Four vehicles – two types of “Lotos-S” and two “Peony NCC” – will be in near space at an altitude of about 100 kilometers. They will allow the Russian armed forces to observe objects on the surface of the Earth the size of a car, or even less. The first satellite went into orbit back in 2009. In 2018, the second unit took up combat duty. It is believed that the new system will gain the full potential of the new system after the launch in the coming months of the remaining two units. Thus, one hundred percent of the operating power of the complex will acquire no later than the first month of the next 2020.
In fact, “Liana” replaced the Soviet “Legend” target designation system, which was commissioned more than forty years ago. The previous complex was one of the most advanced for the 70s of the last century, however, it had a number of significant drawbacks. For example, the orbital altitude of the flight of the apparatus of the system on average did not exceed 25 kilometers, which led to accelerated wear and failure of spacecraft.
In addition, the “Legend” could not see through the clouds and under the surface of the Earth. The size of the objects available to detect the Soviet space radar could not be less than a threshold value of several tens of meters.
There were also significant problems with the introduction of satellites into orbit after the end of the Soviet Union. The fact is that Zenit launch vehicles for Legends were produced by the Ukrainian Yuzhmash. Termination of defense cooperation with Kiev led to the impossibility of further use of the established launch schemes, although certain attempts were made to replace them.
As a result, the “Liana” that came into being can be considered as the next stage in the development of the capabilities of the Russian space technology.
In addition, our country was simply forced to respond to the challenges that the Pentagon had set for it, which developed and implemented the La Crosse satellite system. At the same technical level, already inaccessible to the old “Legend”, there was also the French “defense industry”, which successfully launched its own geographic information system Osiris.
Despite the fact that, for understandable reasons, most of the parameters of the Russian complex are covered by the “top secret” stamp, some data, as well as a comparison with foreign analogues, make it possible to judge the scale of the space program of radar reconnaissance and its current capabilities.
Presumably, the Liana systems have not only a global coverage, but, like the American and French counterparts, the opportunity to observe the earth’s surface through a cloud cover. This option is due to the fact that the devices have a synthetic aperture, which increases the angular resolution of the radar station. The use of such a technique allows to obtain a detailed image of the object on the surface, and sometimes even when it is shallowly located in the subsoil layer.
Anyway, the American system La Crosse mentioned above possesses just such opportunities. It includes six vehicles capable of “seeing” an object of less than one meter in size in any weather and at any time of the day. Moreover, the shooting is conducted by a strip, the width of which reaches 100 kilometers. French Osiris has similar performance.
The need to use this kind of technology is directly related to the new type of warfare, which is now being actively implemented by the Pentagon as a new defense doctrine. This is a network-centric organization of command of a military conflict. For the first time this method was applied by Americans in Iraq. Instead of a rigid vertical and the organization of the transfer of decisions from top to bottom, the principle of simultaneous collection and processing of information was applied while the centers of responsibility for headquarters at various levels were naturally preserved.
This means that each combat unit (from soldier to general), each element of the tracking system and the artificial intelligence of each combat vehicle together form a single information space, allowing the command to observe the real and every second changing situation on the battlefield. In addition, decisions made by the command are immediately communicated to each soldier through the internal network.
Naturally, each hierarchical link has its own access index and, as a result, its own level of operational responsibility. Of course, the most important role in the network-centric control system is assigned to radar reconnaissance satellites. The combined experience of warfare in Iraq, Syria, Libya and other hot spots on the planet allowed the Americans to develop new Lacrosse spacecraft using Martin Marietta.
After the final commissioning of Liana, Russia will also be able to organize full-scale hostilities on a network-centric basis.
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