This is Part III of our review of the main achievements of Ukraine’s defense industry in 2017 in its armored vehicle, aviation, and shipbuilding branches, and the production of precision-guided munitions, radio positioning and communication technology, and air defense systems. We’ve reviewed the 2017 performance of more than one hundred Ukroboronprom production facilities, dozens of plants represented in the Ukraine Defense Industry League, Ukraine Munition and Military Equipment Manufacturers Association, some Ukrainian developers and defense industry plants. We have gathered and analyzed a lot of open-source information to demonstrate that Ukraine is rapidly developing its military technology potential and improving its defense capability against the backdrop of Russia’s aggression. A strong army is needed for the liberation of the national territory, because “You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.”
The first and second parts of our review were dedicated to achievements of Ukraine defense industry’s armored vehicle, aircraft building and repair branches. The third part presents major achievements of radar, radio communication, and air defense industries.
Air Defense Systems, Radio Detection and Ranging, Electronic Warfare, and Radio Communication
Ukraine is one of the few countries in the world with a full cycle of the production of weaponry and equipment for air defense and electronic warfare. This capability relies on the vast research and production capacity of Ukraine’s defense industry represented by companies, such as Iskra, Ukrspetstekhnika, Luch Design Bureau, Vizar Zhuliany Plant, Aerotechnika-MLT, and many others.
Ukraine’s airspace is defended, first of all, by surface-to-air missile systems, such as S-200V and S-300 (in PT, PS, and V1 versions), and Buk-M1. According to the data of the British International Institute of Strategic Studies provided in The Military Balance 2017 overview of the military and defense potential, Ukraine’s Air Force has 250 S-300 systems of various versions and 72 Buk-M1 systems. These figures might seem impressive, but many of these air defense systems were produced in the Soviet times; it is vitally important to keep overhauling and upgrading the available fleet of surface-to-air missiles (SAM), developing and producing new air defense systems because similar Western systems are expensive and the access to the Western market is limited. This is the only viable containment strategy.
Today, Ukraine’s defense industry is able to overhaul at least 4 SAM systems per year, significantly contributing to the national air defense capability. In addition to the above-mentioned systems, other actively overhauled SAM systems include 9K35 Strela-10, 9K330 Tor, 2K22 Tunguska surface-to-air missile and gun system (SAMG), S-125, as well as MANPADS, such as Strela-2m, Igla-1, and others.
Ukraine’s defense industry managed to start manufacturing difficult-to-obtain spare parts for the renovation and replacement of components made in Russia; as a result, almost a quarter of the available Buk-M1 SAM systems have been overhauled. The reconstructed systems have a significantly increased range compared to the original version. The kill probabilities using Buk-M1 SAM system are 80–95 percent for enemy fighter aircraft and at least 40 percent for ALCM cruise missiles with the ability to efficiently intercept anti-radiation missiles. Its effective range is up to 35 km to the heights of up to 22 km.
Ukrainian developers are implementing an in-depth upgrade program focusing on the substantial range expansion, automation of crew workstations, integration of computer-aided control systems, installation of new thermal imaging systems, modern digital communication and navigation equipment, and laser range finders, etc. In 2017, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense made a decision to commission extending the life of air defense guided interceptor missiles for Buk-M1.
Notably, apart from the major upgrade effort for Buk-M1, there are other projects being implemented at the same time. A new ZR-27 surface-to-air missile is under joint development by Luch Design Bureau, Artem State Joint Stock Holding Company, and Arsenal Research and Production Group on the basis of R-27 air-to-air missile, The development of Poltava mid-range SAM systems, as well as Bars and Kolibri MANPADS are underway. Ukraine’s defense industry is capable of producing upgraded 9V55R missiles for S-300 SAM systems; in some respects, they are even better than Russia’s 48N6E2 surface-to-air guided interceptor missile designed for S-400 systems.
