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21 Aralık 2013 Cumartesi

Russia bolsters western air defence capabilities

12 December 2013 Gareth Jennings, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

Russia has significantly bolstered its western air defence capability with the standing up of a new long-range radar system and the deployment of fighter aircraft to Belarus, state media disclosed on 9 December.

A new over-the-horizon radar system is officially being trialled near the town of Kovylkino in the Russian republic of Mordovia, but is believed to be already monitoring air traffic over much of Europe and the Middle East, while a Russian Air Force (VVS) squadron of Sukhoi Su-27 'Flanker' fighters recently arrived at the Baranovichi Air Base in Belarus, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

The western-facing radar at Kovylkino, known as the 29B6 Container, is a static system comprising a number of separate antenna masts that are 30 m in height and stretch for more than a kilometre. According to Russian media reports, the radar has a 3,000 km range that, when coupled with its 180° field of regard, takes in most of Europe and a large swathe of the Middle East. The same reports credit the system with being able to track airborne targets (including cruise missiles) from sea level up to 100 km (near space).

Whereas most long-range radar systems are typically restricted in their coverage by the curvature of the earth, the Container is said to avoid this problem by reflecting its short-wave radio signals (3 to 30 MHz) off the ionosphere. These signals are then bounced back from the ground, and the process repeats itself until the signal loses its energy.

According to RIA Novosti, the Container is part of the 590th separate radio-technical unit, which includes a command post, a transmission and reception antenna, and a communications and data management unit.

With the radar activated on 2 December, it is expected to be declared fully operational by the end of 2015. A second system, covering Russia's eastern air defence region, is expected to be built before the end of the decade.

On the same day that the turning on of the Container radar was disclosed, Russia announced it had deployed a squadron of Su-27s to Belarus for the first time, as part of a bilateral defence agreement between the two countries. Four fighters will be on permanent stand-by at the Baranovichi Air Base near Belarus' borders with Lithuania and Poland.

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