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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Baranovichi [Gantsevichi] - 70M6 Volga

The Pechora-type large phased array radar (LPAR) at Baranovichi in Belarus commenced construction in 1985, according to Western sources. According to some news reports (NY Post 5 Dec 86), the facility was one of three radars of this type the construction of which was initially detected by Western intelligence in 1986. Public reports did not differentiate this Volg radar from the other Daryal radars. The facility remained incomplete at the end of the Cold War. The radar was intended to detect ballistic missiles launched from western Europe, the north and central Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and to conduct space surveillance.

The radar site is located a few dozen kilometers from the old border fortifications belt. Along the highway which runs along the old Soviet-Polish border is a reinforced defence site of pre-war construction. At the center of the site there is a 10-m high command tower with an armored top for observation. Around it are smaller reinforced concrete fortifications mounted at lower levels.

The first experimental Volga radar was initially planned to be built near Biysk, in Altai Territory. However in 1983 the US began deployment of the Pershing missiles in Germany. A search was undertaken for a more militarily useful location in the Grodno-Brest-Pinsk-Minsk quadrangle. In 1983 the Gantsevichi settlement was chosen, located approximately 50 km to the south-east of Baranovichi. A railway station, highway, water sources, and electric supply were located nearby. Additional Volga radar stations were planned for deployment near Sevastopol and Komsomolsk-na-Amure.

In 1986, around the village. Gantsevichi (48 km southeast of the town of Baranovichi) began the construction of a radically new solid-state digital radar "Volga". The station was to track the launches of ballistic missiles at a range of 4,800 km, ie throughout Europe. Data on the state of airspace from the "Volga" goes to the Central Command and Computing Center of the Early Warning System. Construction of the station started near Gantsevichi in the mid-1980's, with completion planned for 1989, but the deadline was subsequently delayed. Some of the equipment was installed at the station, and in December 1994 it began transmission for the first time. The station was only partially operational, and not outfitted up to the standard design. Even in this incomplete configuration, the radar was able to track targets at ranges up to 4,800 km.

Under the Russian-Belorussian intergovenmental agreement that was concluded on 06 January 1995 and signed in Minsk by Russian Federation Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov and Belorussian Prime Minister Mikhail Chigir, the station, which is designated in documents as the Baranovichi installation, was to be turned over to the ownership of Russia for a 25-year period and exempted from all types of taxes. The document was signed over the objections of Belarsian Foreign Minister Vladimir Senko, who sought economic concessions and a preferential price for Russian oil and gas for Belarus.

In 1997, the Volga station, along with other Missile-Space Defense Force assets, was moved from the Air Defense Forces to the Strategic Missile Forces. The Russian Defense Ministry and Strategic Missile Forces have decided to make the station operational, with the support of the Belarussian government.

To plug the hole in the Western sector, the military command speedily put back into service and licked into shape the Volga RS at Gantsevichi, Belarus. It emerged as a priority after 1998: completed in a rush, the radar was put on combat duty in 2000. RIA Novosti reported in 2012 that this radar had been under construction since 1981 with an eye to meeting the challenge posed by U.S.-owned Pershing-2 missiles. But after the signing of the Treaty on the Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (1987), it was no longer urgently needed to have the station and the project was allowed to drift.

By 1999, the station was ready for 95%. On December 15, 1999, in accordance with the plan approved by the commander-in-chief of the Strategic Missile Forces, preliminary (design) tests of the Volga radar station were started in Baranovichi. In the course of the first day of the tests, the combat questions worked out the issues of integrated control of the radar station and tested the methods for assessing the technical characteristics of the radar.

In August 1999 it was announced that Russia would refurbish this radar and put it back in service in 2000 a key component of joint Belarusian-Russian defenses against a missile attack. This would fill the perhaps 85% of the hole in Russia's early warning network created by the loss of Skrunda, which was being filled in the interimr by Russian ABM facilities in Sofrino and Chekhov outside Moscow.

To complete the construction the radar station would require a substantial expenditure. Therefore, in the initial phase, the station was to be commissioned in a "cut-down" variant. An unexpected problem for the station's developer, the Moscow Scientific Research Institute of Long-Range Radar Communications (NIIDAR) was created by one of the subcontractors. The Dnepropetrovsk Machine-Building Plant refused for a while to fulfil the contract, demanding that the price paid be increased four-fold.

In December 1999, Moscow ratified a treaty to form a loose union with Minsk. The two countries agreed in the spring of 2000 to upgrade the Baranovichi radar and make it operational. The rebirth of Volga began when it became part of the Strategic Missile Troops. Funds were obtained, previous debts to designers and builders paid off, and the remaining equipment ordered. Assembly of equipment began again in the structures for the radar's transmitting and receiving systems. Tests of the Volga radar of the missile attack warning system started in September 2000.

The execution of the test program continued with the launch of the radar station for experimental and combat duty in 2000. In the same year, she will be put on full alert duty. As Colonel-General Vladimir Yakovlev, Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Missile Forces, said, the station in Baranovichi should not only restore a single radar field in the western and north-western directions after the elimination of the SRNR station in Skrund, but also make it more efficient and reliable. According to him, "there has been no significant reduction in combat effectiveness." The "Volga" radar station was expected to enhance Russia's defensive capabilities that were significantly reduced after Moscow scrapped a similar facility at Skrunda in late 1998. The new radar system was designed to monitor Russia's western borders and detect missiles launched from Europe and the Atlantic Ocean. Although it was initially announced that the radar would become operational by the end of 2000, tests continued in fall 2001, when it was anticipated that the station would be put into operation by the end of the year.

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Page last modified: 25-04-2018 16:36:49 ZULU