The emergence of ballistic missiles provided the strategic nuclear forces (SNF) with the ability to strike the enemy in the shortest possible time. Depending on the type of missile - intercontinental (ICBM), medium-range (IRBM) or short-range (BRMD), this time can be approximately from five to thirty minutes. At the same time, the so-called threatened period may be absent, since the preparation of modern ballistic missiles for launch takes minimal time and is practically not determined by reconnaissance means until the moment the missiles are launched.
In the event that the enemy delivers a sudden disarming strike to the defenders, either a retaliatory or retaliatory nuclear strike can be carried out. In the absence of information about the delivery of a sudden disarming strike by the enemy, only a retaliatory strike is possible, which imposes increased requirements on the survivability of strategic nuclear forces.
Earlier, we considered the stability of the air, ground and sea components of the strategic nuclear forces. In the foreseeable future, a situation may well develop when none of the components of the strategic nuclear forces will have sufficient survivability to ensure a guaranteed retaliatory strike against the enemy.
The air component is actually a first strike weapon, unsuitable for a retaliatory or even retaliatory counter strike. The naval component can be extremely effective in retaliatory strikes, but only on condition of ensuring the secrecy of the deployment and patrolling of strategic missile submarine cruisers (SSBNs), which can be questioned due to the total superiority of the enemy's naval forces (Navy). Worst of all, there is no reliable information about the secrecy of our SSBNs: we can assume that their secrecy is ensured, but in fact the enemy monitors all SSBNs on alert throughout the patrol route. The ground component is also vulnerable: stationary silos will not withstand a strike by modern high-precision nuclear warheads, and the issue of secrecy of mobile ground-based missile systems (PGRK) is the same as in relation to SSBNs. It is not known for certain whether the enemy "sees" our PGRK or not.
Thus, one can only count on a retaliatory oncoming strike. The key element that allows for a retaliatory strike is the missile attack warning system (EWS). Modern early warning systems of the leading powers include ground and space echelons.
Ground echelon early warning system
The development of the ground component of the early warning system, radar stations (radars), in the USA and the USSR started in the 50s of the XX century after the appearance of ballistic missiles. In the late 60s and early 70s, the first early warning radars entered service with both countries.
The first early warning radars were huge, occupied one or several buildings, were extremely difficult to build and maintain, had enormous energy consumption, and, accordingly, a significant cost of construction and operation. The detection range of the first early warning radars was limited to two to three thousand kilometers, which corresponded to 10-15 minutes of the flight time of ballistic missiles.
Subsequently, the monstrous Daryal radar was created with the ability to detect a target the size of a soccer ball at a distance of up to 6000 km, which corresponded to 20-30 minutes of ICBM flight time. Two radars of the "Daryal" type were built in the area of the city of Pechora (Komi Republic) and near the city of Gabala (Azerbaijan SSR). Further deployment of this type of radar was discontinued due to the collapse of the USSR.
In the Belarusian USSR, the Volga radar station was built, capable of detecting and tracking ballistic missiles and space objects with an effective dispersion surface (EPR) of 0.1-0.2 square meters at a range of up to 2000 kilometers (maximum detection range of 4800 kilometers).
Also in the early warning system is the Don-2N radar, the only one of its kind, created in the interests of the anti-missile defense (ABM) of Moscow. The capabilities of the Don-2N radar make it possible to detect small-sized objects at a distance of up to 3,700 km and at an altitude of up to 40,000 meters. During the 1996 Oderax international experiment to detect small space objects and space debris, the Don-2N radar was able to detect and build the trajectory of small space objects with a diameter of 5 cm at a distance of up to 800 kilometers.
After the collapse of the USSR, part of the radar station continued to work for some time in the early warning system of the Russian Federation, but gradually, as relations with the former republics of the USSR deteriorated and the material part became obsolete, the need arose for the construction of new facilities.
Currently, the basis of the ground component of the RF early warning system are modular radars of high factory readiness for meter (Voronezh-M, Voronezh-VP), decimeter (Voronezh-DM) and centimeter (Voronezh-SM) wavelength ranges. A modification of the Voronezh-MSM has also been developed, capable of operating in both the meter and centimeter ranges. Radars of the "Voronezh" type are to replace all early warning radars built in the USSR.
To protect against low-flying cruise missiles, early warning systems are supplemented with over-the-horizon radars (ZGRLS), such as over-the-horizon detection radars (ZGO radar) 29B6 "Container" with a low-flying target detection range of up to 3000 kilometers.
In general, the ground echelon of the RF early warning system is actively developing and it can be assumed that its effectiveness is quite high.
SPRN space echelon
The space echelon of the USSR early warning system, the Oko system, was commissioned in 1979 and included four US-K spacecraft located in highly elliptical orbits. By 1987, a constellation of nine US-K satellites and one US-KS satellite located in geostationary orbit (GSO) was formed. The Oko system provided the ability to control missile-hazardous areas of the US territory, and due to the highly elliptical orbit and some possible patrol areas of American nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles (SSBNs).
