Sunday, September 5, 2010

Formidable Liana

An effective naval target search and destroying in blue water is impossible without a global target acquisition and weapon guiding system. In soviet time this role was given to the epic MKRTs 'Legenda' system. It has included two arms: 1) weapon guiding satellites US-A, 2) ELINT satellites, US-P. The weapon guiding subsystem was composed from US-A radar equipped sattelites, developed by NPO Mashine-building (Reutov, Moscow region) and manufactured in San-Petersburg's 'Arsenal' facility.

The ELINT part including US-P satellites ('Tselina-2' in last 1980 and 1990th, GRAU index — 17F17, also US-PU (УС-ПУ), EORSAT) with passive radars and solar batteries has Ukrainian overall design (OKB 'Yuzhnoye') with Russian ELINT payload (TsNIRTI design house):
During the Soviet period, four generations of the Tselina spacecraft, developed by KB Yuzhnoe in Dnepropetrovsk, provided the Soviet military with electronic intelligence. Work on the Tselina-3 spacecraft started in 1985 and its preliminary design was completed in 1989. However with the disintegration of the USSR in 1991, KB Yuzhnoe ended up in the newly independent Ukraine. To secure its strategic assets, the Russian political and military leadership sought to transfer all significant military projects out of the independent republics into Russia. 

- However, despite discontent of the ill wishers in the West, Ukraine successfully  cooperated with Russia in naval ELINT, following to sell more new satellites for Russia strengthens Russian naval power. About 15 new Tselina satellites were launched in Russia after USSR dismantle in 1991 till 2006, where the Russian indigenous program grow its own strength. The last Tselina-2 launch before turn to a new program took place in June 2007 (Cosmos-2428).
During 1993, the TsNIRTI radio technology institute, also known as the Berg institute, completed a preliminary engineering proposal for the Liana system, that was supposed to succeed the Tselina network. The document became the base for a government decree authorizing the full-scale development of the Liana system. Given the Berg institute's previous experience in radio-electronic warfare, the government awarded the organization the status of chief developer of the overall network as well as its associated ground-based hardware and satellites' onboard payloads. Within the organization, Aleksandr Lebed, the head of Department NTO-32, was appointed chief-designer of the Liana network. Yuri Kharitonov, the head of Department 32.1, led the development of the Bars payload. 

... Since the Russian government also wanted the Liana network to succeed US-PM naval ELINT satellites, various conflicting requirements led developers to propose two variations of future satellites -- Lotos and Pion. Pion-NKS (14F139) carrying a radar antenna was expected to replace both the US-A and US-PU satellites, providing electronic intelligence and target guidance for the Russian navy.

...Still, developers hoped to minimize the range of hardware needed for the two sub-systems and give both versions of the satellites the capability to back up each other, while at the same time, Lotos and Pion could still pursue their specific tasks. Such an approach, which had failed during the development of previous generations of ELINT systems in the Soviet period, promised to cut cost and shorten development time.


The weapon guiding sub-network was composed from 'US-A'  active radar satellites with onboard fast neutrons nuclear reactor and thermo-electric generator BES-5 'Buk'. All development was going very hard due to many problems were to overcome. An US-A satellite 'Cosmos-954 with nuclear reactor has fall on Canada in 1978 and more one (Cosmos-1402) - in 1982. Most other satellites after their lifespan  expired were successfully buried on the high orbit.  So those who now point current glitches in 'Liana' development, just don't know the history. Last US-PU Legenda satellite was launched in June 2006 (Cosmos-2421).

The 3rd part of the global reconnaissance and weapon guiding system are 'Kobalt-M' 6.6 t photo-reconnaissance satellites, successfully developed by TsSKB Progress, Samara, and manufactured by Arsenal, St Petersburg. A number of them are launched during last few years. Their successors 'Persona' photo-reconnaissance satellites will work longer time and can be integrated in real time searching&aiming system. First such satellite, marked Cosmos-2441, was launched July, 26-2008. Two launches is planned annually started from 2010-2011.
 However the weak point of 'Legenda' was its pure maritime specialization, it could not ensure weapon guiding over the terrain, but only the ELINT (starting from 'Tselina-2' satellites). The new system has no this weakness. Unlike 'Legenda', the totally new Russian global ELINT and weapon guiding system 'Liana will work as ELINT and WG system above the oceans and terrain as well. The successors of Tselina-2 are Lotos-S ELINT satellites and US-A maritime weapon guiding satellites are changed with Pion-NKS KA serial.

