The Intercept Point Cannot Be Changed:
The Moscow ABM System Is Equipped With Unique Tracking Equipment

Title: Funding for Replacement of Aging Missile Tracking System Equipment Urged Moscow Rossiyskaya Gazeta 04 Feb 00
by Boris Talov

The supersensitive equipment of the suburban Moscow Don-2N radar, one of the key radars in the missile attack warning system, tracks any ballistic object that lifts off from the surface of the planet. What country it belongs to and from where it is launched--from one of the continents or from waters of the World Ocean--is not important. The important thing is to be sure that the launch does not present an immediate threat to the security of Russia and the CIS countries.

The yellow mark of an ICBM, which, judging from everything, was launched from a submarine, crawled slowly across a map of Europe that blazed up on an enormous electronic screen. The map picture is deliberately distorted; such a projection is most convenient for tracking the flight of an ICBM. Now the yellow band has crossed the border of Poland, passed over the country, and now has crept slowly onto the territory of Belarus. At the same time, a necklace of red dots flared up on the screen--jammers have gone into operation in an attempt to hamper detection of the missile. But the very powerful computer complex continued tracking the dot flying in the direction of the center of Russia, clearly picking it out among the light and heavy decoys. The map on the screen became larger in scale by the minute; the missile came ever closer.

This is just one of the training programs on which missile attack warning system (SPRN) officers train. There also are other training programs in which there are both more missiles and more decoys, and their flight paths are different. Information from orbiting satellites and from ground tracking stations located in various corners of Russia constantly comes to the SPRN command post. The unified system is constantly on alert status; should something happen, the officers are obligated to notify the country's and Army's supreme leadership momentarily about a threat that has arisen.

...Now the yellow mark has disappeared--the Don equipment has guided an interceptor missile to the uninvited guest and it successfully destroyed the target.

The recent U.S. interceptor missile test that ended in total failure showed once more that the creation of ABM complexes is more than a difficult matter. It cannot be done to give a momentary political advantage, in this case for the election ambitions of U.S. presidential candidates. The U.S. administration's intention to withdraw from the bilateral 1972 ABM Treaty runs contrary to Russian policy interests. The country's leadership confirmed Russia's tough position in this matter once again during the Moscow visit of U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that just ended.

American attempts to "stretch" the antimissile umbrella over the country's entire territory merely generate ironic smiles in officers who have had occasion to serve at the planet's most effective antimissile complex, the Don-2N multifunctional battle management [strelbovaya] radar. The radar is a component part of the SPRN and at the same time one of the most important nodes of the A-135 system, which covers Russia's capital reliably against a missile/nuclear strike.

The transient process of intercepting an ICBM must proceed in an automatic mode. Having prepared all calculations, having sorted out the warheads and numerous decoys, and having determined the intercept flight path and point, the system "brain" will issue appropriate orders to long-range interceptor missiles designed to destroy targets in high layers of the atmosphere or in outer space, and to high-speed interceptor missiles with a medium radius of action. Everything will depend on the situation, and there can be no mistake here. But the man sitting at the console makes the important decision on giving the command to launch the interceptor missiles.

...The world learned for the first time about the very possibility of intercepting ballistic missiles in the summer of 1961, when CPSU CC First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev remarked at a press conference as if inadvertently: "Our missile can hit a fly's eye in outer space." Such a momentous statement by the head of a superpower became possible following the completion of integrated tests of System "A." On 4 March 1961 the V-1000 interceptor missile created under the direction of Academician P. D. Grushin in OKB-2 [an experimental design bureau] destroyed the nose section of an R-12 ballistic missile launched from the Kapustin Yar missile range. Several more tests followed these, with R-5 missiles used as targets. It is noteworthy that only 23 years later did the Americans succeed in repeating something similar.

In 10 years our scientists succeeded in developing the unique A-35 multichannel system for the ABM defense of Moscow. It was accepted for experimental operation by a CPSU CC and USSR Council of Ministers Decree of 10 June 1971.

The Americans, who had not even dreamed of such technical perfection, had to sit down at the negotiating table, and the ABM Treaty was signed in 1972. It is a most important document, which became the foundation of the entire nuclear balance on the planet. It provided that each country can use ABM assets to cover only one area of its territory. We deployed an ABM defense around Moscow and the U.S. leadership decided to cover Grand Forks Missile Base.

