The Krona system consists of a long-range detection radar and an optical tracking system. It is designed to identify and track satellites. The Krona system is able to classify satellites by type. The system consists of three main components:
- Decimeter radar with a phased array for target identification
- Centimeter-range radar with a parabolic antenna for target classification
- Optical system combining an optical telescope with a laser system
The Krona system had a range of 3200 kilometers and can detect targets in orbit at an altitude of up to 40,000 kilometers. The development of the Krona system began in 1974, when it was established that current spatial tracking systems could not accurately determine the type of satellite being tracked. The centimeter range radar system is designed for accurate orientation and guidance of the optical laser system. The laser system was designed to provide illumination for an optical system that captures images of monitored satellites at night or in clear weather.
The location for the Krona facility in Karachay-Cherkessia was chosen taking into account favorable meteorological factors and low dustiness of the atmosphere in this area. The construction of the Krona facility began in 1979 near the village of Storozhevaya in southwestern Russia. The object was originally planned to be placed together with an observatory in the Zelenchukskaya stanitsa, but fears about the creation of mutual interference with such a close arrangement of objects led to the resettlement of the Krona complex to the area of ??Storozhevaya stanitsa. The construction of capital facilities for the Krona complex in this area was completed in 1984, but factory and state tests dragged on until 1992.
Before the collapse of the USSR, it was planned to use MiG-31D fighter-interceptors armed with 79M6 Kontakt missiles (with a kinetic warhead) to destroy enemy satellites in orbit as part of the Krona complex. After the collapse of the USSR, 3 MiG-31D fighters went to Kazakhstan.
State acceptance tests were completed by January 1994. Due to financial difficulties, the system was put into trial operation only in November 1999. As of 2003, work on the optical laser system was not fully completed due to financial difficulties, but in 2007 it was announced that the Krona was put on combat duty.
Initially, during the Soviet era, it was planned to build three Krona complexes. The second Krona complex was supposed to be located next to the Okno complex in Tajikistan. The third complex began to be built near Nakhodka in the Far East. Due to the collapse of the USSR, work on the second and third complexes were suspended. Later, work in the Nakhodka area was resumed, this system was being completed in a simplified version. The system in the Nakhodka region is sometimes called the Krona-N, it is represented only by a decimeter radar with a phased antenna array. Work on the construction of the Krona complex in Tajikistan did not resume.
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