Tag Archives: Sozvezdiye

How Good Is Russian Electronic Warfare? (Part I)

There’s been a slow accumulation of hysteria about this in the West since Russia’s invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine.  Naturally, the Russians didn’t sit on their hands while the U.S. focused exclusively on fighting insurgents and IEDs for more than a decade.

But how much of the Russian EW threat is real and how much imagined?

Let’s turn to Aleksey Ramm who grappled with the question in a two-part article for VPK.  Photos were added along with the translation.

“Electronic Warfare — Myths and Facts — Part I”

“How unique are Russian Army EW systems?”

“Recently Russian electronic warfare systems have acquired the aura of some kind of super weapon, capable, according to average opinion, of causing panic in the probable enemy with the flip of just one switch.”

“It all began with the flight of an Su-24 frontal bomber over the American destroyer ‘Donald Cook’ described in practically all Russian media, during which the Russian aircraft supposedly employed its newest ‘Khibiny’ system.  Its effect on the ship’s electronic equipment almost caused panic leading to the mass resignation of sailors and officers from the ‘Cook.’  Later a photograph appeared on the Internet allegedly of a memorial coin (according to other data — a medal), noting this historic overflight, and on its back side was inscribed ‘Lesson of Peace.’”

“Why did ‘Khibiny’ eat up ‘Cook’?”

“The story of the ‘Donald Cook’ hadn’t quieted down when on 4 August of this year the blog defensenews.com published an article Electronic Warfare: What US Army Can Learn From Ukraine (‘Radioelectronic Warfare:  What Lessons the US Army Can Take From the Ukrainian Conflict’) by author Joe Gould (Dzho Guld), where it’s asserted that the Russian Armed Forces have made a significant jump in the realm not only of developing electronic warfare systems, but in their use, that demonstrates, in the author’s opinion, that a lag has started to take shape for the American military on this issue.”

“We can’t forget that one of the leading developers and producers of Russian electronic warfare systems — Kontsern Radioelectronic Technologies (KRET) is currently conducting an aggressive PR campaign supporting its products.  It’s sufficient to recall that in the media more and more often we hear headlines:  ‘KRET has presented a unique jammer for long-range radar surveillance aircraft,’ ‘Jamming system reliably defends troops from enemy artillery fire’ and the like.”

“Thanks to such popularity of EW it’s not only specialized publications, but even the general media announcing that EW equipment ‘Krasukha-2,’ ‘Krasukha-4,’ ‘Rychag,’ ‘Infauna’ is entering the Russian Army inventory…  And to be honest, it’s fairly difficult even for a specialist to sort things out in this flow of names.”

Krasukha-2 (photo: Nevskii-bastion.ru)

Krasukha-2 (photo: Nevskii-bastion.ru)

“But how effective are the Russian electronic warfare systems being presented and how well is EW organized?  We’ll try to answer these questions.”

“Priority on EW”

“The following fact attests that Russia’s military-political leadership is paying close attention to the development of electronic warfare systems:  the 15th Independent Electronic Warfare Brigade (Supreme Main Command) appeared back in April 2009.  It’s notable that according to some data — besides the 15th obr REB there are only two brigades carrying the title Supreme Main Command in the RF Armed Forces (one engineering and one RKhBZ), but according to other data — it is still the only such brigade of the VGK¹ in the Russian Army.”

“Currently the 15th Brigade, which was earlier based in the Tula oblast town of Novomoskovsk and received its combat banner in accordance with an April 2009 presidential decree, has transferred to [the city of] Tula.  We should note that this formation has been outfitted with the most modern electronic warfare systems, including the still secret [sic] communications suppression system ‘Murmansk-BN’ and ‘Leyer-3’ aerial jamming system.”

Murmansk-BN (photo: www.seyminfo.ru)

Murmansk-BN (photo: http://www.seyminfo.ru)

“Besides the brigade of the Supreme Main Command, since 2009 independent electronic warfare centers have been formed in every military district.  True, the majority of them are currently being reformed into independent electronic warfare brigades.  The exception consists only of the recently formed EW center in the Crimea, subordinate to the Black Sea Fleet command.”

Leyer-3 Mounted on Orlan-10 UAV (photo: Mil.ru)

Leyer-3 Mounted on Orlan-10 UAV (photo: Mil.ru)

“Besides brigades, in every district there are also independent battalions, for example, the independent EW battalion subordinate to the Central Military District command and based in the city of Engels in Saratov oblast.  We should note that, it’s most probable that the mission of such battalions is covering particularly important civilian and military facilities.”

