MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti military commentator Ilya Kramnik) - Russia's missile attack warning system (SPRN) will no longer use Ukrainian radars.
After the agreement between Russia and Ukraine was scrapped, radars in Sevastopol and Mukachevo stopped sending signals to Russia's command post on February 26, 2009.
The Ukrainian Dnepr-type radars will be replaced by the Volga-type radar in Baranovichi in Belarus and the Voronezh-DM radar in Armavir, Russia, inaugurated on February 26, 2009.
According to a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman: "The commissioning of an Armavir station solves the problem of safeguarding the country against a missile attack from the southern direction. The station is of the latest design and has extended capabilities."
The agreement was concluded in February 1997. The reason for the scrapping was the ageing of the Dnepr system, which Ukraine declared its property in 1992 but never upgraded.
Technical glitches often generated false alarms and noise mistaken for missile launches. Also, soured political relations between Russia and Ukraine became fraught with an unauthorized shutdown of these radars, which, unlike the radar in Gabala, Azerbaijan, operated by Russian officers and soldiers, are manned by Ukrainian servicemen. The issue took on added urgency when Ukraine said it wanted to join NATO.
Russia's SPRN system is developing rapidly - aside from the Armavir radar it opened a Voronezh-type station in Lekhtusi, Leningrad Region, recently. More radars are planned for other areas to replace ageing facilities: Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, as well as near Irkutsk and Pechora.
The new station's range is 6,000 kilometers: enough to detect the launch of an intercontinental missile at an early stage. Once such a launch is detected, the information is sent to the SPRN's command post and then to the country's leadership, who, in the event of a missile strike, orders a counter strike. The system is able to point the direction of the attack, the number of missiles launched and likely targets calculated from their paths. The response time is quick enough to prepare and carry out a launch under attack before the enemy's first warheads make a hit.
The Voronezh and Voronezh-DM stations are of modular design, making their maintenance, repairs and upgrading easy. They can pinpoint not only missiles, but also other flying craft, including space satellites.
The current SPRN system operates five radars within Russia (Murmansk, Pechora, Lekhtusi, Irkutsk and Armavir), one radar in Kazakhstan (Balkhash), one in Azerbaijan (Gabala) and one in Belarus (Baranovichi).
There is also a Don-2 radar located in the Moscow Region catering to the needs of the Moscow Region A-135 anti-ballistic missile system.
In addition to the radars, the system has a constellation of spacecraft in geostationary and highly elliptic orbits. According to current information, there are four SPRN satellites in orbit to detect early a launch of hostile intercontinental missiles.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.