Chances of success for nuclear first strike by the US
The following is our translation of an article from Izvestia
One step ahead of the Americans
Lieutenant-General Viktor Poznikhir, deputy chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff, stated that the United States is capable of launching a sudden nuclear strike across Russia. According to him, the presence of American missile defense bases in Europe, missile defense ships in the seas and oceans close to the Russian territory, creates a powerful hidden shock component for a possible sudden nuclear missile strike. Should we be afraid of such a scenario? The following is an interview given to Izvestiya by Dmitry Stupin, Deputy General Designer of RTI, the firm that created the most advanced early warning radar systems for a missile attack of the Voronezh type.
- How true is the statement that the US is able to inflict a sudden massive missile strike that we simply cannot repel?
"I have been working in the defense industry for many years, and my deepest conviction is that no nuclear strike can be inflicted suddenly. In and of itself, the set of activities associated with the organization of an attack is quite a difficult thing. The main thing is that this is a large amount of work, which is absolutely impossible to hide. I'm not talking about the strike phase, but only about the preparation. The preparation is a kind of mobilization. Even on the Internet, you can read commentaries by American students: "Come on, my ancestors were urgently called to the service" - and the place of deployment of this student is near the air base or the launch site of strategic missiles. This is the simplest thing - something that is easily revealed. And there are exchanges on the radio, etc. Such events cannot be hidden. All submarines will have go out to the patrol areas, and not the part that patrols constantly and about which everything is known to our respective structures.
Even if all the necessary buttons are suddenly pressed, I assure you that the missile attack warning system will work properly and, at the right time, will warn the country's high command how many objects are detected, where they are targeted and from which regions they are launched.
"Will this information come from the Voronezh radar station?"
- Not only there. The development of radar stations of the SPRN [Missile Warning System, known to Western experts by the transliteration of its Russian acronym--nss] has been ongoing since the 50s of the last century. A single field of airspace and outer space control of the missile warning system allows us to see the missile for several thousand kilometers and in time to take retaliatory measures. Now there are new challenges from missile technology and means of delivery of nuclear charges, and non-nuclear warheads have appeared on these missiles. Accordingly, the radar technique is being improved to increase the information content and noise immunity. That is, increasing the possibility of detecting new types of objects and solving warning tasks for them.
Now a single information field has been created in the SPRN system. This was achieved through the deployment of our Voronezh-type early warning stations. But let’s not forget about the "old"
"Daryal" type radar, which is still in service. Despite the fact that this radar was developed in the early 1970s, it perfectly detects objects at the maximum range. Including those that by-passed the working area of the older model stations. It sees an object the size of a soccer ball at a distance of several thousand kilometers.
- How is this possible for technologies of the last century?
- The "Daryal" stations were made with some redundancy and, possibly, due to this, are still workable. They have a very high modernization potential. I lost count of how many upgrades our old kind stations "Dnepr" and "Danube" have undergone. All of them only improved the characteristics. Some are still working and do their job very well.
Stations of the Voronezh type, which are now being deployed, are cheaper to develop. They utilize technology with high factory readiness, which allowed us to shorten the terms of design and resource costs by several times. These stations are cheaper to operate, requiring substantially less megawatts of power.
When developing them, the prospects for the development of missile-space attack capabilities were taken into account. We know in what direction they will come from, and we know how to respond to this. The test results of the stations show that they will work reliably and on prospective means of attack with the quality that the customer requires. I have no concerns about this.
- The Voronezh-type stations are of modular design. So, if necessary, can you increase their capabilities without serious investments?
- Yes. Each module of the missile attack warning system will be developed. Despite the fact that the stations are serial, each has its own individual characteristics, depending on the direction that it “services.” At the same time, their design on the open architecture principle, the possibility of scaling due to modularity allows one to increase power if necessary simply by adding additional antenna modules and increasing the volume of equipment. Docking with an active medium is not a problem. Otherwise, we would not have a number of leading specialists of our company awarded the State Prize for this technology. It is clear that increasing the capabilities of the radar will be costly, but for the country they will be quite feasible.
- A "Voronezh" radar system was built near Irkutsk with two antenna fields, which look in different directions. Why is this done?
- This is an expanded field of view, so that the controlled outer space area is larger. In Kaliningrad there is a single-station station (with one antenna), but it covers the necessary zone. In Irkutsk there are two stations and they also cover the necessary zone, almost twice as wide. It depends on the specific needs of the customer on this rocket and space direction. The technology by which the station is made is such that it is possible to put another identical one next to it, which will be oriented to another angular direction, without any problems.
- Many experts are worried that the Russian North is completely defenseless against a massive strategic strike. Particularly with cruise missiles. How is this area protected?
- With regard to a strategic strike, I don’t agree. Our facilities in Murmansk, Pechora and Yeniseysk completely cover the entire northerly direction. The military can supply more details on this. As for cruise missiles, after the losses that our radar field of aerospace control incurred in the 1990s, there probably are difficulties in finding and tracking such targets.
- You had the "Sirius" assignment for mobile stations. They had to cover the narrow sectors from which these objects could come.
- If we’re talking about the need for funds that can provide cover for the relevant directions, then these funds are available. But considering the flight characteristics of cruise missiles, it should be noted that they cannot always provide the required range and it is necessary to solve the problems systematically and in a slightly different way: by building echeloned systems of target detection and tracking.
If we’re talking about a mass raid - whether it's cruise or strategic missiles, most likely, no missile defense system will protect against it. Therefore, we must talk about the problem of containment: our Western partners, knowing that in case of aggression they will receive a serious response, and will hold on their plans. Consequently, the task is to reliably detect an attack with a time lead, which will allow us to take responsive steps. I think that in this respect, we are still holding our own today, including with cruise missiles.
- Is it possible to assert that we have covered the entire radar field of missile attack warning?
"It exists; the stations work in standby mode." If a "dangerous" object flies from any direction, it will be detected.
- Are there analogs to our Voronezh-type radar in the West?
- The first thing that comes to mind is the American PAVEPAWS (Precision Acquisition Vehicle Entry Phased Array Warning System) - a missile-nuclear strike warning system. This is a station of the same class with the "Voronezh".
- Also modular, scalable?
- Not as modular, not as scalable. Because the basic development of this station was done in the mid-1980s. Our station is a station of the XXI century, the next generation. I think if the Americans have new stations, they will be created taking our experience into account. Today, the Voronezh-type radar is the basic means for information support of rocket and space defense and is still the highest achievement in the field of long-: