Forewarned means protected
February 15 marks the 50th anniversary of the first intercession of the forces and means of over-the-horizon detection of the Missile Attack Warning System.
Colonel Andrey REVENOK.
Over a half-century history, combat alert did not stop for a minute, and the Missile Attack Warning System (EWS) was always ready to fulfill its main task - to warn the country's political and military leadership of a possible missile attack. The head of the Main Center for Missile Attack Warning of the Space Forces of the Aerospace Forces, Colonel Andrei REVENOK, tells about the results with which the representatives of the early warning system came to the anniversary.
- Andrey Vladimirovich, exactly 50 years ago, a completely new, incredibly complex and extremely important strategic defensive weapons system took over on combat duty, the main task of which was to ensure the detection of the launch of ballistic missiles of a potential enemy aimed at the territory of our country. How difficult was the task of creating such a system? What technical and organizational difficulties did its creators face?
- The creation of the Missile Attack Warning System was caused by the military-political situation that developed in the late 50s - early 60s. The Soviet Union had a powerful air defense system, but the development of nuclear missile systems of the USA, France and Great Britain proceeded rapidly. In the Strategic Missile Forces, which appeared in 1959, the question arose: "Who will issue information for making decisions on response actions?"
To say that the system was created from scratch would probably be wrong. Air defense stations were created and used, the principles and methods of radar were studied, but the range, detection heights did not allow detecting a ballistic missile with high reliability.
The task of creating a complex for detecting a ballistic missile was extremely difficult.
First, the radar must have a detection range of the head units of a ballistic missile at ranges of about 2,500 kilometers. Until that time, there was no experience in creating such radar stations.
Secondly, it was necessary to detect targets with a small reflective surface and moving at high speed. Such targets were in the radar coverage area for two or three minutes. And in order to detect such targets, a new principle of detection and formation of detection information was needed.
Thirdly, at such target speeds and lack of time for detection, the target detection process should only be automatic. This meant that completely new algorithms for processing radar information were required.
Fourthly, after the target is detected, data about it must be transmitted to the command post several thousand kilometers away, and this information must be transmitted continuously as the target moves.
Finally, it was necessary to organize the combat service of personnel in a special way. At the same time, the organization of combat duty in other branches of the military was not suitable for the warning system.
A completely new problem turned out to be the influence of the auroras on the operation of the radar - the auroras completely "jammed" the radar with interference, which threatened to miss the target.
We can say with satisfaction that all these problems have been successfully resolved. A combat program was developed and implemented into the operation of the radar station, which made it possible to confidently detect targets under the influence of aurora borealis.
In the Central Research Institute of Communications, a data transmission system (SPD) was developed and implemented, which ensured the continuous transmission of a large amount of radar information from the radar to the command post.
"Iron" was created, but it had to be effectively used, and here one cannot fail to mention the first commander of the PRN division, Colonel Vladimir Strelnikov, later the commander of the 3rd separate army of the PRN (OSN), who personally developed the Guidelines for organizing and maintaining combat duty. the structure of the combat crew, the rights and obligations of the combat crew numbers.
The division was assigned a combat mission, the forms and methods of use were determined. The hard work of designers, builders, industry, and the military made it possible to solve all problems in the creation of an early warning missile system and successfully take up combat duty.
- With the development of missile technologies and the rapid qualitative and quantitative growth of intercontinental ballistic missiles, the created Missile Attack Warning System was also improved. What stages of development did the SPRN go through to ensure the guaranteed fulfillment of its tasks?
- The development of the nuclear missile potential of foreign states caused new threats, and they had to be feared, including by increasing the combat capabilities of the strategic defensive forces, which include an early warning system.
Turning to the history of the development of the Missile Attack Warning System, four main stages can be distinguished.
At the first stage, the early warning system was an early detection complex, consisting of two Dnestr-M radars and a command post.
This complex covered only the northwestern missile-hazardous direction. With the development of missile technology, especially the construction of ballistic missile submarines, missile attack became possible from any direction. Therefore, it was decided to additionally build a radar station along the perimeter of the country, namely in Sevastopol, a second radar station in Riga and a PRN radar station at the Balkhash and Irkutsk space reconnaissance nodes.
