|Duga-1 OTH Receiver|
Source: Ingmar Runge
The Duga OTH (over-the-horizon) radar was a well known example. Although top secret at the time, the Duga soon got nicknamed "the woodpecker" in the West because of its characteristic repetitive tapping noise that disrupted HF utility and communications signals across the world. By the mid-1980s it became clear that the Duga's technology at the time was inadequate. More about the Duga radar in our Mysterious Cold War Signals.
With the Duga radars no longer operational, what other systems protected the Soviet Union and now Russia? The SPRN System Warning on Missile Attack (Rus. Sistema Preduprezhdeniya o Raketnom Napadenii) consist of both satellites and land-based radar.
Early Soviet Satellite Program
This first generation US-K Managed Satellite Continental (Rus. Upravlyayemyy Sputnik Kontinental'nyy) was placed in a highly elliptical Molniya orbit. The similar US-KS Managed Satellite Continental Stationary (Rus. Upravlyayemyy Sputnik Kontinental'nyy Statsionarnyy) was placed in geosynchronous orbit. More on orbits in the further reading links.
|US-K and US-KS Satellite|
Second Generation Око-1 with Issues
The second generation satellites from the Око-1 program launched between 1991 and 2012 eight US-KMO Managed Satellite Control Ocean Seas (Rus. Upravlyayemyy Sputnik Kontrol' Morey Okeanov) in a geosynchronous orbit, with an expected lifespan of 5 to 7 years, which they never lived up to.
Source: Novosti Kosmonavtik
From 2015 on, the US-КMO satellites were gradually replaced by the new generation Tundra satellites (Тундра), part of the EKS Unified Space System - Detection and Combat Control (Rus. Edinoy Kosmicheskoy Sistemy - Obnaruzheniya i Boyevogo Upravleniya), also known as Kupol (Купол).
At Gunter's Space Page more details on the US-K, UK-KS, US-KMO and Tundra satellites. The US-K was carried in orbit with the Molniya-M launcher, both US-KS and US-KMO with the Proton-K launcher, and the Tundra with Soyuz-2-1b Fregat. The contractor for most of the satellites is Kometa Corporation (translation), previously known as TsNII Kometa. The Tundra is manufactured by RKK Energia.
Today's Early Warning Radar
The Russian Federation also revived the long-distance early warning capabilities to track ballistic missiles with a new generation of radar, called 77Ya6 Voronezh (Rus. 77Я6 Воронеж). The NIIDAR scientific research institute initiated its research for early warning radar in the late 1970s.
The Voronezh is a line-of-sight phased array radar, a fixed antenna that directs its radar beam electronically. There are five different types. The Voronezh-M (VHF), DM (UHF), VP (high-power VHF), SM (SHF) and MSM (dual VHF-SHF). They have a range up to 6000 km (3728 mi) and can track 500 targets simultaniously. The first Voronezh on actual combat duty operates since 2009. Meanwhile, seven of ten planned radars are operational across Russia.
|Voronezh-M Radar in Lekhtusi, Leningrad region (source Russian Army)|
The Voronezh is the first radar of VZG High Factory Readiness (Rus. Vysokoy Zavodskoy Gotovnosti). Its factory-made modular structures allow fast construction, between one and two years. More technical information and many detailed images of the Voronezh radar at Military Russia blog (translation) and at New Defense Order (translation).
One Voronezh-DM radar is located near Pionersky, a city in the Kaliningrad oblast. This is a quite unique but smartly chosen location, as Kaliningrad is today completely surrounded by Poland and Lithuania, two EU countries that are also NATO members.
Kaliningrad was previously the East Prussian city Königsberg, part of Germany. After the Second World War, Kaliningrad became part of the Soviet Union and the Kaliningrad oblast became an administrative part of the Russian Federation in 1991. This required special travel arrangements for the inhabitants, enclosed between Poland and Lithuania. An early warning system for nuclear missiles inside the territory of the main adversary? That's as close as it gets!
на новой суперсовременной РЛС семейства Воронеж
State-of-the-art radar of Voronezh family (auto-translate available)
50 лет назад создана система предупреждения о ракетном нападении
Missile attack warning system created 50 years ago
Further Reading and Technical Details
- Око program (translation) at Command and Measurement Complex.
- Tundra satellite at Space Review history and tech details sensors Tundra and predecessors US-K and US-KMO.
- Tundra Satellites (translation) at Defense New Order Strategy.
- Russia’s Soyuz-2-1b launche of 4th Tundra at NASA Spaceflight.com
- Orbit types video from NSSI explains the geostationary orbit and the highly elliptical Molniya orbit with the equator's perturbation acceleration effect.
- Catalog of Earth Satellite Orbits at NASA's Earth Observatory.
- Siderial Day Neil deGrasse Tyson explains the duration of Earth's rotation.
- Ground and space echelons of SPRN with various radars and satellites at Top War.
- Forewarned Means Protected (translation) 50 years OTH radar and Missile Warning System, from the Armed Forces Red Star newspaper.
- Russia's NC3 and Early Warning Systems L. Ryabikhin.
- ESKOiBU system (translation) Unified Space Detection and Combat Control System, Defense New Order Strategy.
- History of Kometa Corporation (translation) including links to their first generation and second generation satellites. See also as history of TsNII Kometa.
- RKK Energia Rocket and Space Corporation and its rocket and space history.
More Related on This Blog
- Mysterious Cold War Signals with a detailed description of the Duga phased array over-the-horizon radar.
- 3 Seconds from World War 3 The story of a Soviet satellite that mistakenly triggered a missile warning.
- Dead Hand Revealed How the Soviets could still execute a retaliatory nuclear strike, even if a U.S. strike was detected too late.
- US Strategic Intelligence on the USSR and miscalculation of Soviet aggressiveness during the Cold War.