Monday, July 19, 2010

Russian Strategic Air Defense



Anonymous said...

Yes, present Russian Air Defense network looks very clumsy. If I count 381 former Soviet inactive AD sites and compare this number with current amount of 54 sites the conclusion is obvious: Russia possesses now only deplorable remnants of USSR's PVO system. In fact only Moscow area is highly defended by strong SAM ring. Besides only St. Petersburg, Kola Peninsula and Vladivostok regions have some kind of AD network but not sufficient to repel enemy air attacks. The rest of country is open to enemy's strike assets penetration. For instance Caucasus area is defended only by three S-300P batteries which seems ridiculous. Moreover we should assume that older EW radars are very prone to modern ECM techniques and they cannot detect low-level flying targets like ALCMs/SLCMs and bombers of B-1B and F-15E type. Additionally I suppose stealth targets are also outside Russian AD systems reach in spite of accusations that Russian VHF band EW radars can catch them. Also note I do not think Russia can realistically count on Ukrainian help to screen its Western frontier.

All in all Russian AD system is now very weak against US/NATO threat in Europe and even against Chinese air penetration (thanks to PLAAF's Su-30MK/J-11B family of jets) in the Far East. Its future prospects are very disappointing. I do not believe S-400 acquisition level will be sufficient to replace all S-300P batteries - anyway present in quite insufficient numbers at this moment.

Anonymous said...

Impressive analysis, Sean. I have no idea how you have time to do it and, say, eat and sleep too.

Anonymous said...

You are great.
I too wonder like RB if you do sleep at all.
Keep up the fantastic work.
Hope to see the UGABs soon.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely amazing analysis. It is very helpful to me also. Thanks a lot!

But as Observer said, Ukraine may not be able to be counted on in the event of a strike package incursion from the west. That may change, but I have a feeling that Ukraine may not be under the CIS's mutual air defense network for long.

Sean O'Connor said...

Observer: First off, with increased cpabilities, you don't have to replace S-300Ps with S-400s on a one-for-one basis. Also most of those empty PVO era sites featured much shorter range systems than the present S-300P family. The empty portions of Russia's airspace? That's why the MiG-31 exists. Russia's air defense network isn't designed to defend every square inch of airspace. Look at China, neither is its. China follows pretty much the same type of deployment strategy.

RB: sleep is often scarce sometimes but I manage. Pizza delivery is key for aiding the food requirement as well!

CayceG: yeah, the Ukraine might not be on Russia's friends list very much longer. But as the CIS air defense network stands currently, they still play a part in defending the former Soviet Union's western flank.

Anonymous said...

Sean, how efective are the russian EW radars against US stealth airplanes? And in general, how effective is a S300-P against the NATO/US planes?

Sean O'Connor said...

Any radar can find a stealth plane. It just depends on whether or not you find it at a reasonable distance, or when it's right on top of you and inside the minimum engagement zone of your SAM complexes. The 30N6, 36D6, and 64N6 have a decent counter-stealth capability, but older, legacy systems like the P-35/37 will be less effective.

The S-300P series is arguably the most advanced SAM system in the world apart from the new S-400, and the latest variants are very effective. The advantages the S-300P series enjoy are long range and the ability to engage jamming targets as well as PGMs like the HARM.

Anonymous said...

Your work elaborating such map was impressive. I suggest that you make, if it is possible, a map with the coverage of the A-135 Anti-Ballistic Missile System, deployed around Moscow!

Anonymous said...

SOC: I think you seriously overestimate Russian AD systems capabilities and Russia's current poor situation. I tell you why:

- in fact S-400 should replace S-300P systems in one-for-one basis because you missed point that present threats are more advanced than those PVO faced during S-300P deployment time. For example S-300P cannot engage stealth cruise missiles and also both stealth planes and UAVs. Moreover note that now NATO countries are in process of fielding new generation of stealth or partially stealth fighters (F-22, F-35, Rafale, Typhoon) and about 11000 conventional-stealth ALCMs of JASSM, Taurus, Apache, Tac Tomahawk types.

- shorter range of earlier Soviet SAMs does not matter much in this aspect because their much higher number enabled to close those huge gaps Russian AD system now has. Simply S-300P longer range does not compensate very moderate amount of firing batteries.

- I do not think at present MiG-31s can really fill gaps in undefended by SAM sectors because their number dropped from above 350 in 1991 to 120 planes at best currently in active service. Besides these sophisticated fighters are now quite old and constantly withdrawn from service due to lack of proper maintenance arose from financial reasons.