In 1991, the deployment of the new generation US-KMO satellites of the Oko-1 system began. The Oko-1 system was to include seven satellites in geostationary orbits, and four satellites in high elliptical orbits. In fact, eight US-KMO satellites were launched, but by 2015 they were all out of order. The US-KMO satellites were equipped with solar protective screens and special filters, which made it possible to observe the surface of the earth and the sea at an almost vertical angle, which made it possible to detect sea launches of submarine ballistic missiles (SLBMs) against the background of reflections from the sea surface and clouds. Also, the equipment of the US-KMO satellites made it possible to detect the infrared radiation of operating rocket engines even with a relatively dense cloud cover.
Since 2015, the deployment of the new Unified Space System (CES) "Tundra" has begun. It was assumed that ten satellites of the CEN "Tundra" will be deployed by 2020, but the creation of the system has been delayed.It can be assumed that the most important obstacle to the creation of the CSC "Tundra", as in the case of the satellites of the Russian global navigation satellite system (GLONASS), was the lack of domestic space electronics, while the imposition of sanctions on foreign components of this type. This task is difficult, but quite solvable, moreover, just for space electronics, it seems that the existing technological processes of 28 and more (65, 90, 130) nanometers are optimal for the Russian Federation. However, this is already a topic for a separate conversation.
It is assumed that satellites 14F112 EKS "Tundra" will be able not only to track the launches of ballistic missiles from land and water surfaces, but also calculate the flight path, as well as the area of impact of the enemy ICBM. Also, according to some reports, they must issue preliminary target designations to the missile defense system and ensure the transfer of commands to deliver a retaliatory or retaliatory nuclear strike.
The exact characteristics of the spacecraft 14F112 EKS "Tundra" are unknown, as is the current state of the system. Presumably, the satellites of the EKS "Tundra" are operating in test mode or are mothballed, the final time frame for the deployment of the system is unknown. Most likely, the space echelon of the RF early warning system is actually not operational at the moment.
The country's leadership pays considerable attention to the development of the early warning system of the Russian Federation. The ground echelon of the early warning system is actively developing, radars of various types are being built. Almost all-round control of missile-hazardous directions in terms of detecting high-altitude objects (ballistic missiles) at a distance of up to 6000 km has been ensured, ZGRLS for detecting low-flying targets (cruise missiles) at a range of up to 3000 km are under construction.
At the same time, the space echelon of the early warning system, apparently, is not functioning or is functioning in a limited mode. How critical is the absence of a space echelon of an early warning system?
The first most important criterion of the early warning system is the time during which an enemy strike will be detected. The second criterion is the reliability of the information provided to the leadership of the country for making a decision to launch a retaliatory strike.
It is unlikely that the enemy will decide on a sudden disarming strike against any one component, for example, the control and decision-making system. Most likely, the task will be to destroy all components of strategic nuclear forces with multiple overlap - the stakes are too high. By the way, the Perimeter system, also called the Dead Hand, is not considered in the article for this very reason: there will be no one to give the command if all the carriers are destroyed during the attack.
Regarding the first criterion, the time during which an enemy strike will be detected, the space echelon is the most important element of the early warning system, since the rocket engine torch will be seen from space much earlier than the missiles enter the coverage area of ground-based radars, especially when providing a global view of the space echelon of the early warning system. …
Regarding the second criterion, the reliability of the information provided, the space echelon of the early warning system is also critically important. In case of receiving primary information from satellites, the country's leadership will have time to prepare for the strike and its application / cancellation in the event that the fact of the strike is confirmed / denied by the ground echelon of the early warning system.
The practice of "not putting all your eggs in one basket" is quite applicable to the early warning system. The combination of satellites and ground-based radars makes it possible to receive information from sensors operating in fundamentally different wavelength ranges - optical (thermal) and radar, which practically excludes the possibility of their simultaneous failure. At the moment, there is no information about whether the enemy can influence the operation of the early warning radar, but such work may well be carried out.For example, offhand, it can be assumed that the HAARP project, one of the invariable objects of fans of conspiracy theory, or its analogues, may well be used not only to study the ionosphere, but also be considered as a means of reducing the effectiveness (read: detection range) of an early warning radar, primarily a line of ZGRLS, the principle of operation of which is based on the reflection of radio waves from the ionosphere. Or used to explore the possibility of creating systems that can do this.
Thus, the space echelon of an early warning system is extremely important, it provides both a margin of time for making a decision and increases the likelihood of the country's leadership making the right decision to deliver or cancel a nuclear retaliatory strike against the enemy. Also, the space echelon significantly increases the stability and survivability of the early warning system as a whole
It is necessary to understand that the situation with strategic nuclear forces and missile defense systems is not "static". On the one hand, we increase the survivability, security and effectiveness of strategic nuclear forces and early warning systems, on the other hand, the enemy is looking for ways to deliver an irresistible first strike. We will talk about the means by which the United States previously planned and may plan in the future to break into the missile defense system and the strategic nuclear forces of the Russian Federation in the next article.