29B6 Konteyner Over The Horizon Radar (OTHR)
The commissioning of a Konteyner radar station in the Russian region of Mordovia east-southeast of Moscow in 2013 marked the completion of the latest part of Russia's program to patch up its radar surveillance coverage, which developed huge gaps after many of the Soviet radar stations were taken over by new states and many others fell into post-Soviet disrepair.
Adding to this is the fact that many of the Soviet Union's former allies are now in NATO. This means the holes in Russia's air and space defense system have to be closed. Hence the deployment of several Voronezh missile-detecting radars and now of the Konteyner radar.
The Container radar [Konteyner RLS] is an over-the-horizon unit built to detect all types of aerodynamic targets. The over-the-horizon station will be monitoring the airspace and detection of all types of aerodynamic targets, including planes, helicopters, drones and cruise missiles. The Container antenna field is a huge blanket of 144 masts as high as a 10-story building. This new radar station of the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces is capable of detecting air targets at a distance of 3000 km and is one of the means of intelligence and warning of air-space attack by the enemy. The signal bounces off the ionosphere like from a mirror, to see everything that is going on beyond the horizon.
In the future, one such radar ZGO will "see" all aerodynamic targets, including small-size aircraft at a distance of up to 3,000 km, with an azimuth of 240 degrees. The radar apparently uses new mathematical models that allow to determine the type of target in real time, without needing to calculate the entire flight trajectory. The deployed Container radar radio-technical unit includes a command post, a transmission and reception antenna and a communications and data-management unit. Russia is planning to deploy a network of Container-type radars to provide early detection of airborne threats over its entire territory and beyond its borders. Specific dates, the number of radar stations, their location and other details have not been disclosed.
Sergei Saprykin is the general designer of the NPK NIIDAR long-range radio communications research and production center, which is part of the RTI high-technology industrial concern.
Analogs of such stations worked at Chernobyl and Nikolaev in Ukraine, as well as in Komsomolsk-in-Amur. Three operational over-the-horizon radars for ballistic missile detection could provide additional long-range warning of the approach of high-flying aircraft. An over-the-horizon radar under construction in the Far East in the mid-1980s would provide long-range detection of aircraft from the Pacific Ocean.
The Soviet Union used the Duga ["Arc / Range"] over the horizon radar which reached 10,000 km. They were designed to detect missile launches from the territory of the United States. However, such stations are not allowed to specify the coordinates of the launch because the emitted beam was broken in the ionosphere. Today, going back to those giant antennas is impractical. The space Echelon missile attack warning system performs the task of detecting launches of ICBMS. But no space Echelon will perform the task of defining the air target coordinates.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, it became impossible to operate them, and in the early 1990’s came the idea of creating the next generation of over the horizon radar. By one account the program's development started in 2007, but evidently work began much earlier. The first OTH radar of this type was the Volna created for the Soviet VMF, entered service in 1990. The second was the Telets. Both serve with the Pacific Fleet, and have been used to track US Naval assets. Container was originally a mobile OTH radar, with ranges of 1000 to 2000 kms. The first buyers of the new generation of Russian OTH-RADAR became the Chinese. The first one started trials in 2000. Apparently new automated command and control systems for the VVS include the ability to receive information from Container.
A place to organize the first "Container" was chosen in 1995 on the basis of storage technology. Among the candidates considered Smolensk, Kapustin Yar, Tambov and the Republic of Kazakhstan. The decisive factors were the protected area in the country and loyal attitude of the local authorities, who identified the ground not only for the new radar station, but also for the construction of perspective objects within it. The first "Container" was tested and showed steady detection purposes at the beginning of the year 2000. But the Russian army did not adopt it. Restructuring, reform of the Armed Forces significantly delayed the process of creating the first radar.
A classical radar utilizes ultra-short radio waves or microwaves and therefore cannot see beyond the horizon. Long-wave radars, which can, are impractical because of their huge antennas and immense power appetites.
