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Moscow (Voice of Russia) Dec 22, 2013
The commissioning of a Konteyner radar station in the Russian region of Mordovia east-southeast of Moscow has marked the completion of the latest part of Russia's programme to patch up its radar surveillance coverage, which developed huge gaps after many of the Soviet radar stations were taken over by new states and many others fell into post-Soviet disrepair.
Adding to this misery is the fact that many of the Soviet Union's former allies are now in NATO. This means the holes in Russia's air and space defense system have to be closed, and closed immediately. Hence the deployment of several Voronezh missile-detecting radars and now of the Konteyner radar.
A classical radar utilizes ultra-short radio waves or microwaves and therefore cannot see beyond the horizon.
Long-wave radars, which can, are impractical because of their huge antennas and immense power appetites.
In the 1980s, the Soviet Union developed its Duga shortwave radars, which can see beyond the horizon due to the multiple reflection of short waves from the ground and the ionosphere.
It positioned radars of this type near Komsomolsk-on-Amur in the Far East and near Chernobyl and Nikolayev in Ukraine. Unfortunately, the Chernobyl nuclear accident and the break-up of the Soviet Union put paid to the Duga programme.
In the 1990s and the 2000s, the NIIDAR institute developed its Teletz, Volna, Podsolnukh and Laguna radars, which utilize the ability of short radio waves to travel beyond the horizon due to diffraction amid surface relief elements. These radars have proved to be quite useful in controlling Russia's 200-mile coastal economic zone.
And now comes the Konteyner, capable of detecting aircraft and missiles, both ballistic and cruise, popping up at 3,000 kilometers away at altitudes of up to 100 kilometers.
Moreover, its angular coverage is close to 180 degrees, allowing Russia to make do with a mere handful of such radars. Importantly, the Konteyner features a modular set-up, making it easy to assemble and easy to service.
The Konteyner complex built in Mordovia consists of several towers supporting big receiving antennas. The transmitter is located in the neighboring region of Nizhny Novgorod.
The next Konteyner station is to be built in the Russian Far East. In total, there should be as many as six by 2020. Together with the Voronezh stations, they will forever close the radar surveillance gaps around the country's borders.
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