In addition, the Radio Engineering Institute (RTI) was tasked with developing a new radar "Dnepr" with significantly better characteristics in terms of the accuracy of determining the parameters of target movement, in terms of throughput and operational reliability. Part of the equipment of the first Dnestr-M radars was manufactured using now forgotten radio tubes.
In addition, in 1970 the Vympel TsNPO was formed, the director of which was appointed in the rank of deputy Vladimir Ivanovich Markov. A preliminary design of the Equator-2 was developed at TsNPO Vympel, which determined the prospects for the development of the early warning system. Vladislav Georgievich Repin was appointed the chief designer of the early warning system, and he was involved in the development of the early warning system.
As a result of this work, by 1976, the command post of the early detection complex (RO) was modernized into the command post of an early warning missile system, equipped with new computers by chief designer Mikhail Aleksandrovich Kartsev; a new display and control equipment and a warning system "Crocus" were installed, according to which warning information was communicated to the highest political and military leadership.
In December 1976, the Missile Attack Warning System was put on alert as part of the command post of the early warning system and radar station in Murmansk, Riga, Sevastopol, Balkhash and Irkutsk.
Portable warning consoles - "nuclear suitcases" in December 1976 were transferred to the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, Defense Minister, Chief of the General Staff and Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Andrei Pavlovich Kirilenko.
Thus, the first stage early warning system was created.
Taking into account the importance of the tasks solved by the early warning system, and the location of the radar station throughout the country, in 1977, by the decision of the USSR Defense Council, the 3rd separate army of special purpose anti-missile systems was formed. Major General Vladimir Strelnikov was appointed commander. In 1979, the Dnepr radar station in Mukachevo (Ukraine) was put on alert, and in 1982 a space system for detecting launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) from the United States was connected to the early warning missile system, where 1000 Minuteman ICBMs were on alert ...
The space warning system included a command post at Serpukhov and a constellation of nine spacecraft in highly elliptical orbits and one spacecraft in geostationary orbit.
Thus, the early warning system became two-echelon. The first echelon was a space warning system (CSW), which detected the launch of an ICBM, the second echelon was a radar for over-the-horizon detection of ballistic missiles on flight paths.
The third stage was the build-up of the combat capabilities of the early warning system in the 80s of the last century, when two super-powerful Daryal radars with phased antenna arrays in Pechora and Kutkashen (Azerbaijan) and the Daugava remote receiving position at the Murmansk hub were created and put on alert , which together with the radar station "Dnepr" made up the active-passive complex "Dnepr-Daugava", which significantly increased the stability of work in the conditions of exposure to aurora borealis.
Thus, by the end of the 80s, the early warning missile system was capable of detecting both the launch of ballistic missiles from the territory of the United States, and the raid of ballistic missiles from almost any direction.
At the fourth stage, work began on improving the created radar systems of the PRN and the development of a new generation of these means by the RTI Systems Concern, which united the research and production enterprises of the domestic military-industrial complex in the field of creating new generation radio-electronic and information systems. The high level of progress in the development of microwave microelectronics and digital computing technology has made it possible to radically change the approaches to the design and creation of a new generation of high factory readiness radar systems (VZG) of the Voronezh type.
The VZG radar uses new energy-saving solutions based on advanced solid-state microwave micro-radioelectronics and the latest digital computing technology.
In the future, it is planned to replace all existing stations of the Dnepr, Daryal and Volga types with new Voronezh-type radars.
- The collapse of the USSR caused serious damage to the uninterrupted functioning of the early warning system. Many of the most important objects of the ground echelon of the system ended up on the territory of the newly formed separate states. How did these events affect its combat readiness? What measures have been taken to preserve the capacity of the system and maintain it at the proper level? How difficult was it to restore the integrity of the PRN system and increase its capabilities to the modern level?
- Yes, the period was not easy, if the 80s could be called the apogee of the development of the domestic early warning system, then the period of the 90s was the destruction of the system.
The beginning was laid by the adoption of a resolution of the Council of Ministers on March 28, 1990 "On the elimination of the Daryal-U radar station in Krasnoyarsk."
