oborona i bezopasnost, No. 135, 17 November 1999.
[5]"Kazakhstan nameren kommertsializirovat poligon Saryshagan," Panorama, No. 34, September 2001.{entered 10/15/01 DK}
[6] Merhat Sharipzhan, "Kazakh-Russian Military Cooperation," NISNP E-mail correspondence, 1 November 1996.
[7] Duncan Lennox, ed., Jane's Strategic Weapons Systems, 1996, Issue 20, January 1996.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents.

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