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Soviet and Russian radar systems have at least four designation systems. The design bureaux and production plants assign designators that take forms such as P-15 Trail, an alpha-numeric designator and a name. The Ministry of Defense assigns a GRAU index number, such as 1RL13. And the Western intelligence community assigns a two word reporting name [in all capital letters] such as FLAT FACE. All four of these designators reference one at the same radar. The names are fun, and some have a bit of descriptive meaning, while others do not. In the very early days of the Cold War, radars were given a single word name, such as TOKEN or GAGE.

It would be nice if there were a complete inventory of all four nomenclature systems, and a robust walk-across from one to another. In the real world, a list of Soviet/Russian radars is an inventory of loose ends. Some Soviet radars evidently escaped detection and identification by Western intellignce. Conversely, the Western intelligence reporting names really did not reference radar hardware, but rather radar signals, some of which could not be definitively attributed to a specific piece of Russian hardware. The physical attributes that would constitute interpretation keys would not have been visible to American satellite imagery until the middle years of the Cold War.

Over time, surely degree of re-attritution took place. The P-20 TOKEN early warning radar produced many upgrades during the 1950s, and by 1958 had evolved into the P-35 BAR LOCK. But some discussions of Soviet radar in the 1950s seemingly apply the TOKEN nomenclature to upgrades such as BAR LOCK.

SAM Radars

Experimental work in areas that later had relevance to radar began in Russia before the Revoution. Millimeter wave work appeared in Russia in 1913 with the work of Arkadiev. He used Hertz oscillators at an 11-mm wavelength in his research, which was interrupted by the Great War. In the late 1920's, Mme. A. Glagoleva-Arkadieva, following the initial work of W.Arkadiev, developed electromagnetic waves with so-called "mass radiators" in the 50-mm to 129-micron region. Research and development on radar during World War II were dramatic in their drive and purpose as spurred on by an omnipresent necessity for victory in the air.

Soviet early warning systems during World War II had relied primarily on visual and sound methods, although some radar equipment was apparently used. Still, the technology was available. In 1941, the Soviets had, in its completed state, their first known radar. The development for this radar took place at the University of Kharkov and later relocated to the Red Army Signal Labs at Hytischi. At this time, another Soviet group, the Leningrad Development Group, was working on a C-W Doppler operating at about 50 MHz.

During the later years of the war, the Soviets received samples and/or significant information on most major US and British radars which were in operation. This included the U.S. SCR-584 fire control radar, the British searchlight control radar "Elsie," and the U.S. types SCR-545, 527/627, 582/682, 602. Possession or knowledge of these radars enabled the Soviets to produce similar models of their own. The control or knowledge of these radars proved to be the means for the late wartime and post war Soviet radars.

The Soviets, as a result of the Great Patriotic War, were painfully aware of the limitations of their offensive and defensive systems. This, combined with the known offensive potential of the West, dictated that the Soviets place high priority on air defense. The Soviets decided that their wartime approach to early warning was clearly inadequate. Indeed, it was necessary to greatly expand the use of radar equipment of various kinds. A particular concern, during World War II, was how to combat massed enemy flights at night under the conditions of the use of radio and radar interference.

In post-war analysis, the Soviets noted that the need for early warning was a lesson which should have been learned earlier, after observing the German offenses against Poland, Norway, and France. But it was a lesson which they did not heed sufficiently. This was evidenced by the German surprise air attack on June 22, 1941, in which the Soviets lost some 1,200 aircraft while simultaneously sustaining many losses to all other border air defense forces. In relation to the defense of so vast an area (USSR), the efforts of interceptors must obviously be closely coordinated with a highly efficient early warning system. Russia saw this flaw in her defenses and made strenuous efforts to improve the situation.

From their experience in the Great Patriotic War, the Soviets determined that they would need an integrated, radar-based early warning system. This led to the fielding of an extensive radar early warning system by 1950. Soviet research, after a period of time to assimilate foreign technology and as a response to the increasing bomber threat, showed a marked increase in new or improved radar systems from 1952 to 1955.