In Soviet time after MKRTs 'Legenda' borne in 1978, Russians efforts guaranteed global vulnerability of any potential enemy navy. The Americans tried to counter this threat by developing ASAT anti-satellite system, but failed in  mission. With the help of new-coming 'Liana' net, Russian Navy still can scrag any enemy fleet in its beer embraces all around the world.


  1. Correction. Similar incident
    Space: Cosmos 1402 Is Out of Control. "The object of the international concern was a spacecraft innocuously dubbed Cosmos 1402. Launched last August, it is a five-ton bundle of electronics, including a powerful radar used by the Soviets to track U.S. naval vessels. In 1978 a similar satellite, Cosmos 954, scattered radioactive fragments over Canada's Northwest Territories. Though no one was killed or injured, the embarrassed Soviets paid Canada $3 million to help defray the cost of the difficult cleanup."


  2. Igor you can delete my last posting as well.

  3. Igor , the first 'Persona' Electro optical satellite ended in failure reportedly within two days of its operation.

    The manufacturer claim it was due to the typical orbit it was in which lead to the satellite being over exposed to radiation.

    While the military claims it was due to the use of substandard components , some even claim since this satellite has some imported component it was sabotaged.

    Well it was an expensive failure for this heavy satellite , a new launch is expected this year or next.

  4. to Austin:

    the rumors about 'Persona' failure - are only a rumors from anon source. No confirmation from independent source or official. Other sources claimed it's OK.

  5. Igor , its confirmed that Persona ended in a failure , it has stopped its orbit manouvering within few days.

    check this link

  6. to Austin
    As I have written above there was an isolated unconfirmed report in 'Rossiyskaya Gazeta', translated in Internet. believe or not believe - is up to you :)

  7. Ok send me todays pictures of USN CBG in North Atlantic taken from Persona , I will believe you ;)

  8. Sure Austin the photos are in this envelope here... to get a look take this polonium tablet and wait 30 seconds and then you can look... :)

    There is no way this satellite was designed to manoeuvre during its life span. It would manoeuvre into a sun synchronous orbit (for constant light from the sun for the solar panels) and then just maintain that orbit. That it has stopped moving around can be taken as an indication that it is correctly positioned itself and no longer has to manoeuvre.

  9. No GarryB , that not the case no matter in what orbit the satellite is even if it is GEO orbit they need to be manouvered slightly or more depending on the orbit they are in as the satellite tend to drift. In GEO they need to manouver far less , compared to spy sats which would need different orbit or orientation to point to its area of interest

    Many knowledgeable observer who have monitored Persona have accepted the fact that it got dead after 2 days of operation , since it stopped maneuvering since then.

    There was huge hue and cry and Ivanov even criticized the industry for not delivering.

    Again many will not believe that it is the case so I will rest my case.

    Polonium tablet , No Thanks. I am a friend of Putin :P

    BTW I dont think Polonium instantly kills you but gives one a slow and painful death , that is what happend to the Russian spy in UK.

  10. to Austin
    == send me todays pictures of USN CBG in North Atlantic taken from Persona , I will believe you ;)==

    - If I was GRU chief, I would do it with pleasure of course, my friend )))

  11. @Austin
    Satellites do not drift unless they are very low orbit and scuff the atmosphere which slows them down a little. Geostationary satellites are up very very high and orbit the equator. (As an aside I see the Russians are going to start using Plesesk (spelling) more and to compensate for its northern position that is bad for equatorial orbits it will slingshot its geostationary satellites around the moon to get a gravity boost, which I thought was quite neat.)
    The satellite in question is not in a geostationary orbit and it scans the earths surface for Naval traffic so being a little out of position is irrelevant... it is not a GLONASS satellite afterall.
    It is a passive recon satellite, the fact that nothing has been put up to replace it suggests it is probably operating just fine. Giving the impression it is not might just be a tactic.

  12. @Austin
    The polonium comment was a poor attempt at humour and I apologise.
    Polonium is a very lethal radioactive material which can kill over long periods with a very small dose (much like Plutonium). A dose the size of a tablet would kill rather quicker.
    I realise western media leapt to the conclusion that Putin must have been involved and that it was an assassination, but I rather doubt Putin would be so stupid as Polonium is very very expensive and very very rare and its radioactivity means even weeks after its use its presence can be detected everywhere it has been.
    A very dumb method to kill.
    The most likely reason for the mans death was ignored completely in the west... small amounts are worth enormous sums of money... rather than this man being assassinated, it was more likely he was smuggling the stuff and contaminated himself and used the opportunity to take a shot at an enemy (ie Putin).