- it is known that meter-band EW radars can detect stealth planes but their range-bearing accuracy is so limited that they cannot give valuable data to essentially "stealth-blind" SAM tracking and engagement radars. Also old P-35/37 (what you know about P-18/19 radars?) post-Soviet EW radars are not very reliable now. Unfortunately as far as I know number of modern Nebo-SVU radar systems is very limited. However that is why B-2 bomber are now modernized in advance to fly at very low altitudes.

- it is not true S-300PT/PS/PM systems are still "the most advanced SAM systems in the world". S-300P is 1970s vintage system and versions (not most modern export S-300PMU-2) Russia currently has are surely worse as compared to Patriot PAC-3 (PAC-2 GEM+) and AEGIS (SM-2MR Blk. IIIB, SM-2ER Blk. IVA, SM-6) US systems. I can underline here their outdated electronics and thus rather weak self-defense against modern ECM assets, vulnerability to detection by ISR platforms (RC-135V, EP-3E, Global Hawk) and destruction by latest version of HARM missile (AGM-88E with active-passive radar homing fielded since 2010).

- if Ukraine sells now weapon to Georgia to fight Russians I seriously doubt Russo-Ukrainian military cooperation will be continued. Latest news are as follows: Russia ends cooperation with Ukrainian military joint AD system is imaginable in such circumstances.

In sum Russian AD capability will worsen in the future taking into account more and more advanced threats.

Sean O'Connor said...

Info on the Soviet and Russian ABM systems can be seen here:

To Observer:

The S-400 has been developed to deal with far more advanced threats than the low altitude, low RCS cruise missile type targets the S-300P was designed to deal with initially.

120 MiG-31s active, with 4 aircraft able to monitor a 1600 kilometer wide piece of airspace. It'd be a stretch, but they could still cover a good deal of territory if there are only 120 active. That should change soon, by the way, since the MiG-31BM upgrade program has started to move forward.

Ukraine's participation or lack thereof in the CIS air defense network is up for debate, but as they are still technically a participant until they state otherwise they were included.

PATRIOT has nothing on the modern S-300PM variants. The ATBM capability PAC-3 added was designed into the 48N6 missile and the 5V55/5N63 combination used by the S-300PT and S-300PS proved capable of downing missiles during testing at Sary Shagan early on. PAC-3 was PATRIOT playing catch-up. True, AEGIS SAMs are another story entirely, but I am referring to land-based systems. Nobody has been smart enough to make a land-mobile SM-3 or SM-4 as of yet. It'd outclass anything PATRIOT can offer. Remove AEGIS SAMs, and the S-300PM/S-400 offer far more capability than PATRIOT. The SAGG guidance method is more advanced than PATRIOT's TVM, the latest missiles offer far more range, the ECCM protection is robust, and the system can engage PGMs and ARMs if needbe (although in practice they'd likely be targeted by co-located short-range systems like Tor or Buk-M1). Vulnerability to detection by ISR assets? PATRIOT has the same problem. That's something you live with as a SAM system that must radiate in order to kill things. "Outdated" electronics? Just because it's older doesn't mean it won't work as good or better. Compare the M-16 with the AK-47 in Vietnam. There is a pervasive belief that Russians are backwards and cannot make anything on par with what the West has to offer. That's a biased and incorrect assumption.

Lastly, some of the coverage gaps may close up if Google decides to actually provide more imagery in Russia instead of constantly updating cities in the US and Western Europe. I could do with more coverage of China too, for that matter! But they aren't trying to cover the whole nation, they didn't even manage that with all their SAM deployments in the Cold War. That'd be ridiculously expensive and a waste of time to attempt. Better to concentrate assets where they can protect key targets. That's a tenet of strategic air defense.

Anonymous said...

Sean, the information on the mentioned link only refers to satellite images of the A-153's sites. What I am asking for is a map with the coverage of the system, the area that is protected by the A-135. We know that the range of the 53T6 interceptors is about 80 kilometers, but russian authorities said many times that an area of hundreds if not thousands of kilometers around Moscow is protected. So, what is the real size of this aforementioned area?

Anonymous said...

Sorry. " satellite images of the A-135's sites".

Anonymous said...


