In the spring of this year, it became known that the Russian navy had begun testing the Burak-M electronic warfare system for submarines. Since then, no new information has been received on the progress of the project; remain unknown and the main tactical and technical characteristics of the complex. However, this does not prevent the emergence of various versions and assessments, some of which in the end may turn out to be correct.
Product under test
According to various sources, the development of an electronic warfare complex with a special buoy “Burak-M” started in the mid-nineties. Subsequently, the work proceeded at a slow pace, which is why real results were obtained only to date. How the requirements and appearance of the product have changed over the years is unknown. Probably, the original project was deeply modernized taking into account the modern needs of the fleet.
In August 2018, it became known about the planned purchase of new type of buoys. The Ministry of Defense was going to purchase 10 complexes with a total cost of approx. RUB 30 million Half of the products were supposed to arrive in 2019, the rest in 2020. At the same time, the composition of the complex and the amount of certain components were not specified.
In March of this year, the domestic media reported the beginning of tests of “Burak-M”. Then it was reported that strategic missile carriers of projects 667BDRM “Dolphin” and 955 “Borey” will receive such equipment. Some technical details were also announced. These publications attracted attention in our country and abroad, which led to the emergence of new assessments and versions.
Buoy against communication
According to known data, the product “Burak-M” is part of a larger complex of means of protecting the submarine from the enemy’s anti-submarine weapons. The buoy is used with the Modul-D vertical launcher and, if necessary, is fired to the surface, where it starts to work
Electronic warfare equipment is installed on board the buoy to suppress enemy radio communication channels.
One of the main means of searching for submarines is currently the sonar buoys (RGAB) dropped by patrol aircraft and helicopters. Such products operate on the sea surface and maintain communication with their carrier or other components of the PLO system. “Burak-M” must suppress communication channels, as a result of which the RGAB cannot transmit information about the underwater situation or issue target designations.
In the case of anti-submarine aircraft, RGAB is the primary means of detecting underwater targets. Lacking data from such buoys, the patrol aircraft is unable to conduct further searches with sufficient efficiency. Accordingly, the overall indicators of both the aviation component of the ASW and the entire system as a whole are decreasing.
In the future, buoys of electronic warfare “Burak-M” will be included in the ammunition load of a number of domestic submarines and will help them hide from possible surveillance. It should be noted that such means of jamming will become the next element of a larger complex of measures to protect the submarine from enemy anti-aircraft missiles. Buoys will allow more flexible response to emerging threats.
In the wake of news about the start of the tests, several interesting publications appeared in the foreign press with attempts to analyze. Thus, The Drive reviewed the available data and made some conclusions, incl. affecting the development of foreign PLO.
It was noted that EW buoys are received by strategic missile submarines. These submarines are of particular importance for national security, and therefore it is they who are primarily equipped with new means of protection. Products “Burak-M” and other systems should ensure maximum stealth of the submarine during patrolling and preparation for launching missiles.
It also notes the need to use electronic warfare buoys on diesel-electric submarines of projects 636.3 and 677. Due to the impossibility of permanent stay under water and the need for regular surfacing, they are more vulnerable to enemy ASW. The consequence of this is the need for a developed complex of means of protection or camouflage.
The Drive recalls that in recent years, Russian submarine forces have increased their presence in the Atlantic and Arctic. In this regard, the United States and NATO countries are taking measures to strengthen anti-submarine systems. The basis of such measures is the active work of the patrol aviation, dropping the RGAB. The latter are required in large quantities, and their purchase is associated with large expenditures.
So, in the draft US defense budget for FY2021. the purchase of tens of thousands of buoys with a total value of $ 238 million was envisaged. They also demanded to reserve $ 26.2 million for additional orders of such products in the event of the start of unplanned operations. In the coming years, expenses for RSAB will remain approximately at the same level.
The authors of The Drive assumed that the US Navy and other countries will continue their current anti-submarine activities with the preservation of existing activities. At the same time, the fear was expressed that “Burak-M” would not be the last novelty in the field of countering anti-submarine weapons, and new products would follow.
Recently, the Chinese edition “Zhongguo Junwang” turned to the topic of electronic warfare buoys. It considered the general issues of detecting submarines and countering them, and also pointed out some of the characteristic features of the promising Russian “Burak-M”.
It is noted that the principle of operation of the electronic warfare buoy provides high potential and efficiency. The most common RGAB of our time have relatively low-power transmitters that do not provide high noise immunity. Thus, a buoy from a submarine will be able to effectively suppress the enemy’s PLO communications. Thanks to this, the submarine will be able to secretly escape.
At the same time, the proposed concept of application has a significant drawback. Having lost contact with sonar buoys, the enemy can determine the area where the source of interference is located. This, in turn, will show that a submarine with special equipment was present in this area – the search will be somewhat simplified.
At the moment, it is known about the existence of the “Burak-M” complex, as well as about its withdrawal for testing using unnamed submarines as experimental platforms. In addition, its general capabilities are known, but the tactical and technical characteristics remain a secret. New information is likely to emerge upon completion of ongoing activities.
It is curious that even on the basis of the limited available data, it is possible to draw some conclusions and determine the approximate prospects of a new sample. In addition, the prerequisites for its appearance and the possible consequences of widespread introduction and use are easily determined.
Also noteworthy is the fact that the Burak-M project did not go unnoticed abroad. So far, we are talking only about publications in various publications, but it cannot be ruled out that the fleets and developers of anti-submarine systems are showing the most serious interest in Russian development – and are already preparing to respond to such countermeasures.
In the meantime, while discussions continue at various levels, the Russian fleet is carrying out a program for testing new equipment. Thanks to this, in the near future, the submarine forces will increase their capabilities to counter the ASW of a potential enemy, and at the same time will improve the overall combat potential.