The Soviets during the first ten years of the post-war period were concerned with development and deployment of an operational radar system. For the most part, supporting radar designs were derived from information gained through lend-lease, the capture of foreign systems and from German assistance. There appeared little overall structure to Soviet radar development during the first post-war decade. However, when the 1945–1955 period is considered in conjunction with the 1956–1972 period, four basic families of air control and warning can be delineated : Metric Radars, Ground Controlled Intercept Radars, Height Finders, and Modern Acquisitioned/Early Warning.

Soviet Radars Soviet Radars Soviet Radars Soviet Radars

There were three primary sets in use by 1950: RUS-2, Pegmatit, and Dumbo. RUS-2 was a highly mobile ground radar developed early in the World War II period. The complete equipment consisted of two trucks or one truck and a trailer. One vehicle contained the radar equipment and its operators, the other housed the generators. In addition to its high degree of mobility and aptness for concealment, the RUS-2 was a very simple form of radar and already obsolete by Anglo-American standards during the 1945–1950 period. The primary disadvantages of the RUS-2 were its inaccuracy in measurement of range and bearing, its lack of height-finding capability, and its poor range against low-flying aircraft.

The Pegmatit was the first relatively static radar installation; although a trained team should be able to dismantle and reerect it on another site in a matter of days.135 The radar was generally placed inside of a building or house with an aerial array protruding through the roof or nearby ground.

Dumbo was the third major radar system at this time. The Dumbo radar was first reported in 1946 and represented an improvement over the RUS-2 (1943) in range and accuracy. Although not mobile the set was easily transportable. This set was also easily concealable and was often erected in wooded areas with only aerials clear of the tree tops. Dumbo proved to be the primary post–World War II early warning radar. However, this system was quickly followed by a family of radars characterized by metric frequency, the use of Yagi antenna, goniometric techniques and nearly identical transmitters.

By late 1951 Token, the next radar system to develop, stood out as the beginning of a generation of Soviet-built radars. This generation consisted of two subgroups, V-beam radars, and multisearch radars. By mid-1952, at least 50 V-beam radars, were spread across the U.S.S.R. and surrounding satellites from East Germany to Vladivostok. This radar was obviously inspired by the U.S. AN/CPS-6 V-beam set. Although not provided for or available under the lend-lease program, it was contained in the MIT series. This set was constructed with IAGC and FIC circuitry: basic ECCM features which produced a limited capability against long pulse jamming and jamming with low modulation frequencies.

During the post-1950 period, Scan Odd was developed with German technical assistance. This was the first Soviet AI radar with limited all-weather capability. This set became field operational and was deployed in 1954. Knife Rest A and GAGE, a Soviet designed EW and surveillance radar mounted on a bunkered building, made their appearance in 1952. The oldest radar in the Soviet inventory with the strict purpose of early warning, Knife Rest A had limited accuracy and detection capabilities, but was inexpensive and easily maintained. Knife Rest A was found to operate in the 70–80 MHz frequency range. Gage proved to be the first really permanent radar of any significance that was employed by the Soviets as a search finder.

In 1953, a height finder was produced by the Soviets. This radar (Patty Cake) did not follow the usual Soviet development pattern—because it was uniquely Soviet in design—not a copy of Western technology. This was contrary to the pattern followed in the V-beam early warning radar (Token) and firecontrol radar (Whiff) which were directly derived from Western radar technology. Patty Cake remained the sole Soviet operational height finder from 1953 to 1956. Although the Soviet Union and the Soviet satellites were still using U.S.-made and British-made radars, in addition to the Soviet-made copies of U.S. and British radars.

By 1953, initial post war early warning had been strengthened by wide-scale deployment of the Token radar. This directly complemented the growth of jet fighters as the dominant and most significant part of the Soviet air defense forces. Soviet radars provided warning and made the fighter more effective by facilitating intercept. In 1954, the number of Token radars increased markedly. Soviet technicians were clearly more successful at maintaining them at an operational level than the U.S. had initially anticipated. The difficulties that the United States had expected the Soviets to encounter were based on U.S. experiences with the AN/CPS-6, a similar radar. It was found, however, that the basic design of the Token radar was considerably simpler.