“Strategic battalions equipped with the above mentioned ‘Murmansk,’ and also tactical ones — with ‘Infauna’ systems on a BTR base, R-330Zh ‘Zhitel’ and R-934 jamming stations go into EW brigades and centers.  Besides two battalions in brigades and centers there are also independent companies — one equipped with so-called [anti-]aircraft systems, that is ‘Krasukha-2’ and ‘Krasukha-4’ systems, and a company with aforementioned ‘Leyer-3s.’”

“The recently established Aerospace Forces are also receiving modern electronic warfare systems, we are talking in particular about such equipment as ‘Khibiny’ systems which have recently become almost legendary and are on Su-34 frontal bombers, but also  about Mi-8 helicopters equipped with ‘Rychag’  stations.  Also recently the Russian Air Forces’ aircraft inventory has gotten some jamming source based on the Il-18 — Il-22 ‘Porubshchik.’”

Mi-8MTPR-1 with Rychag EW System (photo: Sdelanounas.ru)

Mi-8MTPR-1 with Rychag EW System (photo: Sdelanounas.ru)

“‘Krasukha,’ ‘Murmansk’ and strong secrets”

“The most secret system in the entire Russian EW arsenal until recently was the ‘Krasukha-2’ jammer, though, currently first place in this nomination has gone to communications suppression station ‘Murmansk-BN,’ supposedly capable of jamming more than 20 frequencies at a range up to 5,000 kilometers.  However, there is no reliable confirmation that the newest system has such characteristics.”

“Judging by existing photographs of ‘Murmansk’ in open sources (several 4-axle increased mobility trucks with tall masts), where beside the main antennas characteristic low-frequency whip antennas are visible, it’s possible to suppose that this system is capable of jamming signals in wavelengths from 200 to 500 MHz.”

“The main problem of such a system, most likely, is that, to achieve the announced range, the signal must reflect off the ionosphere and therefore it is influenced heavily by atmospheric disturbances, which, undoubtedly, affect the operation of ‘Murmansk.’”

“At the Moscow Aerospace Show [MAKS] last year, KRET officially presented the 1L269 ‘Krasukha-2’ system for jamming long-range radar surveillance aircraft (first and foremost American E-3 ‘AWACS’ aircraft) in its static exhibit.  It’s notable that, in the words of the concern’s leadership, this system can jam ‘AWACS’ at ranges of several hundred kilometers.”

“Still, ‘Krasukha’ continues the line of development of the ‘Pelena’ and ‘Pelena-1’ systems worked out back in the 1980s by Rostov NII [scientific-research institute] ‘Gradient.’  A very simple decision put forth by then-director of ‘Gradient,’ but later general designer of the EW department in the USSR Yuriy Perunov underpinned the idea of these items:  the signal of the jamming station must exceed the power of the signal which it is supposed to jam by 30 decibels.”

“Judging by the information we have, it’s very difficult to suppress a target like the E-3 ‘AWACS’ since its radars have more than 30 tunable frequencies which are constantly changing during operations. Therefore, Yuriy Perunov in his day proposed that the most optimal decision would be suppression of entire bands with powerful, focused noise jamming.”

“However, such a decision has serious shortcomings — ‘Pelena’ / ‘Krasukha’ jamming covers only one direction, but the aircraft flies a route, and the effect of the equipment on ‘AWACS’ will be quite limited in duration.  And if there are already two DRLO [long-range radar surveillance] aircraft operating in the area, then even accounting for jamming during the overlap of the particular aircraft E-3 operators will still be able to receive the necessary information.”

“Powerful noise jamming will not only be detected by the radar reconnaissance means of the probable enemy, but will also be a good target for anti-radiation missiles.”

“All these problems were well-known to the developers of ‘Pelena’ from the very beginning, therefore the more modern ‘Krasukha’ became highly mobile to allow it to get away quickly from a strike, but also at the same time to get into a better position to deliver electromagnetic suppression.  It’s possible that not one, but several stations constantly changing position will be used against DRLO aircraft.”

“But ‘Krasukha-2’ is not altogether such universal equipment capable of jamming numerous radars as it is fashionable to believe.  It cannot simultaneously jam both E-8 ‘AWACS’ and E-2 ‘Hawkeye,’ since a jamming station suppressing only the required band of very distinct frequencies for DRLO aircraft radars will be needed for each type of DRLO aircraft.”

“It’s notable that work on ‘Krasukha-2’ began back in 1996 and was completed only in 2011.”