In the 1980s, the Soviet Union developed its Duga shortwave radars, which can see beyond the horizon due to the multiple reflection of short waves from the ground and the ionosphere. It positioned radars of this type near Komsomolsk-on-Amur in the Far East and near Chernobyl and Nikolayev in Ukraine. Unfortunately, the Chernobyl nuclear accident and the break-up of the Soviet Union put paid to the Duga program.
In the 1990s and the 2000s, the NIIDAR institute developed its Teletz, Volna, Podsolnukh and Laguna radars, which utilize the ability of short radio waves to travel beyond the horizon due to diffraction amid surface relief elements. These radars have proved to be quite useful in controlling Russia's 200-mile coastal economic zone.
And now comes the Konteyner, capable of detecting aircraft and missiles, both ballistic and cruise, at 3,000 kilometers away at altitudes of up to 100 kilometers. Its angular coverage is close to 180 degrees, allowing Russia to make do with a mere handful of such radars. Importantly, the Konteyner features a modular set-up, making it easy to assemble and easy to service.
Vladimir Putin held a meeting June 19, 2013 on implementing the 2011–2020 state arms procurement program, focusing on development of the technology base for air and space defence. Putin said "By 2015, our air and space defence troops’ arms must be no less than 50% modernised, and no less than 70% modern by 2020. These plans are being gradually implemented: the potential of the air and space defence forces has been bolstered by the brand new Voronezh-M and Voronezh-DM radar stations; the Pantsir-S anti-aircraft missile system has been adopted for use; S-400 systems are already being serially produced and delivered to troops; tests are underway on the Vityaz aerial defence anti-aircraft missile system, as well as the Konteyner and Nebo-M radar stations; the advanced S-500 system, which is capable of resolving problems even in near space, is under development."
The first "Container", according to some sources, was being tested in 2002 near the town of Gorodets. The station in Kovylkino was constructed in 2002 and before statement on watch passed tests. It should be noted that in Kovylkino it is placed reception and hardware parts of "container" while other equipment are near Forodts in the Nizhny Novgorod region.
Kovylkino city situated on the left bank of the river Moksha - tributary of the Oka, 100 km south-west of the capital of Mordovia Saransk. The oldest settlement on the site of the present city - Resurrection Lashma - was founded in 1237 during the invasion of the Tatars. Before the Revolution, the town was a major transportation hub. In 1919 it received its present name in honor of the Commissioner of Railways Stepan Kovylkino. It would have lived this modest provincial Mordvinian town life, if at the end of the 1990s the military did not come here and build roads. Since 2013, the whole world learned of the existence of Kovylkino.
The 590th separate radio-technical station was put on trial duty in Kovylkino, Mordovia, on 02 December 2013. Measures were taken in the period from May 1 through November 30 jointly with industry specialists to prepare the personnel and hardware of the 590th separate radio-technical station for the trial. The 590th separate radio-technical station was put on trial duty as part of a command post incorporating computing hardware, a transmission and reception complex, and a communication and data transfer complex.
The 29B6 Konteyner radar station took up skilled and fighting watch on December 2, 2013. It is located near the city of Kovylkino in Mordovia. It became the first in structure of armies of aerospace defense by the station intended for detection and determination of coordinates of air targets of various types at range more than three thousand kilometers. "container" entered into system of the prevention of aerospace attack.
The Konteyner complex built in Mordovia consists of several towers supporting big receiving antennas. The transmitter is located in the neighboring region of Nizhny Novgorod.
According to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the radar will allow Russia to expand its monitoring range and control over the situation “to the west." “I am ordering the commander of the Aerospace Defense Forces [Maj. Gen. Alexander Golovko] and other related command structures to ensure that the new radar becomes fully operational by the end of 2015," Shoigu said at a Defense Ministry meeting.
The next Konteyner station is to be built in the Russian Far East. Now in the far east construction of the second radar "container" is conducted. It is expected that he will get up on watch in 2018. In total, there should be as many as six by 2020.
The Konteyner system, based on similar Duga, is different from the other network radar "Voronezh" which is used for the observation of objects in space. Together with the Voronezh stations, they will forever close the radar surveillance gaps around the country's borders.
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