- As for S-300P capabilities. Why didn't you specify more precisely what threats? The truth is that S-300P was designed to be able to destroy FB-111 and B-1B bombers and also first generation ALCMs like AGM-86. However this system is unable to deal with true stealth assets like B-2, F-22, F-35, AGM-129 and JASSM which now become standard. You can only guess that S-400 could cope with them but it is almost impossible. Why? I do not even mean its technical characteristics but these deplorable numbers Russia is to replace all S-300P systems. Look how many enemy PGMs can strike targets defended by Russian SAMs. Simply future Russian AD would be easily saturated and targets destroyed in single enemy ALCM/SLCM salvo.

- Firstly, understand fighters are not AWACS planes! They should destroy enemy cruise missiles, not detect them. That is a crucial fact here: Russia lacks significant amount of dedicated AWACS platforms because several active A-50s have no practical value. I am sure only AWACS can be viewed as main AD detection systems in Russian strategic situation. Secondly Zaslon radar can detect older ALCMs at maximum 65 km, not 1200 km range. Moreover each MiG-31 can carry only four R-33 missiles which is too low number to repel spotted ALCMs salvo by four Foxhounds.
Thirdly, no MiG-31BM upgrade is scheduled in Russia. In fact Russia lost capability to produce newer MiG-31M version in 1994 and BM upgrade was canceled in late 1990s due to downfall of needed R&D base.

- Ukraine now tries to join NATO so it is almost certain Russo-Ukrainian military ties will cease to exist in the future unless pro-Russian forces take real power on Ukraine.

- You probably do not know much about Patriot vs. S-300P modernization path. In short, since Cold War's end Patriot was significantly modernized about three times while Russia practically stopped S-300P modernization program for its own forces in 1993. Later variants were only exported abroad. Note many S-300P parameters were worse than Patriot ones even then. You are not right about ECCM issue: S-300P engagement radar works constantly on one of several dozens preprogrammed frequencies (solution found in almost all Soviet SAM systems of that era) while Patriot radar is multiple random PRF design. Therefore S-300P radar can be jammed far more easily. Also PAC-3 anti-missile has active radar guidance which is more advanced and effective than 5V55/48N6 SAGG guidance. Additionally recent PAC-2 GEM+ missiles are surely more reliable in respect to ECCM, detection of low-RCS targets and low-level engagements than 5V55/48N6 missiles.
Besides S-400 system is developed for 20 years and still not fully complete. Up to now Russia deployed only one incomplete firing battery without some crucial elements which indicates this system is still at design stage. To be honest you should compare S-400 to its Western counterparts i.e. SAMP-T and MEADS systems.

- In theory Patriot can be detected by enemy ISR platforms but first Russia now completely lacks such ISR assets so Patriot is safe in this context. Second it is obvious that Russia do not posses modern secured datalink systems of JTDIS/Link-16 class and that is why internal PVO communication is presumably easily detectable by Western ISR platforms. That way NATO could easily locate S-300P batteries dislocation during conflict for example.

- Russian outdated technology is a basic fact! Even USSR was backward in electronics about decade behind the West. Now Russia after 20 years of "military diet" is even more backward. They now import thermal imagers from the West because Russia cannot build them since 30 years for instance. Here you are another good proof: Russian S-300P systems are all older versions than most up to date export variants. Now Russian S-300P is 20-30 years old and not significantly upgraded technology - in S-300P data are stored in magnetic tapes memory! Your AK-47/M16 comparison do not apply here because we talk about far most advanced and complex systems.

- Yes, Russia cannot build Soviet era huge SAM belt but now it seems that future Russian anti-air capabilities will be inadequate even to defend key military and industrial installations. Note your data suggest that Russian ICBM bases and strategic airfields are not screened by SAMs now. What if S-400 batteries will be far less than current S-300P ones?

Sean O'Connor said...

-The S-300P variants stopped being procured for Russian air defense units because they were trying to get the S-400 into service. As it stands right now, two batteries are in service, and the only component they may be missing is the 400-kilometer 40N6 missile. That may be a ruse, however, as the 48N6 was tested to that range in the mid 1980s, meaning that they may already have a 400km capability right now.

-The MiG-31BM is most assuredly an active project, the first examples are at Akhtubinsk for weapons trials as we speak.

-Yes, you can oversaturate the Russian AD network, I never tried to claim otherwise.

-What ISR assets do you think Russia lacks? Don't forget the Kh-31, designed to take out PATRIOT radars, either.

