space group of the Russian Aerospace Forces in the coming years

The launch of the Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with the Kosmos-2518 spacecraft – the second EKS satellite, May 25, 2017

Photo of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

On July 3, the Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper published an interview with the commander of the aerospace forces, Colonel-General Sergei Surovikin. He spoke about the current work on the development of all components of the videoconferencing, incl. space. At the same time, a number of projects of this kind are being implemented, and plans for them are planned for several years ahead.

Development plans

According to S. Surovikin, in September of this year it is planned to complete tests of the space communications complex based on Blagovest vehicles. These vehicles operate in geostationary orbit.

In 2022, it is planned to start the deployment of the advanced Unified Satellite Communication System of the Armed Forces of the third stage. In 2023, the launch of satellites of the high-orbit space reconnaissance system will begin.

The construction of the Unified Space Detection and Combat Control System is underway. The deployment of its group will be completed by 2024. As a result of these events, the Aerospace Forces will be able to carry out global control of the Earth’s surface. In addition, the EKS will increase the survivability of combat control systems in difficult situations.

Also, the commander-in-chief of the VKS noted the project of an auxiliary nature. In the interests of the space group, a unified command and measurement system “Topaz” is being developed. In the future, it will provide control of spacecraft in all types of orbits.

Control of the Earth's surface: space constellation of the RF Aerospace Forces in the coming years
The first product 14F149 “Blagovest” is being assembled. Photo by “ISS named after Reshetnev”

Communication through “Blagovest”

As follows from the new interview, in the near future all the necessary verification activities will be completed, as a result of which the full-fledged operation of communication satellites of the 14F149 Blagovest type will begin. Currently, there are four such products in geostationary orbit and are being tested before starting operation.

Product 14F149 was developed by the company “Information Satellite Systems named after Reshetnev “commissioned by the Ministry of Defense. It is based on a rather multipurpose platform “Express-2000”. As far as is known, foreign contractors were involved in the development and production of target equipment, but their share of participation was not disclosed. The Blagovest satellite has a mass of approx. 3.4 t and is equipped with a set of transponders for operation in the Ka and Q bands. The communication system based on Blagovest provides voice and video communication, as well as high-speed data transmission.

The first satellite of the series, Blagovest No. 11L or Kosmos-2520, went into orbit on August 17, 2017 from Baikonur. In 2018, spacecraft No. 12L and No. 13L were sent into space. The fourth launch took place on August 6, 2019. The grouping has reached the required size and can now be used in practice. The assigned service life of the satellites is 15 years.

Third generation

The development of the Unified Satellite Communication System of the third generation / third stage (ESSS-3) started in 2012. During that period, development work was launched on a number of components of the future system. As reported later, it was supposed to include spacecraft in geostationary and highly elliptical orbits, as well as ground complexes for various purposes.

According to known data, ESSS-3 should provide satellite communications and command and control of troops at different levels. It will support anti-jamming voice communications, data transmission, command and control, etc. A kind of ECCC-3 differs from previous systems by increased data transfer rates for all conditions.


On December 17, 2018, during a briefing by the Chief of General Staff with representatives of the military-diplomatic corps, for the first time, they showed the possible appearance of the Kupol satellite. Photo of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

The exact composition of ECCC-3 and the characteristics of individual elements are still unknown. The deployment of the space part of this system will begin in 2022, and it is hoped that during this period the Ministry of Defense will publish certain details.

Detection and combat control

Of particular importance for national security is the Unified Space Detection and Combat Control System, which is planned to be deployed by 2024. The CEN Kupol is a key component of the missile attack warning and strategic nuclear forces control system. Its appearance and full-fledged commissioning will dramatically increase the capabilities of the armed forces to identify and repel threats.

Earlier, the Russian early warning system used satellites of the Oko and Oko-1 systems. By the mid-tenths, they were out of order and required replacement. To restore the space echelon of the early warning system, the Ministry of Defense instructed RSC Energia and the Kometa corporation to develop a new satellite 14F142 Tundra.

The resulting product has all the necessary capabilities, and surpasses its predecessors in characteristics. Thus, the torch of a rocket launching is detected not only against the background of the atmosphere or space, but also above the ground. Tracking of the detected missile is provided with the calculation of the possible target area. The onboard equipment allows the Tundra to be used in communication and combat control systems for data exchange and issuing orders.

Initially, it was planned to start launching spacecraft in 2014 and by the end of the decade to put up to 10 units into orbit. In fact, the first launch of “Tundra” (“Cosmos-2510”) took place in November 2015. The last one at the moment is in May 2020. As a result, four spacecraft are operating in highly elliptical orbits. This is the minimum staffing level that allows solving the assigned tasks – tracking missile launches in the Northern Hemisphere and participating in data exchange. For the full functioning of the CEN, the Kupol must include nine active satellites. The remaining five will be launched into orbits by 2024.

Today and tomorrow

According to open data, now the Russian satellite constellation includes more than 150 military and dual-use products. According to various estimates, approx. two-thirds of this equipment belongs to the armed forces and is operated by VKS specialists.


General principles of operation of a satellite communication system with spacecraft of various types.
Figure Bastion-opk.ru

In recent years, there have been positive trends in the renewal and development of the group. A year ago, the Russian leadership disclosed interesting information on this matter. Thus, over six years (2013-19), the number of military and dual-use satellites has grown by 50%, and the share of new products has increased to almost 80%.

The development of the space group of the Aerospace Forces does not stop. Some projects are still at the stage of development work, in others, spacecraft launches have begun, and others are reaching an operational state. At the same time, work continues on promising programs in all major areas, from communications and command and control to reconnaissance and tracking a potential enemy.

It should be borne in mind that several existing satellite systems for various purposes remain in operation, but their future has already been determined. Due to the limited service life of the equipment, these systems will be gradually decommissioned – both as modern replacements appear and in connection with the failure of their satellites. However, the share of modern vehicles with a large resource reserve is constantly growing, which has a positive effect on the overall potential of the entire group.

In general, a lot has been done in recent years to create and restore the necessary capabilities in space. However, the work does not stop, and the VKS has to implement a number of new projects. Both the combat capability of the armed forces and the strategic security of the country depend on their successful completion.

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