In 2017, Vizar plant has been actively renovating dozens of 5V55R surface-to-air interceptor missiles with the extension of their operating life for S-300 SAM systems in order to strengthen Ukraine’s air defense capability. The efficiency of these missiles was confirmed at the joint Shabla-2017 exercises in Bulgaria where four Ukraine-made missiles hit their respective targets.
TOV Radionix (Kyiv) together with KB Luch undertook an in-depth upgrade of S-125M Pechora SAM system now exported to other countries.
Major strengths of this SAM system include the use of upgraded 5V27D missiles with semi-active or active homers and the FCR-125 radar detection system. As a result, the SAM system is capable of destroying air targets within the 40 km range at up to 25 km heights.
Aerotekhnika-MLT (Kyiv) developed a tactical control station for the newest mid-range Dnipro SAM system produced cooperatively by KB Luch, DP LNIRTI (Lviv), Iskra, and AvtoKRAZ.
The system is capable of finding at 150 km a tactical fighter flying at 7 km, and hitting the target at a height up to 25 km. The system is capable of firing 12 guided missiles at six targets at any time of the day or night in bad weather and under the active electronic counter-countermeasures.
In addition, the company has been actively supplying radar equipment to the Ukrainian Air Force, carrying out active internal tests of Obrii, its first UAV jet, designed for the configuring and checking combat modes of SAMGs, and for training the combat crews. Notably, the company has developed its own suite of solutions for upgrading the existing fleet of analog P-18 radars to the P-180U level.
Ukrspetstekhnika holding company has been supplying its newest jam-resistant P-18 Malakhit surveillance radar to the Ukrainian Army. This high-mobility radar is designed for the automated detection, positioning, and tracking of up to 256 air targets per one zone overview.
The system is capable of detecting air targets relying on stealth technologies. It also offers digital data processing and transmission capability. The radar can detect MiG jet fighters flying above 10 km flight levels and up to 400 km away. The deployment time with a crew of five is 53 minutes; the distance to the remote control station is 1,000 m.
Balakliia Repair Plant is actively developing its capability for surface-to-air missile system renovation, repair, and upgrade services for the Ukrainian Army. Since early 2014, the company has handed over more than a hundred SAM systems to the Ukrainian Army having performed the state defense contracts in full and on time. In August 2017, the plant carried out acceptance tests of the next batch of ZSU-23-4 Shilka self-propelled anti-aircraft systems to be delivered to the Ukrainian Army.
Current plans call for using this 21-tonne heavy self-propelled antiaircraft system to repel Russian occupation troops in spite of its mature age and its designated purpose of the destruction of air targets. This vehicle with a quadruple 23-mm auto-cannon capable of delivering fire at a rate of 3400 rounds per minute and reaching targets on ground up to 2 km away is quite a formidable battle asset for the modern stabilized war.
A state-of-the-art 3D 79K6 Pelikan surveillance radar made by Iskra Research and Production Company (Zaporizhzhia) was delivered to the Ukrainian Army in April 2017.
This radar is based on a digital phased-array system designed to operate under natural or artificial electromagnetic interference. It can be used to perform the air defense tasks efficiently, supply target guidance to SAMs, ensure flight safety with the close interaction between the Armed Forces and air defense units. One of this radar’s core features is the use of a state-of-the-art multiple beam klystron transmitter with a higher average transmission power, which is more than triple of the average transmission power of transistor-based radars. The efficient suppression of passive countermeasures and the detection of targets with low radial velocities is based on a high-stability transmission system with a high probing pulse rate. The target identification range is up to 400 km; the system deployment time is up to 30 minutes.
In August 2017, Iskra delivered to the Ukrainian Army the first two stations of Mandat EW System (R-330UV1M and R-330UV2M); their first seven prototype stations were developed and manufactured by Topaz in Donetsk. After the start of the Russian armed aggression, the production of the system was moved to the Iskra facility in Zaporizhzhia.
