MOSCOW. (Military commentator Alexander Bogatyryov for RIA Novosti) - A state-of-the-art Voronezh meter-band radar is to enter trial combat duty at Lekhtusi in the Leningrad Region on Friday. The importance of the event, which will be graced by the presence of Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, is plain to everyone.
The new radar is a key part of Russia's early warning system, although some liken it to the country's all-seeing space eye.
The new facility will reintegrate the national early-warning system in the northwestern sector, disrupted seven years ago by the phasing out of the Russian station near Skrunda, Latvia.
But the Lekhtusi radar is not just another addition to the system. It represents an entirely new and more advanced generation of Russian radars. It takes less time and effort to build than its predecessors and for this reason is called a station with a high degree of prefabrication. This means that all its elements are pre-packaged in containers at its place of manufacture to be later re-assembled and readied for operation on site.
The result is that while earlier facilities took 5 to 10 years to build, the Voronezh facility required just eighteen months. Only a year ago, there was just a small amount of radio-electronic equipment at Lekhtusi, and the antenna was only one-third complete. Tests were just beginning. Now all components of the station are fully deployed, information exchanges are well established, and the crews of the radio engineering center are practically on trial combat duty.
The new radar also has better operating characteristics. For example, it consumes one-third as much electric power as the Dnepr radar and one-seventh as much as the Daryal. Compared with other stations, Voronezh is run by fewer staff. On the whole, it cuts maintenance and operating costs by 40%.
Moreover, the facility at Lekhtusi is able to adapt quickly to new conditions by changing only some of its equipment modules. Depending on the situation, the radar can either detect intercontinental warheads or monitor intermediate- and short-range missile launches. No fundamental or long-term realignment is required.
Its environmental standards have also been improved: the intensity of the electromagnetic field around it is much lower than the allowed maximum.
A similar station, only in the decimeter band, is going up near Armavir. It is scheduled to enter service next year, ending Russia's dependence on its radars located abroad, particularly the Daryal facility in Azerbaijan and two Dnepr stations in Ukraine. It is also worth mentioning that nine new Lira-T radars have been built in the Far East.
"We will do all we can to ensure that our early-warning system functions under all conditions and our radar coverage has no gaps in any strategic sector of the air or space," Ivanov said during his recent visit to Lekhtusi. He was not being glib.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.