Under pressure from the United States, the Skrunda node near Riga ceased to exist, and work at the Balkhash and Irkutsk nodes on the creation of the Daryal-U radar station at the Murmansk node was suspended. Radar nodes in Mukachevo and Sevastopol became the property of Ukraine.
Most of the system's means required work to extend the technical resource. The stations were in combat mode with a reduced potential, but the technical reliability laid down by the designers made it possible to complete the combat mission.
Even in these conditions, it was possible to develop the system. In 1996, the space system for detecting missile launches from the seas and oceans of the first stage was put into service, and the eastern command post of this system was taken over for experimental combat duty.
In 1995-1996, an addendum to the complex draft design for the development and improvement of the early warning system was being developed, in which, taking into account the prevailing military-political and economic situation, the appearance of all the means of the system being created was specified.
The radar station in Baranovichi (Belarus) was completed in 2003 under a government agreement and put on alert at the early warning system.
Over the entire period of operation of the national PRN system, more than 2000 launches of domestic and foreign ballistic missiles and about 1000 launches of space rockets were detected.
And here it should be said about the role of the commander of the PRN army, Lieutenant-General Anatoly Sokolov and the commander of the RKO troops, Colonel-General Viktor Smirnov, who did everything possible and managed to maintain the combat readiness of the army's assets, high morale and professionalism of the army personnel and ensured the successful implementation of combat missions in it's a busy time.
Despite the complexity of interstate relations and internal difficulties, combat duty did not stop for a minute, and the early warning system was ready to fulfill its main task - to warn the country's political and military leadership of a possible missile attack.
- Today, the PRN System is going through a rapid stage of high-tech development. The deployment of a network of new generation radar stations, created using high-availability technology, is nearing completion. A continuous radar field has been created, allowing continuous monitoring of all missile-hazardous directions from the territory of Russia. What makes these stations unique? What are their advantages over previous generations of radars?
- Today, the ground echelon of an early warning missile system consisting of 10 radar stations forms a continuous peripheral radar field and ensures guaranteed detection of attacking ballistic missiles in all strategic aerospace directions along all types of flight paths.
Military units of the Main Warning Center are located throughout the country from Kaliningrad to Komsomolsk-on-Amur. This geographical scope of the extraterritorial formation of the battle formation is associated with the specifics of the tasks being solved. First of all, with the need to provide the required warning time of a missile attack, which will be enough for the military-political leadership of the country to make a decision on counter-actions.
Currently, a new generation radar network has been deployed on the territory of the Russian Federation, created using high factory readiness technology (VZG). The new Voronezh radar stations are on alert in the Leningrad, Kaliningrad, Irkutsk, Orenburg regions, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk and Altai territories.
In addition, the modernized radar station "Dnepr" in the Murmansk region, "Daryal" in the Komi Republic and "Volga" in the Republic of Belarus continue to be on alert as part of the ground echelon of the PRN Systems.
As for the advantages of the new stations, first of all, the Voronezh-type radars can be built easily and quickly, as well as upgraded during operation. This is their significant difference from the radars of previous generations, which had a rigid architecture, in which the structure was formed during the development process and practically did not change until the end of operation.
Radar "Voronezh" is more modern, more economical, one might say, more intelligent and technologically advanced. It is not for nothing that a modern radar is called a factory-readiness radar, it can be compared with a kind of designer, the elements of which are manufactured according to the block-modular architecture, and all that remains at the facility is to assemble them in the right order. This allows, if necessary, to significantly increase the information and technical characteristics of the radar. The former plants were characterized by large, if not huge, dimensions and extremely high energy consumption. The power consumption of the VZG radar has decreased by four to five times. The size of the technological site on which the station is being built has also decreased, and, accordingly, the number of maintenance personnel has also decreased. At the same time, the tactical and technical characteristics of modern radars have not deteriorated in comparison with the previous ones,and even better in some respects.
The financial costs for the construction of the Voronezh radar station are immeasurably lower compared to the construction of the radar station of previous generations, which is also a key factor in modern realities.
The creation of new facilities of the PRN System is proceeding at a high pace. For comparison, the previous generation radars were built for more than ten years. Now, the construction of new stations from laying the foundation to putting them on alert takes about three years.