The main purpose of the system is to detect and jam HF and VHF communication lines with fixed operation frequencies and lines with the programmed operation frequency tuning, as well as barrage jamming. Stations of this system are based on KRAZ-6320 chassis.
In addition, Iskra is developing a mobile 3D 80K6T radar with a transistor transmitter which can be transported on a C-130 Hercules.
The new radar station has high operating, tactical, and technical performance; it is adapted for the field use to a maximum extent. In addition, the company from Zaporizhzhia demonstrated in 2017 its new high-mobility MR-18 surveillance radar capable of detecting and tracking air targets, including those using stealth technologies.
On a separate note, Iskra is also upgrading 19Zh6 (ST68U) radars widely used in the Ukrainian Army to the 35D6M level at a rate of up to 20 radars per year.
In 2017, Infozakhyst research and production center presented Khortytsia-M signals intelligence system based on Iveco EuroTrakker off-road chassis. The system is designed for the automated monitoring of the electromagnetic environment, detecting, finding, and analyzing radio signals in real time.
It decodes digital signals of various standards and automatically determines the coordinates and spatial orientation of the system’s equipment. When working with other similar systems, it is capable of determining the coordinates of HF and VHF radio sources. The system is designed to comfortably accommodate a crew of four.
RP-3000 Plastun small-sized radio reconnaissance tactical system has also been field-tested in the combat zone in the east of Ukraine. This system not only detects communication and data transmission equipment of the enemy’s sabotage and reconnaissance forces but also determines UAV coordinates and jams their frequencies. The system is also efficient in detecting the data transmissions of AZK 7, Russia’s new automatic acoustic battery detection system.
The combat operations in Ukraine’s East have demonstrated that the application of novel technologies, including the protected communication and electronic warfare systems, can contribute to the general success of the ground forces. The radio-relay communication, which is an important element of the command and control, has been found in practice to be really important. It has a priority when the tactical situation prevents wire lines from being deployed. Thus, the radio-relay communication is used to connect unit command centers to the landline network.
R-414MU SHF line-of-sight radio-relay station produced by VAT Olymp was adopted by the Ukrainian Army in 2017. This system is designed for the long-range digital data transmission and reception by means of the deployment of multihop main radio-relay lines with digital data flows branching off.
The station offers at least a 30–40 km half-open radio-link interval with the digital information transmission speed of at least 155 Mbps and the radio-relay communication speed of at least 34 Mbps. The station comprises A1M1 and M2M1 equipment vehicles, M2 antenna vehicle, and a transporter vehicle.
SRSh-5000 (R-402) broadband radio-relay station developed and manufactured by Telekart-Prylad (Odesa) was also adopted in 2017.
It is designed to support digital radio-relay link in stationary and field military and civilian systems. The station supports long-range radio channels with a throughput of up to 300 Mbps at the distance of up to 35 km per interval. Depending on its designated use, the station can be offered in various design versions and fitted with an MTA-8 telescopic mast as an option. The company has delivered more than 200 sets of this relay station.
Everest Limited (Kyiv) started supplying telecommunication suites TYP-1 and TYP-2 to the Ukrainian army in 2017. TYP-1 and TYP-2 telecommunication suites
The first one is a field router for the tactical command and control with the VoIP approach. It is intended to provide an open telephony and data transmission capability to checkpoints, platoon and company posts. TYP-2 is a battalion-level system supplied in a container to offer open telephony and data transmission to tactical command posts of battalions, and to organize the operation of special communication networks. In October 2017, the company became a successful bidder in a tender for the supply of several dozens of TYP-2 equipment suites to the Ukrainian Army.
It bears mentioning that the close cooperation between Everest Limited and Aselsan, one of the largest Turkish defense equipment manufacturers, has made it possible to offer state-of-the-art tactical digital SDR radio sets of NATO standards to units of the Ukrainian Army. Aselsan 9661 radio sets demonstrated the best performance in terms of the range of the stable communication and the ability to work in a massive EW environment during tests organized by the Ukrainian Army in May 2017.