“The ‘+30 dB’ idea is used in yet one more of the newest developments of VNII ‘Gradient’ — 1RL257 ‘Krasukha-4,’ which is at present being actively placed in EW brigades and independent battalions and is designated for suppression of air-based radars, including not only those on fighters and fighter-bombers, but also on E-8 and U-2 reconnaissance aircraft.  True, there are doubts about the effectiveness of ‘Krasukha’ against the ASARS-2 radar at a U-2 altitude, since, judging by the available data, its signal is not only sufficiently complex, but still also noise-like.”

“In the opinion of developers and the military, under certain conditions, the 1RL257 can even jam warhead seekers of AIM-120 AMRAAM ‘air-to-air’ missiles, and also the command and control radars of the ‘Patriot’ surface-to-air missile system.”

“As in the case of ‘Krasukha-2,’ ‘Krasukha-4’ is not a completely original item, but the continuation of a line of jamming equipment in the SPN-30 family, on which work began at the end of the 1960s.  The new station uses not only the concept of the old ‘30s,’ but also, undoubtedly, some of the technical decisions applied in it.  Work on the 1RL257 began in 1994 and was completed in 2011.”

“The ‘Avtobaza’ system also thanks firstly to the Russian media has become together with ‘Khibiny’ some kind of super weapon to the casual observer, knocking down any drone with jamming.  In particular, victory over the American UAV RQ-170 is being ascribed to this system.  At the same time, ‘Avtobaza’ itself, and also the recently accepted into the Defense Ministry inventory ‘Moskva’ system resolve completely different missions — they conduct electronic reconnaissance, they provide target designation for an electronic warfare system and are the command post of an EW battalion (company).  It is understood that ‘Avtobaza’ had a sufficiently tangential relationship to the landing of the American UAV in Iran.”

“‘Moskva’ which is currently entering the force is the continuation of a line of systems of command, control, and reconnaissance of which ‘Mauzer-1,’ adopted into the inventory in the 1970s, is considered the beginning.  In the composition of the new system, there are two vehicles — a reconnaissance station, which detects and classifies types of radiation, their direction, signal power, and also a command post from which data is automatically transmitted to subordinate EW stations.”

“According to the thinking of the Russian military and EW developers, ‘Moskva’ allows for covertly determining the situation and delivering surprise electronic suppression on the enemy’s forces and equipment.  If the system conducts electronic reconnaissance in passive mode, then it forwards commands on radio channels and the enemy can intercept them in certain conditions.  In such a situation, it isn’t even necessary to decode the signals, it’s sufficient to detect the radio traffic and this reveals the presence of each EW battalion (company).”

“Muting satellites”

“Besides battle with the enemy’s aviation means, Russian EW developers devote great attention to suppressing the enemy’s radio traffic, and also muting GPS signals.”

“Developed and produced by Kontsern ‘Sozvezdiye,’ the most well-known silencer of satellite navigation is the R-330Zh ‘Zhitel’ system.  NTTs REB, whose item R-340RP is already being supplied to Russia’s Defense Ministry sub-units, also proposed a sufficiently original solution.  Small diameter jamming transmitters, whose signal is amplified by the antenna array, are placed on civilian cell phone towers.”

“Not just the media, but also some specialists assert that it is practically impossible to mute the GPS signal.  But in Russia technical solutions for ‘turning off’ satellite navigation appeared at the beginning of the 2000s.”

“In the GPS system there is the ‘bearing frequency’ concept.  At the basis of the system lies the transmission of the elementary signal from the satellite to the transmitter, therefore the smallest turning off from the assigned frequency even by milliseconds will lead to a loss of accuracy.  The transmission of the signal goes in a sufficiently narrow band, according to open data — 1575.42 MHz and 1227.60 MHz, and this is the bearing frequency. Therefore modern jammers are focused directly at blocking it which, taking into account the narrowness of the bearing frequency and possession of a sufficiently powerful noise jammer, to silence it does not constitute a special effort.”

Infauna

Infauna

“The ‘Leyer-3’ system with an electronic reconnaissance vehicle on a ‘Tigr’ base, but also several ‘Orlan-10’ pilotless aircraft equipped with dispensable jamming transmitters capable of suppressing not only radio but also cell phones, is a particularly interesting solution in the area of suppressing the probable enemy’s radio traffic.   The ‘Infauna’ RB-531B system produced by Kontsern ‘Sozvezdiye’ fulfills similar missions but without the use of drones.”

__________

¹The practice of holding some forces as reserves of the Supreme CINC dates to the Great Patriotic War (WWII) if not earlier.  The VDV and LRA are both still specified as belonging to the VGK.