- What are the prospects for the development of the ground echelon of the early warning system?
- In order to develop the ground echelon of the early warning system, a continuous dual-band peripheral radar field is being created due to the deployment of high-availability radar stations on the territory of the Russian Federation.
Work is underway to create a dual-band VZG radar complex in the Vorkuta region and a high-potential decimeter VZG radar in the Murmansk region.
In addition, taking into account the relevance of the deployment of radar in the southwestern missile-hazardous direction, it was decided to create a VZG radar of the meter range in Sevastopol in the coming years.
In the long term, until 2030, the development of the early warning system provides for the modernization of a number of VZG radars that are on alert in the Krasnodar Territory, the Irkutsk Region, and the creation of new equipment in the Leningrad Region and the Far Eastern Federal District with improved performance and noise immunity.
The commissioning of these stations will ensure the completion of the re-equipment of the early warning missile system on a new generation radar.
- Are the latest developments of foreign states in the field of creating promising means of aerospace attack taken into account when creating new radars?
- Of course they are. The question of the possibilities of detecting foreign hypersonic weapons that are potential carriers of nuclear weapons is especially urgent now. I would like to note that the capabilities of the new radar stations initially included such indicators for counteracting the means of an aerospace attack of a potential enemy, which he has not even had yet.
- The most important role in the PRN system is assigned to the space echelon. What tasks do space-based detection systems perform? What work is being done to develop the space segment of the PRN System?
- At present, control of the positional areas of the launch of ballistic missiles from the territory of any state in real time is carried out using a constellation of spacecraft. The development of the first echelon of the space system PRN continues with the creation of the Unified Space System (CES).
As part of improving the space echelon of the Russian PRN System, the orbital constellation of the Unified Space System is being actively built up. In May 2020, the fourth spacecraft of this system was launched. Thus, the stage of deployment of the EKS orbital group was completed, the completion of the formation of which is envisaged by 2024.
The deployment of the CEN will ensure the fulfillment of tasks for the global control of the earth's surface.
The creation of new objects of the PRN system is proceeding at a high pace.
For comparison: the radars of the previous generation were built for more than 10 years. Now, the construction of new stations, from laying the foundation to putting them on alert, takes about three years.
- The creation of the EKS affected only the orbital group of the early warning system, or has the ground control complex of the orbital group also underwent qualitative changes?
- The spacecraft has become multipurpose, and the ground control complex has become more reliable, multiple redundancy of its systems, based on the use of modern domestic element base, provides information processing in real time. The likely aggressor has no chance of a sudden unpunished missile strike.
- How does the PRN System work when it detects a ballistic missile launch from the territory of a foreign state?
- In order to guarantee the detection of ballistic missiles from the territory of foreign states, the early warning system is built in two echelons: the first is space and the second is ground.
To detect the launch of ballistic missiles, the Unified Space System is used with an orbital constellation of spacecraft in high elliptical orbits, providing control of all missile-hazardous regions of the Northern Hemisphere. At launch, the propulsion systems of ballistic missiles create a powerful torch, which is recorded in the infrared wavelength range by special on-board spacecraft detection equipment from an altitude of about 40 thousand kilometers. Information about the detected launch and the direction of movement of the rocket from the spacecraft is relayed to the ground command post of the space system and, after assessing the reliability, is transmitted to the command posts of the early warning system, where the warning information “ATTENTION. START. 1st echelon ". At the same time, an alert signal is issued to the domestic missile defense system.
Further, when a ballistic missile approaches a distance of 4000-6000 kilometers, ground-based radar detects it, then follows it with the determination of the main trajectory characteristics and their delivery to the command posts of the early warning system. Based on the results of automatic processing of the received data, the information of the warning "ROCKET ATTACK" is generated, which is issued to the higher points of the state and military administration.
- What is the complexity of the officers' combat duty at the facilities of the PRN System? How are servicemen selected and trained for combat duty? What universities train specialists in your profile?
- As you know, in near-earth space there are tens of thousands of different kinds of objects. These are functioning spacecraft, artificial earth satellites and space debris. They are all sources of radar measurements that form our modern radar stations.
