Russia deploys first over-the-horizon radar capable of detecting hypersonic targets

On December 1st, the first over-the-horizon 29B6 “Container” radar station in Russia was commissioned, Ministry of Defense outlet Zvezda reported.

The system is able to track the movement of air targets at a distance of approximately 3,000 km from the Russia border. The first over-the-horizon radar station was commissioned on the territory of Mordavia.

“Starting from December 1st, as part of the Aerospace Forces in the village of Kovylkino, the Republic of Mordovia, the over-the-horizon radar station “Container” will take up combat duty,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said.

The station will be able to detect the mass take-off of aviation and cruise missiles, determine the trajectories of individual targets, including tactical and strategic aviation aircraft, as well as hypersonic aircraft.

The Ministry of Defense emphasized that even stealth aircraft are not invisible to the Container. It can reportedly also detect hypersonic targets.

The Ministry clarified that the newest station has been on-going test at the site of its deployment since December 1st, 2018 and one year later it was officially commissioned after passing its test.

“This is the first such system in the country,” the Defense Ministry said.

In total, four such stations are planned to be deployed: one in the west and east of the country, two more will be deployed in the north-west and south directions. Stations are specially built inland, as they have a “dead zone” of 900 km.

The “Container” is able to track flights of any air targets at a distance of about 3 thousand kilometers in a sector of 240 degrees. A radar can simultaneously lock on to more than 5 thousand airborne objects of various types, including small ones.

With the new over-the-horizon radar station, the Russian Aerospace Forces can monitor a large region that includes all of Europe, including the vast majority of NATO countries. The “Container” radar station will allow constant monitoring of the activity of the air forces of foreign countries and timely pre-emptive knowledge of any activity. In a scenario of a hypothetical escalation, this will also make it possible to quickly identify preparations for an air attack or for various missile strikes.

According to available information, the allocation of funds for the 29B6 “Container” radar station project began in 2002. In parallel, the construction of two facilities with different parts of the system began back then. One of them was built in the city of Gorodets (Nizhny Novgorod region), the other – in the city of Kovylkino (Mordovia). In the same year, the first tests started. Testing of various components took more than ten years. On December 2nd, 2013, the first model 29B6 was put on pilot combat duty as part of the 590th separate radio-technical unit for over-the-horizon detection.

The radar was initially activated in 2013 in a limited capacity, and has been operating in full since 2018 as part of testing. And was fully commissioned now.

The 29B6 “Container” radar consists of two main parts: namely a receiving and transmitting antenna field located at a considerable distance from each other. The transmitting part of the station is in the Nizhny Novgorod region, the receiving part is in Mordovia. Both fields are large platforms with a large number of masts, on which transmitting or receiving elements are installed. For example, near the town of Kovylkino, 144 antenna-feeder masts with a height of 34 m each were deployed on a site measuring 1300 x 200 m.

Antenna fields work in conjunction with the hardware complex, the elements of which are mounted in standard containers. The hardware equipment and antennas are connected to each other via multiple cable lines. In a recent interview with the Director General of NIIDAR (which developed the radar) it was mentioned that the Radar “Container” needs powerful electronic computing technology with special software. The necessary components of this kind have been specifically developed for the radar station.