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Electronic Warfare Chief Interviewed

Colonel Oleg Ivanov

 On Radioelectronic Warfare (REB or РЭБ) Specialists’ Day, Krasnaya zvezda interviewed the Chief of REB Troops, Colonel Oleg Anatolyevich Ivanov, about trends and developments in his branch of service.

Ivanov says the growth of information technology for military command and control has given rise to a new kind of confrontation–achieving C2 supremacy and it can exert a decisive influence on a war.  And REB has ‘priority significance’ in this area.  The basic mission of REB is gaining and holding C2 supremacy in combat actions.

Ivanov notes also REB Troops’ role in information protection.  He says they exert control over the military radio transmission network and radio discipline has been pretty good; the number of violations are down.

Ivanov says formations (brigades), units, and sub-units participated in Kavkaz-2009 and Zapad-2009 to create a complex radioelectronic situation for the networks of the exercise participants.  Combined arms units learned to fulfill their missions in conditions of active radioelectronic jamming.  REB units and sub-units worked out their radioelectronic suppression missions against the probable enemy’s targets as well as the radioelectronic defense of their own troops.  REB Troops received positive evaluations.

Asked about defense industry support to the REB Troops, Ivanov says 120 enterprises are involved, and they are largely divided, as in Soviet times, into two practically independent directions–those that work on REB systems and equipment against troop C2 on the one hand, and against weapons C2 on the other.  Sozvezdiye leads the former, and Rostekhnologiya’s ‘Electronic Technologies’ the latter.  He notes that Vega, OSK, and some independent enterprises are players also.

Not surprisingly, Ivanov says to accelerate the development of new EW systems ‘structural integration’ of these OPK enterprises is needed.  And a lead organization to make scientific-technical decisions is needed too.  Coordination of efforts will optimize the use of time and resources for creating new systems and equipment.

But Ivanov doesn’t say who his favorite to be the industry lead is.

Ivanov says Russian EW means are equal to the best foreign counterparts.  They can neutralize and block the most dangerous armaments (particularly, highly-accurate weapons) in real time.  Automated jamming stations from the 1980s and 1990s are serving well with modernization and are meeting current requirements [does this mean there’s been nothing new in the interval?].  But Ivanov says fundamentally new and unique multifunctional systems are being created along with incremental improvements in older systems.  He can’t say more owing to their secret nature.  He thinks it’s possible, however, to say they represent technological breakthroughs.

Ivanov calls EW comparable in effect to the employment of modern highly-accurate weapons, and, by some indicators, even superior to them.

KZ asks Ivanov about personnel issues, particularly one-year conscripts and young officers.

He responds that the issue of training specialists is very acute.  The rapid introduction of new equipment leads to the need for mass retraining of specialists, not just soldiers and sergeants, but officers too.  Officers might get a two-week retraining course, but a soldier takes several months and then only half a year remains for him to serve.

So all personnel are tested in the Inter-Service Training Center to evaluate their capabilities for assimilating the training program, then divided into training groups.  Next, REB Troops are trying to keep trained specialists as contractees.  Lastly, efforts are made to simplify and automate systems to ease demands on personnel.  But practice shows that making a high-class specialist in a year is very difficult, but an acceptable level of skill is possible if servicemen are focused on combat training as prescribed in their programs [i.e. not busy shoveling snow or building the commander’s dacha].

Turning to officers, Ivanov says Russian EW officers have lots of opportunities in the civilian sector, so manning the officer ranks is an ‘issue of special discussion.’  The problem, he says, isn’t as acute as the late 1990s, owing to a rise in status of officers in recent years.  But he doesn’t sound exactly convinced on this score himself.

Summing up the future for REB Troops, Ivanov concludes they have great possibilities, and coming qualitative changes in the development of EW forces and means must support its growth into a specific fundamental type of combat action which in many ways will determine the course and outcome of a battle.

More on the Unified Tactical Level Command and Control System

On 7 March, Russkiy Newsweek spent some time on Sozvezdiye [Constellation], aka the Unified Tactical Level Command and Control System (YeSU TZ).  The system is sometimes called by the name of its manufacturer–Sozvezdiye.  General Staff Chief Makarov in February said the system would be ready by November.

Russkiy Newsweek concludes, if it actually appears, it will be a technological revolution.  One Defense Ministry interlocutor said it now takes a day for orders to reach field commands from Moscow, but they will go practically in real time with this system.