-Moscow, Petropavlovsk, Vladivostok, Murmansk/Sevastopol, Engels AB...defended by S-300P batteries. Mobile ICBMs need no SAM defense as they will be dispersed to field launch sites during war anyway, likely days or weeks before the actual shooting starts. What other major strategic targets are lacking coverage? And do recall that I did mention that this is only an analysis of the presently visible assets, there may be a large number in areas with poor coverage.

Unknown said...

Also, take in the fact that what else are defending the S-300 and other systems? The Buk M1/M2's and Tor-M1/M2's. Those where designed to take out strategic weapons like cruise missiles. And it really is up to the radar to detect stealth planes, and newer radar that is out can easily detect them (apparently the Mig-31 PESA radar can detect stealth targets, so I doubt a S-300 system cannot). Also, keep in mind that these specific systems have a variety of ranges, and depending on the missiles used. It is stated that Russia has the most prestigious missile/air defense system around. Bring in the fact the number of troops and the strategic ballistic missiles (nuclear and non nuclear), will state that no country will make a mistake in attacking Russia.

Anonymous said...

Whats this nonsense about only 120 MiG-31s being in service?

Sean O'Connor said...

There may be as few as 120 active, meaning flyable likely due to amintenance shortages. There are certainly a whole lot more than 120 airframes in existance. Hell, there may be that many on the ramp at Rzhev alone.

There are seven active units as of 2007 flying MiG-31s, meaning that there should be roughly 170 aircraft assigned, with the bulk of the rest from former units sitting at either Nizhny-Novgorod or Rzhev. Once the BM upgrade program really gets going some of those may be returned to service and see old units reactivated. I don't know if 120 active airframes is entirely accurate, but seven operational units (not counting jets assigned to Akhtubinsk or Lipetsk) as of the end of 2007 is a number I have some confidence in.

Anonymous said...

In the early 60s no one in the US believed that USSR could ever bring down a US plane. They were so confident that risked sending U2 spy planes into the Soviet Union. And then the unthinkable happened: A U2 plane shot down by the USSR's AD system.
One should always take into account past events when analyzing the military situation of a country with incomplete data.

Anonymous said...

- You forgot that S-300P acquisition was stopped about 12-14 years ago and no other SAM systems have been bought since then! So Russia was hit by huge generational and hardware gap.

- only one S-400 experimental battery in on duty now. It lacks not only 400 km range missile but also crucial radar system. In fact it is not battle-ready. Besides this Elektrostal localization is a Russian fake unfortunately widely reproduced on the West with unknown reasons. The sole S-400 unit was placed on the Caucasus identically as also unique and incomplete Iskander missiles battery.

- Yes, "on paper" MiG-31BM is still "active" project exactly as Severodvinsk-class nuclear sub and "400 km S-400 missile" are. ;)

- Russia lacks almost all ISR platforms! I can tell you what they have now: several dozens basic photo-reconnaissance Su-24MR tactical planes (many of their recon pods are not in working conditions due to age), several Tu-22MR mainly photo-recon platforms (one of them was shot down during Georgian war - this is a good proof of its really "powerful" recon equipment range). No ELINT, ECM, UAV assets at all because entire Tu-16R, Tu-22R, Tu-95RC, Su-24MR, MiG-25RB and Tu-143 Reis fleet was scrapped. Moreover I doubt H-31P (AS-17) missile is now in Russian inventory in noticeable numbers. This project was finishing in time of USSR's collapse. So I do not think many H-31 missiles was introduced later. In fact H-31 variants were exclusively exported abroad but Russian aviation seems to still use older H-27, H-28 and H-58 missiles or not use them at all (vide Georgia's crisis). I must mention H-31P was readied against first PATRIOT version 20 years ago so it is highly unlikely it is identically good against PAC-3 now without substantial modernization (longer range, better ECCM, GLONASS guidance - look at AGM-88D/E variants for comparison).

- as for strategic bomber bases you forgot to mention Ukrainka, Tiksi, Anadyr and Vorkuta airfields. Moreover what about tactical aviation bases? Mobile ICBM bases and dispersion areas surely need SAM protection because B-2 bomber was designed mainly as SS-24 and SS-25 killer.

Anonymous said...


from where do you derive your info?

Or you have a really good sources withing the Russian Armed Forces or you just don't like them at all?

