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Il-20 Coot A

The Il-20M (ASCC name Coot A) was designed for intelligence gathering with its distinguishing features being the Igla-1 phased-array SLAR (Side-Looking Airborne Radar) pod under the forward fuselage, housings for A-87P LOROP cameras and the Romb 4 sigint system. Two antennas also protrude from the top of the fuselage for the Vishnaya communications intelligence gathering system. It is flown by a crew of five accompanied by eight mission specialists. The prototype, a converted Il-18D, first flew on March 25, 1968, and was followed by 20 new-build aircraft. Most of these have been seen in an overall grey scheme, though some sport Aeroflot livery and a civilian registration.

By the 1980s the Soviets began to consider systems of a recconnaisance-strike complex [gazvedivatel'no-udarnyy kompleks]. The Soviets had become increasingly preoccupied with the problem of how to neutralize or destroy NATO nuclear delivery systems before they can be used against advancing Soviet/Warsaw Pact forces. However, the Soviet offensive can be successful if not only NATO's nuclear systems, but also ground-based command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3M) systems and various air and air defense assets are neutralized. The steady improvements in mobility, range, and destructive power of various weapon platforms used by NATO was bound to complicate, and complicate greatly, the Soviet problem of how to neutralize or destroy them at the very outset of hostilities, and in the course of combat on the ground.

Air reconnaissance would support the uninterrupted control of Soviet strike complexes. This type of reconnaissance can obtain quickly the results of strikes by one's own troops and forces, select targets for subsequent actions, and carry out final reconnaissance of the targets of the strike. Air reconnaissance must ensure rapid acquisition of prospective targets and precise determination of their position and basic characteristics. It also must provide target designation to one's own strike complexes. At the same time onboard reconnaissance sensors and tactical procedures must allow the aircraft's crews to carry out continuous surveillance and timely transmission of data to the higher command.

The uninterrupted reconnaissance and engagement of all enemy firing means before they are used was one of the most important prerequisites for the successful outcome of one's own actions. The task of air reconnaissance, in general, is to detect enemy troops in staging areas and during movement, the location of nuclear delivery systems, artillery firing positions, and engineering structures on the ground, and the location of command posts, electronic sensors, and rear area installations.

Aircraft can reconnoiter large areas in a very short period of time, using diverse reconnaissance methods. For example, by flying at a certain altitude and using radio-technical means, an aircraft can reconnoiter an area 600-800 kilometers wide and 350- 400 kilometers deep. By using cameras, modern reconnaissance aircraft can reconnoiter an area as large as 250,000 square kilometers. By visual observation, accuracies of 30-100 meters can be attained, while photo reconnaissance provides accuracy identical to a large-scale topographic map. However, in the European theater visual aerial reconnaissance from an altitude from 25,000-30,000 meters is possible only 15-20 days per year. Hence, the majority of reconnaissance aircraft will be used for lowaltitude reconnaissance.

For lateral penetration of the enemy's defense area, side-looking airborne radar (SLAR) is used. The reconnaissance fighter Foxbat and Il-20 Coot-A are equipped with radar capable of reconnoitering an area up to 150 kilometers behind the FLET. Soviet reconnaissance aircraft, specifically Foxbats and Fitters, are also equipped with TV/Side Scan Data Link with almost no time delay. By using multiple sensors they can penetrate darkness and foliage. These aircraft can reconnoiter the location of enemy combat vehicles.

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Page last modified: 13-11-2016 18:56:39 ZULU