The author, Viktor Poltavtsev, says NATO already operates in a netcentric fashion, and Makarov is quoted about how an Iraqi Army superior in tanks and artillery was defeated by smaller coalition forces that could see and forecast events, calculate variants, and receive possible solutions in real time.  Poltavtsev says, in the Genshtab, they believe the U.S. Army was 80 times more powerful than its opponent as a result of this information advantage.

But back to Sozvezdiye, Anatoliy Tsyganok thinks this not-yet-fielded system is already obsolete.  He says:

“Every Defense Minister picks his toy.  Igor Sergeyev–Bulava, Sergey Ivanov–GLONASS.  The current minister–the command and control system.”

Despite willingness to entertain possible arms imports in many areas, there is a fear of imports when it comes to command and control systems. Aleksandr Golts notes that Russia lacks a component base–it can’t produce chips or circuit boards, but doesn’t want to buy them abroad either.

The Georgians’ U.S.-made Harris system reportedly performed magnificently in 2008.  One Sozvezdiye associate said that, when the smoke of that little war cleared, it was obvious the Russian Army had no communications, old or new, and things began to stir in the Genshtab.  But Sozvezdiye’s testing has brought mixed results.  YeSU TZ was tested last summer during Kavkaz-2009.

Poltavtsev gives a little explanatory background.  Akatsiya, around since the mid-1990s, is a Genshtab-Military District level comms system that was produced by Sistemprom.  But it didn’t make too much sense without a tactical system to reach brigades-battalions-companies and individual soldiers.

Enter Sozvezdiye.  The Voronezh NII of Communications (aka Sozvezdiye) has worked since 2000 on a tactical level system.  Its specialty heretofore had been satellite radio comms.

Sistemprom awaits the completion of Sozvezdiye’s system so it can connect the two, to create a single command and control system.  As Poltavtsev describes it, generals will sit at Akatsiya stations and command divisions or brigades that have Akveduk.  Brigade commanders will use Akveduk to command their battalions and companies in real time using fast, well-protected channels.

So YeSU TZ is supposed to be the computer network that unites the battlefield–people, equipment, artillery, etc., like a computer game.

Battalion and company commanders are supposed to be able to use digital channels to get reconnaissance photos, video, and other data, to give commands to troops, and to connect to higher staff elements.  Today the commander still has to scream into the radio, but tomorrow he might send soldiers orders to their hand-held devices.

But this is still theoretical.  Everything will depend on the reliability of the equipment and comms channels.  And the system can be blocked if the RF spectrum is suppressed.  The system might not work against a modern, well-equipped enemy that can do this.

Poltavtsev says Russian EW (or REC) systems were used against Sozvezdiye during testing in December at Alabino.  And mobile phones, Internet, radios, and even some hospital equipment in the area stopped working as a result.  A Sozvezdiye rep says their system was jammed on the Taman brigade’s range, but they can get around this by changing transmitters.

The main thing, according to him, is developing algorithms for use in combat that everyone understands.  Users say Sozvezdiye is complex and difficult to use, and it will take a while for commanders to sort out its arrows and symbology.

The Defense Ministry has acknowledged that YeSU TZ needs significant reworking, but there’s no other way.  General Staff Chief Makarov said everyone built their own C2 systems in the past; there were 16 military C2 systems in Soviet days.  Now a common one is being built.  However, Poltavtsev asked a PAK FA developer if his system is already integrated into Sozvezdiye, and he asked what it was, he’d never heard of it.

An interesting account of Sozvezdiye . . . it sounds a little like the story of Bulava, i.e. ‘we have to unify our different systems,’ ‘there’s no other way but to make it work,’ etc.  These are understandable, even commendable at times, goals and sentiments, but they don’t always lead to development of successful military systems.  Sometimes the primary goal has to be a system that works.  And sometimes designers and builders even have to start over.

Makarov Meets the Press

Chief of the General Staff Nikolay Makarov

General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov spoke at length to the press yesterday. In no particular order, here are some of the impressions and reports that followed in his wake.

RBCdaily quoted Makarov on the possible Mistral purchase:  “Ships of the Mistral type have very great multifunctionality, and they surpass our ships in all parameters by three times.”  He went on to say that Russian shipbuilders would only be able to produce helicopter carriers of this quality in 5-10 years.  Aleksandr Khramchikhin commented that, in the first place, Russia doesn’t currently have comparable ships and, in the second, it will take 50 years.

Makarov said the final decision on buying the Mistral had not been made.

According to Rossiyskaya gazeta, Makarov said the Russian Army went to brigades vice divisions to avoid the previous need to flesh out units with reservists and take days to bring them to combat readiness.  ‘Modular’ battalions by contrast are permanently ready for battle in an hour.

Makarov didn’t rule out establishment of some type of ‘rapid reaction forces,’ though these are closest in nature to today’s VDV.  And this wouldn’t mean VDV would simply change its name. And other services need rapid reaction capabilities too for action in the air, on the sea, etc.  Aren’t permanently ready brigades rapid reaction forces already?

On the Navy headquarters move to St. Petersburg, Makarov claimed Moscow is overflowing with army and navy leadership [but haven’t they just cut 200,000 officers and lots of excess command structures to create a personnel pyramid?].  And with today’s networks the fleet can be commanded from thousands of kilometers away from the Genshtab and other main commands.

Makarov doesn’t foresee any change to the one-year conscription policy, but there may be changes in NCO acquisition.  Instead of six months training in MD training centers, they may only get 3, so they can serve 9 months in troop units.  Makarov thinks they’ll cut back on conscript sergeants once their professional ones start to appear.

Moskovskiy komsomolets quoted Makarov on the new strategic arms agreement with the U.S. to the effect that it’s 97 percent complete, and it only remains to agree on the relationship between offensive and defensive weapons, and there will not be anything in the treaty to Russia’s detriment in this regard.

On Mistral, Makarov said, after study, we’ve concluded we need this type of ship, which can be an amphibious assault ship, hospital, command ship, and helicopter carrier.

On the Navy and Piter, MK notes Makarov wanted to avoid Baluyevskiy’s fate and didn’t contradict his superiors.  He expounded on his vision (perhaps dream) of Russian netcentric warfare:

“Earlier it was like this:  the closer to subordinates, the more reliable the command and control.  Now all leading countries, including us also, are going to netcentric command and control systems.  This allows completely remote means of reconnaissance, command and control, electronic warfare, fire, command posts–all spread over an enormous distance, but located in a single information-communications space and capable of solving tasks in real time.”

On a related note, Makarov said the new Sozvezdiye tactical level command and control system will be part of the netcentric structure toward the end of the year.

Gazeta’s coverage focused on Makarov’s comments about establishing the personnel pyramid, i.e. going from armed forces with about 500,000 officers and warrants to one of 150,000 officers and 720,000 soldiers in the space of a year.  It also noted Makarov’s remark that brigade commanders in their training assembly at the General Staff Academy are learning new warfare and command and control principles.

Izvestiya quoted Makarov at length on the Navy Main Staff’s move to Piter.

“Presently all command and control organs are concentrated in Moscow, but we want these command and control organs to be as close as possible to the troops they control [didn’t he also call this the old way of doing business?].  The dispersal of command and control and fire means at great distances doesn’t have any great significance, what’s important is maintaining uninterrupted and clear command and control of troops and weapons.  Therefore, the transfer of the Navy Main Staff to St. Petersburg won’t place any kind of extra burden on the command and control system, with the exception perhaps, only in the initial period of its functioning in a new place.”

Viktor Baranets in Komsomolskaya pravda focused on Makarov’s words on the U.S. and Iran, noting his statements that the U.S. has a plan to strike Iran, and, if it occurs, it’ll be terrible for Iran, the region, and the U.S.

Krasnaya zvezda covered the Iran issue.  It noted that Russia’s need for ready units forced the shift to brigades.  It also covered Makarov’s comment that the Voronezh conference agreed on changes needed in the Sozvezdiye C2 system, and that it would be received this July and fielded in November.  KZ also quoted Makarov at length on the capabilities of the 5th generation fighter aircraft.

KZ also indicated that Makarov noted the U.S. as an example where units and commands are often separated by great distances when he talked about the Navy Main Staff and Piter.

Generally, it seems those invited to this press availability only asked Makarov ‘soft ball’ questions.

Putin’s Voronezh Trip and Military C3

It takes a while to digest the press devoted to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s 18 January trip to Voronezh and Sozvezdiye, or the state-owned communications conglomerate based on the Voronezh Scientific-Research Institute of Military Communications.  Sozvezdiye is the holding which encompasses 16 other enterprises involved in C3, radio, and electronics.

Watch this NTV coverage of Putin at Sozvezdiye.

Sozvezdiye had a big demo set up outside for Putin.  But as the video shows, Putin was wearing his supremely bored look.  Moskovskiy komsomolets picked up on this, noting that Putin gave a cursory look at everything, and inside the display tent, he apparently picked up the mic on a video link system and tried to use it, but the soldier on the other end couldn’t hear the Prime Minister.

The Voronezh trip was the latest in a series of meetings on the state of the OPK.  Putin started by stating the obvious, noting that C3I is a decisive factor in the combat capability of a modern army, and a precondition for the use of highly accurate weapons.  He said it’s difficult to imagine an effective transition to a modern organizational structure without the right C3.  He called C3 a key priority for defense and noted that significant budget money will be spent on them.

Putin proceeded to chide his C3 producer audience, saying that Russia can’t modernize what it’s got; it needs an entirely new generation of systems.  He said C3 producers suffered from poor leadership, organization, and coordination of efforts.  Finally, he had to admit that they basically ignored his 2000 presidential decree on development of a new C3 system.

Specifically, Putin said:

“…we need not only to conduct a fundamental modernization of existing complexes and systems.  We have to say plainly that they unfortunately have already aged greatly.  And become obsolete, and even their technical condition often leaves much to be desired.  Therefore our focus for the coming years is to give the troops new generation equipment, to take a qualitative step forward.  It is precisely on this that I ask you to focus.”

“Our enterprises have a good scientific-technical pool for resolving this task, we need to use it wisely.”

Noting that dozens of OPK organizations work on C3I, he said:

“I ask that you turn attention to precise coordination of their activity, and also concentrate on working out agreed approaches and requirements for product development.”

“Besides this, I would like to turn attention to this, to this time a number of decisions adopted earlier have not been carried out.  So, to the present day, a general designer for development of an automated C2 system for the armed forces has not been appointed.  An integrated structure which would develop and implement a unified scientific-technical policy in this sphere has not been formed.  A special comprehensive program which would allow us to concentrate resources, to reduce and to optimize, to increase the effectiveness of budget expenditures has not been developed.”

Find the text of Putin’s address here.

Different media outlets reached the same conclusion about Putin’s Sozvezdiye visit and whether his words can fix the OPK’s problems and increase the sluggish pace of military modernization.  Segodnya.ru concluded:

“…the fact that Vladimir Putin directly participates in the problem of modernizing the technical outfitting of the army and promises to give the troops new generation equipment in coming years, inspires some optimisim.  Although the sensation remains that loud pronouncements about modernization traditionally hang in the air.”

Writing in Nezavisimaya gazeta, Viktor Myasnikov called it Putin’s “latest attempt to mobilize the military-industrial complex to equip the armed forces with quality modern products.”  Making note of Putin’s exhortations to the C3 producers, Tribuna said, “We’d like to believe they heard him.”  Newsru.com summed it up simply, Putin demanded that they modernize C3, but how to do it is not clear to anyone.

What exactly did Putin order in 2000?  According to Denis Telmanov writing for Gzt.ru before the Voronezh visit, Putin ordered the development of the Unified Tactical Level Command and Control System [ЕСУ ТЗ or YeSU TZ]. 

What’s it supposed to do?  It is supposed to be a large part of a system tying the armed forces together in one modern C2 network, and enabling them operate in a netcentric fashion.  Several media items reported that the Defense Ministry believes YeSU TZ will provide 2 or 3 times the capability of its predecessor. 

Tribuna noted that the Russians have the individual pieces of equipment, bought with a considerable allocation of money, but they haven’t managed to pull them together into one, integrated and modern C2 system.  According to Segodnya.ru, experts believe only Russia’s strategic forces possess a functioning, albeit increasingly obsolete, C2 system.  The armed services and branches, MDs, fleets, and armies have local automated C2 that isn’t necessarily integrated or compatible with other commands.

At the operational-tactical (battalion-brigade) level, Russia has reportedly fallen 20 years behind Western armies in C2.

Testing of YeSU TZ began in 2006 and continues.  In December, troops at Alabino used the equipment in a battalion tactical exercise.  But Telmanov concludes the military is in no hurry to adopt the system because it’s problem plagued and has obsolete elements.  It’s also hard to integrate with the army’s old comms gear. 

Izvestiya on 20 January reported that the system may be too complex for soldiers and sergeants, but even for some officers.  Myasnikov noted that the equipment suffered a lot of breakdowns at Alabino. 

But Sozvezdiye denies the criticism, saying YeSU TZ is reliable and no more difficult to use than a mobile phone.

Nikolay Khorunzhiy writing in Vremya novostey had said back in November that the Akatsiya system was tested during Kavkaz-2009 but could not be fully employed because operator training was deficient.  Combat situation data had to be input by hand and orders sent out by voice radio, defeating the purpose of automation.  Myasnikov also wrote that Akatsiya isn’t working out.