Anonymous said...

i dont want to disapoint Observer, but...
About very expencive "stealth" nonsence. S-400 detect them as well as updated s-300. but it is not all story. Russia has a lot of other, already active systems, (like Barrier or Nebo which is not mentioned here), these guys can detect any "stealth" object using because radar transmiters located far away from receivers and other tech. There are SEVERAL s-400 on duty already, not one. There are 300+ mig-31, not 120 (and they about to be upgraded). There are S-500 in development. There are a lot of other air defence systems like TOR, Tunguska, Pantcir and so on. There are navy based air defence systems.

You may argue, but there is nothing as powerful as Russian air defence anywhere in the world.

also, there is no F-35 (yet). 20 B-2 can be detected and it is slow and easy target. F-22... it is not a bomber, there is only 113 fighters been produced according to Lokhid Martin and there are only 62% of them is "operational" according to chief pentagon weapons buyer. Now LM wans 8.5 billins "for f-22 improvements". Anyway, nor f-22 or f-35 has a range, unless you beleive Russain PVO would allow them to be refueled :)
P.S. i guess you aren't seriously thinking Russia will not respond with ICBM in case someone would want to "penetrate" its air space? it is not Iraq/Vietnam/Serbia/Korea buddy

Anonymous said...

One of the biggest weapon in the russian air defense is the threat of retaliation with ICBMs. That's a powerfull weapon... maybe this is why russians may got relaxed in the last few years.

Anonymous said...

хорошая работа, Василий

надеюсь, нам еще некоторое время удастся водить янки за нос, убеждая будто у нас против них что-то есть

Anonymous said...

Отличный фотошоп

Unknown said...

Весёлый пост))))))))))))) Шутка понедельника))))))))))увахахахахахаха)))))))))))))))

"Не надо пытаться стать героем, Василий! Просто уничтожь танк!!!" COD4

Anonymous said...

Да ладно, чего там...
Самолёты пропили, ракеты попилили.

Ох, мы все умрём :(

Anonymous said...

бгггг...мощно...пусть народ и впредь так заблуждается :))

web design company said...

Thanks for this post

d1ms said...

There is not need to fly all Mig-31 in relaxed times, they just keep the planes.

"You forgot that S-300P acquisition was stopped about 12-14 years ago and no other SAM systems have been bought since then!" - total nonsence. There are several modernizations already: S-300PM, then S-300PMU, then S-300PMU2, existing S-300 actively modernized up to S-300PMU2 reachin almost S-400 capabilities. There are many S-300 in storage.
This post also failed to mention ground force's PVO, but it is powerful force, Author failed to mention Russian NAVI's PVO, civil radars and many many other "little thinkgs" like classified "Barrier" radar systems which can see any stealth because of it physical principes.

So Russia was hit by huge generational and hardware gap.

Anonymous said...

Бойтесь )) у нас весь город ракеты строит.

Anonymous said...

Бойтесь. У нас весь город ракеты строит!

Anonymous said...

Yankees you are pride with your junk technology but even the old Russian weapon in Yougoslavia knocked vaunted Steatlh f-117,
I tell you as big secret,
becouse tired of looking at your mental anguish
You Yankees have no stealth technology!!!, my dear western friends it a big hoax,like starwars
Your Pentagon closed down stealth tech programs.

Our PVO ready hunt down all your marvelous comics aircrafts with batmans or nightmans,
Like in past U-2)))

and your tomahawk are simply jammed with GPS-jamm like in Yougoslavia and they are fly nowwhere!)))
for example
Cruise missile to hit in chineese ambassy in Yougoslavia war.

Patriot is suck in comparison to S-300. Run Wikipedia and see)

You can endlessly looking at old Satmaps but Russia is so vast
and our Topols so mobile)))
no you cant search any of our PVO-complex.

Sean O'Connor said...

-Stealth aircraft are not invisible. Fly one close to an S-75 or S-125 and they will get shot down.

-The stealth programs were not shut down, what is your source I wonder?

-Yes, a U-2 was brought down by S-75s. After that, manned overflights ceased of the USSR.

-A B-2 hit the Chinese Embassy. Tomahawks are able to hit targets without GPS input, just like JDAMs. GPS jammers are not that big of a deal, sorry.

-Patriot is inferior to late-model S-300Ps, I would never claim otherwise. Wikipedia is a hilariously inferior source, try reading the S-300P analysis on this site, done with Russian source material.

-Topols are mobile, as are the newer RS-24s, but garrisons for the weapons are known and can be identified. Doesn't help find the missiles when deployed, of course.

Anonymous said...