  13. @Igor
    Wouldn't last long in the job then would you... :)

  14. @Austin
    BTW the Persona satellite is supposed to operate for years... if it needed to constantly manouver... how long would its on board fuel last?
    Especially when it needs to save fuel because when it stops working it is supposed to fire its main engines to greatly increase speed to climb to a much higher parking orbit to move its nuclear reactor power supply up to a safe place that will not fall back to earth for a few hundred thousand years (the plan of course being to go up and deal with them in the next few hundred or thousand years before they fall back).

  15. ==BTW the Persona satellite is supposed to operate for years... if it needed to constantly manouver... how long would its on board fuel last?==

    - The maneuvering engines for satellites are designed for 5-6 activation maximal. So it's hard to believe, when Austin said it 'need to be maneuvering'. Here it has made a maneuver and after that its stating on the GSO was confirmed.

  16. Persona satellite was designed with an effective life of 7 years and was a digital electro optical satellite.

    Every satellite needs maneuvering call it minor orbital correction depending on the orbit they are located and the drift that occurs to the satellite in that orbit , satellites that stay in Geo Orbit needs minimum maneuvering through out its life as they by and large tend to remain in constant location relative to its position on earth ,but they do tend to drift in minor way and very small thrust correction will be required through out its life which is couple of kgs of fuel is enough.

    Satellites like Persona will need some manouver to keep it in its relative designated location or major manouvering if its orbital location is changed to meet certain military objective.

    Hence some times Military Reco satellites tend to have lower life span then designed for if they keep on using its onboard limited thruster fuel to maneuver to meet some military objective at the same time use its limited fuel.

    As you rightly said after the end of designated life they are either pushed up or just reentered into earth to safely fall over sea and they need some fuel to do that kind of de-orbiting , these reserved fuel are taken into account during its life time.

    From all accounts I have read Persona is dead , now since no ground command can be issued to it , it will remain in that orbit till over a period of time it drifts and eventually drifts to earth ,considering they are in higher orbit and not LEO that will take many decades.

  17. Some of those systems are nuclear powered so if it has failed it would be a catastrophe.
    The only satellites in space that need to be in precision orbits and remain there are global positioning satellites like Navstar and Glonass.
    These Russian satellites are no where near geostationary orbits because the only geostationary orbits are very high up and circle the earths equator... neither of which would be much use for recon. In fact an equatorial orbit would make all activity of the northern fleet invisible simply because of the shape of the Earth.
    The actual situation is that these satellites will fly a normal path around the earth much like the International Space Station which goes around every couple of hours or so and several will eventually be operational to give reasonable coverage. US Carrier battle groups can't teleport so a fix on their position every 2-3 hours is good enough. All you need is a general idea of where they are headed and a couple of fixes and you can plan and implement a missile attack without risking aircraft or sea based assets.
    Such a satellite network will not need to be in a perfect orbit because everything operating at the same height will be operating at the same speed... those that are moving faster will move to a higher orbit and those moving slower will lose height. Based on its radar returns and probably GLONASS the satellite will know where it is all the time and with that info it can determine where on the surface of the Earth the targets it has detected are. Keeping to a precise orbit is not necessary. Why waste fuel? More electronics etc would be more desirable than extra fuel.

  18. to Garry B:
    sorry, my fault: it has not GSO but a sun-synchronous orbit

  19. Those nuclear power satellites essentially a thermionic space reactor is really not a problem , they have self sealing capability if shutdown and even incase of reentry are quite safe.

    BTW one more Gonets-M satellite was launched yesterday

    The Gonets-M has email service capability and are used by Russian foreign intelligence agents extensively.

    One of the defected spy to west disclosed this that it has a handheld device similarly to Thuriya phone , and then they upload the data to these satellites securely and when these satellites passes over russia the data gets downloaded.

    Its a kind of global email box service for russian foreign service.

  20. The political sh!t storm from Canada the last time a Soviet nuclear powered satellite came down on their territory means they choose to fire it up to a much higher orbit rather than deorbit them into the sea or where ever. They don't have to but this is what they have chosen to do.

    BTW Thanks for the info about Gonets-M... interesting... wonder if I can get issued one.. :)

  21. GarryB join the SVR ,travel around the world get cool gadgets issued in your name,all free of charge ;)

    Plus you get a nice car from Moscow :)

  22. Be happy to do it too, if they also issued me with cool stuff like the APSB (the suppressed model of the Stechkin machine pistol... :) )

    Don't know how effective I would be though, I am a little out of shape... although round is a shape too isn't it? :)