A little nomenclature is in order here.  It’s difficult to square all the press, but it seems Akatsiya is a name for YeSU TZ, but it’s also known by the name Sozvezdiye, a little confusing since this is the C3 production conglomerate’s name as well.  Apparently, Akatsiya is either based on or relies on the Akveduk satellite radio [?] system as one of its component parts.  These in turn evolved out of Polet-K and Manevr before them.  A couple press pieces said one problem with the system is what was basically a radio comms enterprise was put in charge of the broader C2 system effort which required other expertise as well.

A few other issues from the Voronezh visit bear mentioning…

Many press items cited the 2008 five-day war with Georgia as putting attention on C3 weaknesses.  Vremya novostey recalled the image of a wounded 58th Army commander, the recently dismissed, Khrulev borrowing a satellite phone from a journalist to communicate with Moscow.  Several papers cited a Sozvezdiye deputy director saying the holding ‘got raked over the coals’ for South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  He noted that Georgian forces used Harris equipment from the U.S. and it was better than Russian analogues in a number of ways.

Regarding this technological lag, there’s some dispute.  Moskovskiy komsomolets indicated Putin was told “we’ve approached NATO standards” in computerized C2.  Izvestiya, however, cited an industry source saying that there’s no appreciable lag between Russian and U.S. and Israeli systems.

Nezavisimaya gazeta and Izvestiya tackled the cost issue.  First Deputy Sozvezdiye Director Vasiliy Borisov was widely quoted to the effect that equipping one brigade with the new C2 system will cost 8 billion rubles.  Nezavisimaya multiplied this by 85 ‘new profile’ brigades for a price of 680 billion rubles, or when higher echelons have to outfitted as well, the total cost is probably more like 1 trillion rubles, or the price of one complete year of the State Defense Order (GOZ).  Izvestiya quoted Borisov saying the price to outfit a company commander would be 150,000 rubles, and 50,000 for individual soldiers.  The paper concluded that the new equipment won’t be replacing mobile phones any time soon at these prices.

Nezavisimaya also noted that one can’t do C2 properly without the right navigation system, and GLONASS is not up to the job.  It cited 17 operational GLONASS satellites, but press services today noted that 18 are now functioning.  Still, not enough.  Nezavisimaya compares work on C2 to Bulava and GLONASS–other military programs that defense industry is having a hard time bringing to fruition.  Tribuna makes the same point that a fully functioning and reliable GLONASS system is a ‘sine qua non’ for effective C2.

Is Russia Ready for Netcentric Warfare?

Is It Really This Simple?

Dmitriy Litovkin addressed this recently in Izvestiya.  He defines netcentric war as generals in the Arbat controlling not only armies but individual soldiers in real time via a military Internet.  He calls the U.S. concept as gathering all forces into one information space and turning the armed forces into one huge reconnaissance-strike system. 

Litovkin cites one Robert Nikolayev, who worked in an NII, probably the Voronezh Scientific-Research Institute of Communications, now known as OAO Sozvezdiye [Constellation].  Nikolayev worked on the Manevr [Maneuver] system from 1983, which was to unite all fire means in one communications system and tell field commanders what the staff wanted, where friendly forces and targets were, and what weapons to use on them.  But Nikolayev indicates the Armed Forces Communications Directorate viewed the system as a threat and killed it.  He says it was a good system and it supposedly helped the Warsaw Pact defeat Western forces in a NATO war game.  In the early 1990s, Nikolayev worked on Polet-K for the VDV and it went through testing, but wasn’t fielded.

Litovkin says a new tactical C2 system called Sozvezdiye [isn’t this the firm’s name] is in the works, but no one wants to talk about it since it’s a state secret.  He describes it as an Internet-based computer network with secure email.

Litovkin thinks buying Israeli UAVs or French ships will make Russia’s task harder since it surely won’t get SENIT-9 or SIC-21 that give Mistral its automated C3 capability.  Russia will have to provide its own.

Litovkin adds comments from Mikhail Barabanov.  He says the USSR’s lag in electronics and computing equipment during the 1980s hurt the early efforts and then its collapse stopped the development of these sectors for a while.  He thinks Russia will not only have to overcome the continuing lag in information systems, but also change its military organization, manning, and training to become netcentric.

Rossiyskaya gazeta’s Sergey Ptichkin published a similar article not long ago.  Also see this for more on Russian netcentric warfare efforts in the 2009 exercises.  It covers the comms chief’s promises about individual soldier comms by 2011.  The VDV chief of staff also talked about this for his troops in his year-ender.