Sean very good work,
but when you write about USA Strategic Air defence?
We tired to wait.

Anonymous said...

about GPSjamm
In 1999, many newspapers have already written, the jamming signal (jammers - in English) signals the U.S. satellite navigation system GPS NAVSTAR - simple low-power (about watts) transmitters shifted carrier frequency of 1576-1577 mc, the output of the GPS completely out of action. These jammers made and installed Serb hams after they were touched by the government on national TV.
Another "beautiful" according to the Guardian newspaper, the method consisted of pulling anti-radar bombs and missiles with microwave ovens, located on vacant lots and open doors that radiate at a frequency of 2460 megacycles (this frequency falls within the range homing 400-10000 mc anti-radar missiles) and misleading pilots, missiles and the Pentagon. Recall that the information can be found at
No less than "beautiful" has been catching "Tomahawk" in the network, stretching across the river near the bridge. "Tomahawk" to strike, the bridge is flying along the river is trapped in the net and falls into the water, like rotten perch.
Advantage of the Yugoslavs and the experience of the war the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany, when the boy fashioned out of snow guns, using as a "trunk" logs. Who could, sculpted out of snow tanks and other military equipment. Many thousands of bombs Hitler's pilots have spent time, bombarding the snow. In 1999, NATO pilots bombed here are "tanks" - the skeleton of the old "car" with a block of wood stuck in it.

Sean O'Connor said...

Not doing the USA, because there is no strategic SAM network anymore. Might eventually do a historical piece on the BOMARC network or the NIKE network, but there is nothing currently emplaced apart from three SLAMRAAM sites around DC.

Yes, NATO had targeting issues in the FRY. That's no big secret. The AA nets used to catch Tomahawks were pretty hilarious. GPS jammers...again, not so effective. JDAMs, for example, are actually INS guided and GPS aided, so if you take away the GPS they lose accuracy but are still precision-class weapons. Aircraft still use INS for navigation as a complement or backup for GPS as well, so they won't really be affected either. The whole "we can jam GPS" thing is not really a big deal outside of propaganda outlets.

Anonymous said...

Question to Sean O'Connor
The "Beacon of democracy"
has not Air Defense network ?
And Russian barbarians have it? Well what a shame.
11 september prove this.

Sean O'Connor said...

I'm not sure that had anything to do with a lack of a SAM network. And who is calling Russians barbarians?

Anonymous said...

Question to Sean O'Connor

What's going on in the Yamantau mountain complex?


Anonymous said...

"...there are significant gaps in coverage which could be exploited by a potential adversary... not having to deal with SAM batteries enroute will result in more aircraft being available to prosecute the target.."

your assume that all SAM would stay same place even in the time of crysys. I don't think it is correct. When enemy would try to bring any force close to Russian borders, SAMs would spread across the map making your picture obsolete and giving headache to enemy millitary planners.

As mentioned above, you didn't calculated so called "army air defence". Which has smaller range than big brothers, S-300/400, but still very powerful. Army has everything, from Buk-3m to Stinger-like misciles.

" unlikely that Russia would be able to effectively deploy enough strategic SAM batteries to mount a contiguous defense of both its borders and the strategic targets likely to be struck during a time of conflict..." the problem for enemy planners: they would never know where and when their planes would be hit by hidden S-300. And how many such SAMs would be located in that area. They might "indentyfy" rubber, fake S-300 standing on the open and send B-2 to bomb it. Resulting bomber loss.

"...even if an attempt was made to mount this type of barrier air defense, it is likely that the deployed assets would not have sufficient overlapping coverage to deny an inbound strike package access to Russian airspace should a small number of SAM systems be incapacitated or destroyed..."

first of all, we need think about whole process of destroying SAM, like S-300. Big problem to even find it, because it is highly mobile and cam move to new location in 5 minutes. So, forget about sattelites. Spy planes? SAM would shut them down. Cruise misciles? No, these guys only good on well known targets. Something like F-22/35? they don't have range to come close. SAM will fire and kill them first. B-2? sorry, he can't find target himself... And so on.

Even if S-300 have been found and somebody managed to drop a bomb on it, it is not an end of the story. Because this same usually travels with friends, like TOR, Tunguska etc. These guys shuts down everthing which might present danger for S-300, even cruise misciles.

"...if you take away the GPS they lose accuracy but are still precision-class weapons..." instead of 1-3 meter accuracy you will be 10-50 meter accurrate. So, you miss and miss a lot. By the way, SAMs like S-300 is designed to survive exposions nearby

Sean O'Connor said...

