Preparations for the launch of the carrier rocket with the third satellite “Tundra”, September 26, 2019 Photo by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
Currently, the basis of the Russian missile attack warning system (EWS) is ground-based radar stations of several types. Current plans for its development provide for the recreation of a group of spacecraft capable of tracking rocket launches and providing data on them. Recently it became known that the “Kupol” integrated space system (EKS) under construction has reached the minimum staffing level.
On June 4, TASS, citing its source in the defense industry, announced the next step in the deployment of the Kupol. So, on May 22, a new launch took place at the Plesetsk cosmodrome, during which the Tundra-type spacecraft, already the fourth in its series, was launched into the calculated orbit.
Four such products make up the minimum standard configuration of the EKS “Kupol”, which ensures the solution of the assigned tasks. The system is now capable of tracking and reporting ballistic or space missile launches in the United States and other regions.
The “Tundra” series vehicles are on duty in the indicated orbits and monitor the situation in the northern hemisphere of the planet. According to the news of the recent past, new launches should take place in the near future with the commissioning of more spacecraft. The dates of such starts are not named.
Loss and construction
In 1991-2012. Eight warning satellites from the Oko-1 system were launched into orbit. In 1996, this system went on alert and replaced the older Oko. Spacecraft in high elliptical and geostationary orbits could track missile launches on the continental territory of a potential enemy and in the patrol areas of his submarines.
Start. Photo of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
In 2014 it became known that the main part of the Oko-1 satellites is no longer functioning, and the rest can work only a few hours a day. By the beginning of 2015, all vehicles were out of order, and the Russian early warning system was left without a space echelon. As is now known, ground-based radars for the next few years became the only means of detection and warning.
By the time the Oka-1 operation was completed, work had begun on the fundamentally new Kupol EKS. The first launch of its 14F142 Tundra satellite was originally planned for the end of 2014, but has shifted by almost a year. By the end of the decade, it was planned to send up to a dozen vehicles into orbit, however, these plans had to be revised. At the moment, only four satellites have been put into operation – the minimum staffing.
The first launch of “Tundra” (“Cosmos-2510”) took place on November 17, 2015 with the aid of the “Suz-2.1b” launch vehicle from the Plesetsk cosmodrome. On May 25, 2017, the second spacecraft “Cosmos-2518” was launched. The third satellite (“Cosmos-2541”) was launched on September 26, 2019, the last launch at the moment took place on May 22.
New launches are expected in the near future. To obtain all the necessary capabilities in orbits, it is necessary to place nine Tundra products. It is also possible to use a backup device that, if necessary, can replace a failed one. According to the news of the recent past, the formation of the full grouping will last until 2022-23.
The EKS Kupol is being built on the basis of the 14F142 Tundra spacecraft. The development of this satellite was carried out within the framework of cooperation between RSC Energia and the Kometa corporation. The first created a space platform, the second – a payload module with target equipment. Other organizations were involved in the project as developers of individual units.
Spacecraft 73D6 from the Oko systems. Figure vpk.name
The exact tactical and technical characteristics of the “Tundra” are classified, but its general capabilities are known – as well as advantages over satellites of previous generations. New components and devices used on 14F142 provide a solution to several tasks at once in the context of attack warning and strategic nuclear forces control.
The Tundra product is launched into a highly elliptical orbit with a maximum altitude of 35,000 km. Four satellites on duty are in different orbits, located at an angle to each other. The orbits are selected in such a way that the minimum staffing of the Kupol ensures reliable tracking of the Northern Hemisphere. Accordingly, the new satellites will make it possible to search for missiles all over the planet.
The Tundra uses modern infrared observation devices with increased sensitivity and accuracy. They are capable of fixing the rocket engine torch both against the background of outer space or the atmosphere, and against the background of the earth. The satellite is capable of detecting the launch of a large intercontinental missile or a compact operational-tactical missile with a lower engine power.
The new spacecraft can not only detect the fact of launch, but also monitor the flight of the rocket in its early stages. In this case, the flight trajectory is calculated and the approximate area of the fall of the warhead is determined. This information is transmitted to ground-based early warning systems and is used in further calculations.
The design of the US-K apparatus from the Oka. Figure Dfnc.ru
“Tundra” is equipped with a combat control system. With the help of such satellites, echelons of early warning and missile defense systems can exchange data and orders, incl. on the use of weapons.
Until 2014, the Russian early warning system included a space echelon in the form of an early warning system “Oko-1” and a set of ground-based radars of various types. Then the space constellation went out of order – but the operation of the existing radars and the construction of new ones continued. At the same time, a new EKS “Kupol” was being formed, although these works were not distinguished by high rates.
A few weeks ago, another Tundra spacecraft went into orbit, providing the minimum working configuration for the Kupol system. Thus, now at the disposal of the Russian air defense and missile defense forces there is a full-fledged early warning system with space and ground echelons, complementing each other.
It is not only about simply restoring previously lost opportunities, but also about gaining new ones. As before, now the early warning system includes satellites and ground-based radars. However, these are products and complexes of new models with higher characteristics, other functions and increased efficiency. The overall efficiency of an early warning system directly depends on the characteristics of stations and spacecraft.
Modern radar early warning system “Voronezh-DM”. Photo of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
Thus, modern radars of several projects of the Voronezh family are based on modern components and show high performance. At the same time, they are distinguished by simplicity and speed of construction. It is especially important that now all radars are located only on Russian territory, and our early warning system does not depend on third countries. New satellites, in turn, can not only determine the very fact of the launch, but also provide additional data on targets.
In its current form, the Russian early warning system is capable of detecting missile launches earlier and almost immediately identifying possible targets, and then tracking the flight and issuing target designations. First of all, this increases the available time for analyzing the situation and developing a response. The potential of anti-missile defense is also growing, receiving new means of destruction.
Thus, the construction and modernization of systems responsible for the strategic security of the country continues. The restoration of an efficient space constellation, now capable of solving its tasks, is another important event in this area. The Russian armed forces can again monitor the strategic nuclear forces of a potential enemy from space, and this helps to strengthen the defense.