In all this variety of incoming information, the combat crew should highlight the main thing, determine the reliability of the detected targets, and in a very short time - within a few minutes. This imposes rather stringent requirements on the level of professional training of the combat crew and on its coherence.
In addition, combat crews conduct daily trainings to prevent and eliminate the consequences of natural and man-made emergencies.
To improve the professional training of officers, combat crews of the early warning missile systems are trained daily on specialized training simulators. With the help of special software for combat calculations, the most difficult conditions of the radar situation in the established areas of responsibility of ground means are simulated, during which the combat crews work out the fulfillment of strict standards for the detection, classification, tracking of ballistic targets and space objects and the generation of warning information for a timely report to higher levels points of state and military administration.
The training and education of officers for the military units of the Main Center of the PRN takes place at the A.F. Mozhaisky in St. Petersburg and the Academy of Aerospace Defense named after Marshal of the Soviet Union G.K. Zhukov in Tver, including students with operational and tactical training.
- The PRN system was created in close cooperation with other missile and space defense systems - the space control system (SKKP) and anti-missile defense (ABM). What are the specifics and features of this interaction?
- The project "Equator-2", developed back in 1971 under the leadership of Vladislav Grigorievich Repin, envisaged the creation of an integrated PRN system, that is, programmatically exchanging with missile defense and KKP systems.
At the same time, the missile defense system issued target designations to the missile defense system, for its part, the missile defense system transmitted information from its radars to the missile defense system, the KKP system created a private catalog at the early warning system, and the early warning system became the main source of data on low-orbit spacecraft for the KKP system.
The radar "Don-2N" of the missile defense system, which has the highest accuracy in determining the parameters of the spacecraft, allowed the KKP system to monitor the massive launch of small satellites and space debris.
In 1978, the PRN, missile defense and KKP systems were united by a single program and began to continuously exchange planned information about space objects.
And at present, despite the fact that the systems are organizationally separated, they work in a single algorithm, continue to improve in parallel and perform application tasks. So, the means of PRN daily issue more than 210 thousand measurements on space objects to the domestic control system of outer space, more than a thousand on especially important ones, providing almost 90 percent of all information on low-orbit space objects.
In addition, information interaction with the missile defense system provides the early warning system with accurate target information during the detection of launches of space rockets from the Plesetsk cosmodrome and test launches of domestic ballistic missiles.
- Tell us about the results of the activities of the PRN Main Center over the past 50 years of being on alert. What successes and achievements in improving and developing the PRN System, maintaining and increasing its combat readiness do you consider the most significant?
- In total, over the entire period of operation of the national PRN System, more than 2000 launches of domestic and foreign ballistic missiles and about 1000 launches of space rockets were detected. In 2020 alone, more than 90 combat operations were carried out by combat crews of the PRN Main Center.
In the course of using early warning systems, new forms and methods of using rocket technology by foreign states were identified, and successes and failures in the implementation of national space programs were determined.
I consider the most significant successes in the improvement and development of the PRN system: completion of the creation of a closed radar field along the perimeter of the Russian Federation on the basis of radars created using the technology of high factory readiness; testing with a positive result of the improved early warning system, which allows detecting launches of non-strategic ballistic missiles, hypersonic aircraft and determining the parameters of nuclear explosions; introduction of the second stage of creation into the early warning system of the Unified Space System, thereby significantly increasing the combat capabilities.
But I believe that the main achievement is that over 50 years of continuous combat duty, the combat readiness of the early warning system has never been violated, and unreliable warning information about a missile attack has never been issued to the notified points of military and state administration.
- Tens of thousands of scientists, engineers, designers, industry representatives, and military personnel took part in the creation, development and operation of this unique system, which has been protecting our country from nuclear missile weapons for half a century. What would you say today to everyone involved in the creation and operation of this unique Missile Attack Warning System?
- I would like to express my gratitude from the bottom of my heart for the invaluable work, perseverance and endurance to everyone who created and developed the warning system.
It is obvious that the key to success is genuine love and dedication to the chosen cause, dedication and heroism of these people. And no one for a second had any doubts when creating the PRN System that the result of everything is victory!
Thank you, thank you very much for your hard work and dedication to your country, your cause and our domestic Missile Attack Warning System.