"your assume that all SAM would stay same place even in the time of crysys. I don't think it is correct. When enemy would try to bring any force close to Russian borders, SAMs would spread across the map making your picture obsolete and giving headache to enemy millitary planners."

First off, this article is being heavily updated. A lot more SAM sites have been located since it was published! Also, I did state that I was only dealing with what I could see, and mentioned that there are likely many more systems undiscovered. And I do mention that S-300Ps are likely to be moved around.

"As mentioned above, you didn't calculated so called "army air defence". Which has smaller range than big brothers, S-300/400, but still very powerful. Army has everything, from Buk-3m to Stinger-like misciles."

I did mention that they'd be around, though.

"the problem for enemy planners: they would never know where and when their planes would be hit by hidden S-300. And how many such SAMs would be located in that area. They might "indentyfy" rubber, fake S-300 standing on the open and send B-2 to bomb it. Resulting bomber loss."

I mention that it would be very important to track the deployments of S-300P series batteries in order to have any idea of where they are.

"B-2? sorry, he can't find target himself... And so on."

The B-2 can self-designate targets. It was designed with the idea of hunting down mobile Topol launchers. A radiating SAM battery poses a much easier find.

"Even if S-300 have been found and somebody managed to drop a bomb on it, it is not an end of the story. Because this same usually travels with friends, like TOR, Tunguska etc. These guys shuts down everthing which might present danger for S-300, even cruise misciles."

That is correct, and I think I mention that in my S-300P analysis piece (August or September of 2009 I think, maybe in 2008?).

"instead of 1-3 meter accuracy you will be 10-50 meter accurrate. So, you miss and miss a lot. By the way, SAMs like S-300 is designed to survive exposions nearby"

10-50 meters is not precision-class accuracy. The whole "we can jam the GPS and eliminate the JDAM threat" is a bunch of BS. And yes, a lot of hardened S-300P sites are built that way to prevent near-misses from damaging the systems. I mention that in the S-300P site analysis piece. A lot of those details were left out of this one because I'd already written them, and this was a broad overview anyway.

Anonymous said...

Ok, sorry, I didn't read your S-300 analysys, didn't even know it exists. Only read this page. Just wanted to stress the fact what there will be a lot of fake rubber, inflatable S-300 mulages standing everywhere. They will radiate and will look as real S-300 for both radars and IR sensors. But bombing chap Inflatable S-300 means nothing...
Also, existing SAM sites surely Won't be used in real crysys, SAM will spread everywhere, in the forests, in the towns and under haystacks.
By the way, if I was wrong and B-2 can actually search to targets comparing to f-117 therefore he will have to radiate himself, use radar, and became even more visible for passive detectors. Not mention what B-2 already detectable by L-band russian radars and IR sensors. Let's not forget it is sloow sub-sonic bomber and only can carry gravity bombs, no missciles, no cruise missciles and no long range CM like Russian bombers (or b-52H) can carry. Therefore B-2 must come way in range of Russian PVO, approach SAM by ~100km or less. And there are only 20 such machines each cost more than billion dollar. That means what if the one would send B-2 to hunt for Russian SAMs it's likely cause eithe pure billion bomber loss or one S-300 per one B-2 exchange. 20 B-2 vs hundreds of S-300...

Anonymous said...

57° 9'1.96"N 65°14'17.17"E P-14

Anonymous said...

hi sean! very good post! i've just ran over your argument with observer. it just strikes me, how much effort people are ready to put into a discussion, and have no sense of openness/open-mindedness. Russian as always are very good chess players, and i think they are doing a great job in decieving the opponent.And it goes both ways, overestimation and underestimation depending on the use.
Regarding the "dark horses" of the russian stategic sam network, i cast doubt about the garisson force deployement as a surpise attack would likely catch offguard those units, and the tactical ones as well. but regarding the s400 units, i think the figures are higher regarding their avialability.anyways, i guess you'll find it out on google
good luck

Anonymous said...

Sean, been reading your stuff for a long time now, must say very nice job on Russia considering limitations of open source. Unfortunately flame posts will always be present. Since most of the specs of 'stealth' aircraft and the various SAM systems is classified, one can only make speculation. Keep up the good work.

nico said...