The 1972 Treaty permitted modernizing existing ABM defense systems. The A-35M came to replace our A-35 and was placed on alert status in 1978. The A-135, capable of coping with U.S. ICBM's equipped with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, also appeared after that.

The suburban Moscow Don-2N multifunctional radar began to be built in the late 1970's. It was impossible to conceal construction of that scale from the lenses of U.S. spy satellites. It required pouring 50,000 cubic meters of concrete, running 12,000 km of cable and installing 32,000 tonnes of metalwork. But overseas they took a long time guessing what kind of "monster" the Russians were erecting next to their capital. And when they understood, they fell into deep thought, realizing that this supersecret installation was the world's most powerful and effective ABM defense radar and at the same time a most precise instrument for monitoring outer space. A noteworthy fact indicates its capabilities. During one experiment the Don-2N equipment was able to detect orbiting metal balls 5 mm in diameter. The U.S. complex designed to perform similar functions "noticed" only 10-mm balls. By the way, our radar's actual capabilities--and it is capable of a great deal--are being kept secret. The only thing that is known for certain is that in all the years of its alert duty the radar has not managed to get a fix on a single "flying saucer." All detected objects have been successfully identified.

Following someone's example, the Don-2N multifunctional radar was christened the "Cheops pyramid" here. The Americans nicknamed it the "eighth wonder of the world," and another nickname, the "CATHOUSE," also originated overseas. On constant alert status, the complex is an enormous city situated at different levels with an extremely complex infrastructure. It has its own autonomous power plants with enormous output, its own water supply system, and very powerful refrigerating plants called upon to rid the equipment of excess heat. It also has its own fully autonomous repair plant. Should anything happen, armored doors and gates will close and the "pyramid" will go over completely to an autonomous mode, maintaining contact with the outside world only over communications lines with multiple redundancy.

...Steps ring hollowly beneath the arches of an enormous tunnel. The Don now is operating in one of the modes customarily considered safe for health. But at any moment, on command, the combat crew can transfer the radar, one of the main elements of the state's information-defense system, into a much more active state. An example would be if it is necessary to find out in greater detail what is happening in the upper layers of the atmosphere, in outer space. Then it is not recommended that you move around on top close to the "pyramid."

Despite rumors, the superpowerful radar does not "irradiate" surrounding settlements. The garrison where officers and their wives and children live also is located not far from it. What is foremost in mind here on post is by no means the proximity to an installation hypothetically dangerous to health, but problems much more familiar to our Armed Forces, above all housing. There no longer is practically any hope that the officers' club ever will be completed.

A great deal was promised, though, such as when Mikhail Gorbachev visited the radar in 1987. He said thanks, was impressed with the servicemen's social problems, and gave hope. Inspired, he set off for the next talks with the Americans, where the Don became one of the Soviet delegation's trump cards. But the promises just remained promises.

...In creating the unique complex, our scientists and designers put into it an enormous operating life of at least ten years. But the most advanced and sophisticated equipment has its own service life. Any engineer knows full well that the closer the date for the end of a device's operation, the more the likelihood of failure and the more funds and efforts must be put into periodic servicing and maintenance, or even into equipment repairs.

You will not deceive this computer complex. While accomplishing a multitude of tasks for missile attack warning and for monitoring space objects, it also keeps a vigilant eye on all radar equipment and on the "health" of the interceptor missiles. With the slightest suspicion that something is unserviceable, the machine demands that the corresponding unit be replaced with a reserve unit. But the stockpile of these reserve units in working condition must be constantly replenished at the warehouses. Where are they to be gotten, though, with the present meager funding? What is to be used to pay the manufacturing plants?

Our designers and military can only envy for now the enormous funding which the Americans intend to put into creating the national missile defense system. Such work, which runs counter to the 1972 Treaty, is not being done in our country; this path is considered a dead end. There is the possibility of an alternative answer, and there also are much higher priority directions to fund. But the funding is limited, including for the country's Missile-Space Defense Troops, who now are part of the RVSN [Strategic Missile Troops].

Only one thing can be said for certain--the people of the Missile-Space Defense Troops will not let us down. Just so the equipment does not let us down...