These radio sets support communication in various modes in the frequency range from 30 to 512 MHz at a distance of 50 km; they support the FHSS (frequency hopping spread spectrum) mode to improve the protection against hostile jamming and guarantee reliable information encoding and data transmission. Under contracts signed earlier, Aselsan supplied a test batch of VHF-range tactical radio sets for one of the brigades of the Ukrainian Army. A contract between Aselsan and Spetstekhnoexport for the purchase of radio sets to the tune of USD 43.6 million to be supplied during 2018 was signed on October 9, 2017, during the visit of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey, to Kyiv. This brought the Ukrainian-Turkish defense cooperation to a new orbit. There are also plans to equip upgraded T-64BV and T-72AMT tanks with these radio sets to reduce their susceptibility to the Russian EW systems in the combat zone.
In April 2017, the U. S. Department of Defense handed over 569 Harris radio sets to the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine to the tune of more than USD 21 million. These modern military radio sets were supplied under the U.S. Government international technical assistance project “Building Capacity of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.”
The radios, including field, car-based, backpack, portable, and stationary radio sets, are intended for mobile squads, technical observation posts, and units of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine in the combat zone in Ukraine’s East, and for the installation on the coastguard vessels. These radio sets help not only to counter the hostile EW effort but also to organize reliable secure telephone communication among units of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, and improve their interaction with units of the Ukrainian Army and the National Guard.
In March 2017, there were reports about the Ukrainian Army’s use of the state-of-the-art automated reconnaissance SN-4003 Bazalt-LPR system manufactured by Orizon-Navigatsiia.
It is designed for the optical/electronic reconnaissance, the provision of the navigation support to units, identification of land marks and targets on site, correction inputs, and for the transmission (exchange) of the information.
Generator Plant state-owned enterprise became a successful bidder in a tender for the supply of 20 UA KIU-5 pulse amplifier klystrons to the Air Force of the Ukrainian Army in 2017; this is basic microwave equipment for the electronic component of the national air defense system—35D6, 36D6, and 19Zh6 radars. A contract to the tune of more than UAH 26,000,000 was made as a result of the tender.
In 2017, the Ukrainian defense industry contributed a lot to strengthen the general defense capabilities, including the restoration and rejuvenation of the equipment of the national air defense system. The funding provided by the state has enabled defense industries and repair bases of military units to improve the technical operability level of the antiaircraft missiles substantially. The midlife repair and restoration activities have covered about 65 percent of the available S-300P and 20 percent of the available Buk-M1 surface-to-air missile systems.
In 2017, at least four S-300PS SAM launchers were handed over to the anti-aircraft missile troops of the Air Force of the Ukrainian Army ; the radar troops were supposed to receive up to 40 new and modern radar systems. Due to the new equipment supplies, Ukraine’s Air Forceincreased its radar inventory by at least 10 percent. A strong group of anti-aircraft missile troops capable of defending against a massive assault of the enemy’s aircraft and cruise missiles was deployed in the combat zone in Ukraine’s East. A new automated control system is being implemented to substantially improve the efficiency of the control of units and contribute to the general development of the combat potential of the air defense forces.
In the context of Russia’s hybrid military aggression, it is strategically important to keep developing the combat capability of the Ukrainian air defense forces as a deterrent reducing the probability of a full-blown open invasion by exponentially increasing the level of the potential unacceptable losses for the Russian Federation.
The next part of the review will be dedicated to the achievements of the shipbuilding industry of Ukraine’s defense industry sector, and successes in the development of the high-precision weapons and small arms.
Translated by Oleksandr Ivanov, edited by Artem Velichko
The publication features photos from: defence-ua.com, olimp-corp.com, mil.telecard.odessa.ua, everest.ua, aselsan.com.tr, dpsu.gov.ua, na.mil.gov.ua, infozahyst.com.
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