Great job, it's going to take me some time to digest this. My usual dumb questions:

I don't know much on how SAMs work.What exactly do you mean by active site? Is the radar on and missiles ready to fire? Is that active? I thought missiles were stored and brought only when needed for training or crisis. Doesn't leaving them outside use up life potential of the missile? Are SAMS sites near Moscow always on?

How often does Google update pictures? Do they accept requests?

Sean O'Connor said...


-An active site is one with a SAM battery present. For the purposes of imagery analysis, that's all you can base it on. The radar may not be active at the time, but you can't tell that in imagery.

-Active batteries are usually armed. In the S-300P/V series', the missiles are in sealed canisters, so you can keep them on the TELs without reducing their lives. For legacy systems like the S-75 or S-125, some nations do keep some or all of the launchers unloaded to protect the missiles from the elements.

-Google usually updates once or twice a month, and no, they don't take requests.

INCOMING!!!!!!! said...

An absolute Magnum Opus.

Gridlock said...

Fantastic reading, including the stories about microwaves and nets in FRY - is there a good resource for reading up more on that?

The CONUS has no SAM system any more? It's all airborne/AEGIS?

B2 can self-identify targets, F-117 couldn't but it had help, didn't it? They hunted as part of a system, not alone, and the other elements of that system are still black (also retired?).

Gridlock said...

Ah, I forgot that actually the B2's TOPOL-hunting mission depended on AARS so to say the B2 can "self-identify" targets is a bit of a stretch.

Sean O'Connor said...

CONUS has three NASAMS batteries around D.C., but that's it. Those are in the SAM Site Overview file.

B-2 can self-designate using its radar and nav system to extract coordinates for JDAMs. No other help is required. Now, combine that with the B-2's ability to haul around 80 of the 500lb JDAMs, and you have a pretty amusing weapon system.

F-117 could technically self-designate as it had a laser designator, but it had no real ability to hunt for targets like the B-2 can. It basically flew to a predetermined target, designated it, and blew it up. In theory it could've used the FLIR/DLIR to find something to kill, but that wasn't really the point of the F-117.

Anonymous said...

Respected, Sean. In advance I am sorry for my English, because I use the translator.
Taking into account limitation of the data, at you good enough analysis has turned out.
It is assured that in case of possession you the real data about system, structure, quantity, real taktiko-technical characteristics of fighting units (officially they were always underestimated on 20-30 % and at the time of the USSR and now to have jokers in a sleeve) both to used strategy and tactics of divisions to antiaircraft and antimissile defence of Russia, you could carry out fuller the analysis and make a real picture of possibilities of antiaircraft and antimissile defence of Russia. I think that it would convince yes the greatest sceptics of your country. But all have own secrets.
Yes, not all is good in air defence of Russia as it would be desirable for us, but we are able to solve problems and not to stop on the reached.

As to Ukraine I can assure you that at any government in this country the overwhelming majority of Ukrainians always will be with Russian, because we brothers. That prove events for last year in Ukraine (but most likely you cannot really estimate conditions in Ukraine from your newspapers and television).

All kind, Alexander (Ukraine, the city of Sevastopol).

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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Indian exporters said...

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Anonymous said...

No US based SAMS (other than DC)? What about those units physically in the US? Is there no plan to deploy them locally in a crisis?

No SAM defenses seems negligent. We had 10,000 Nike Hercules in the US, many with nuclear warheads, up until the 1970s. Do we not have similar numbers of Patriot, and/or are they all overseas? (honest question, I really don't know)

Anonymous said...

I personally do not think this Sean O'connor man has any millitary knowledge about Russia's millitary capabilities. The prove of this fact is this, if truely Russia is soo much devoid of Air Defence capabilities why then should this one nation be a damned thorn in the flesh of the US and all its Western Allies. You amass or rally for assistance to fight an enemy you know is far more strong than you are. The fact that the US is bribing and corrupting gov't officials of the former Soviet Union to place missile components on their soils close to Russia is an indication that the US with all its allies is still weak when it comes to Russia. Besides all these, mister, you acknowledge the fact that whatever the US and the can invent can be replicated by Russia. Another fact, whereas the US rely mostly on foreign scientists or scientists born of foreigners including the vast amount of scientists from its satellite states from the West, Russia on the other hand go solo all the way.So please broaden your scope in your analyses and comments and stop the petty and unscientific assessements, thank you.

Ronny Larbi said...

Mr what? ooooh O,Connor.You are a maverick joker in your god damned analyses, this is is total ignorance in play,