Observations during the 1954 time period showed that the Soviets were developing a radar system that made concurrent use of two sets as a single unit. The most commonly used sets were GAGE (search finder) and Patty Cake (height finder). The advantages of this system, in relation to Token, proved to be:

  1. Less complicated installation
  2. Simpler maintenance and operation
  3. Increased range and height finding capabilities.

The Soviets took this one step further by building radar installations with four radars. These radars were situated in pairs with Gage and Patty Cake comprising each pair. This represented a movement away from the mobile V-beam, Token, to a static system of radar defense.

By 1955, the Scan Can radar system was developed for use on missile armament. It is believed that this system was developed from Scan Odd. The nodding height finder was also introduced in 1955, apparently to provide reasonably accurate altitude readings on modern manned aircraft.

By 1955, the system afforded continuous coverage in depth for the entire country apart from the least vulnerable portions of the national frontier. It also encompassed Eastern Europe. Soviet doctrine derived from the World War II experience against the combined arms teams of the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe. It is interesting to note that the Soviets and their allies doctrinally placed what might be considered an inordinate amount of effort into air defense: enormous numbers of interceptor aircraft, extensive radar ground control intercept (GCI) netting, antiaircraft artillery (AAA) guns in massive numbers, and, more recently, surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). The Soviets started to build this massive air defense umbrella well before the USAF started elaborate electronic countermeasures, and only after providing themselves with a truly impressive set of capabilities did they acquire an offensive air capability to complement their traditional ground offensive power.

During the late 1950s, space came into play in the EW world. The US Moonbounce program collected radiation from Soviet radars after it was reflected from the surface of the moon and back to the Earth. A number of these observations were able to provide useful intelligence to the US, unknown by the Soviet Union.

The American experience in Vietnam showed USAF planners the emerging trend of the expanding threat from Soviet radar detection and radar guided missiles. The constant threat of the more sophisticated and extremely capable radar/missile complexes grew in priority in mission planning. However, it was the Yom Kipper War in October 1973 that proved the catalyst needed to bring the emerging American stealth technology into the forefront of interest and to finally provide the impetus that would result in their emergence as operational systems. The vulnerability of U.S. aircraft to the new and expanding Soviet air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles and their companion radar was a disturbing fact of life. Many of the frontline Israeli fighter aircraft shot down in the Yom Kipper War were the frontline aircraft of their Allies. They were falling victim to the front line Soviet radars at an alarming rate.

By 1980, PVO-Strany’s defenses included a geographically distributed Soviet force of about 10,000 surface-to-air missile launchers, 2500 dedicated interceptor aircraft, and a network of 7000 ground radars. Whether US bombers could penetrate to their targets was the subject of much detailed simulation and analysis. Results varied widely and be dependent on the assumptions made about the success of low-level flight, the destruction of Soviet defenses by bomber-carried SRAMs or surviving US ICBM/SLBMs, the efficacy of Soviet internetting of their air defense resources and the "frictions" of war. Of all the US nuclear attack systems, however, the Soviets possibly felt most secure about defense against the bomber.

By the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had deployed several tiers of defense radars, each tier having a different frequency and geographical coverage. Stealth (or low observables, as it was called by the original practitioners) offered the Americans a new and revolutionary approach for penetrating the burgeoning growth of the Soviet defensive system of an integrated radar network.

Unlike Cold War–era designs, many of the current VHF-band designs are mobile self-propelled systems, and some qualify as genuine “shoot and scoot” designs. Stealth designs are optimized for countering medium to high frequency bands fire control radars. Low frequency band acquisition radars VHF/UHF/L-band wavelength is comparable to aircraft parts (wings, stabilators), so scattering enters Mie or resonance region (max RCS). RAM is less effective at low frequencies, and VHF radars cannot be detected by HARM or Harpy weapons.

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Page last modified: 25-10-2021 17:30:55 ZULU