‘Yenisei’ and ‘Valday’ Radars Boost Russia’s S-400 Air Defense Systems Against UAVs, Hypersonic Threats

The CEO of Russian business Almaz-Antey briefed the defence minister on new autonomous targeting systems such as "Yenisei" and radar systems such as "Valday" geared to counter drones and hypersonic threats while also providing better air defence capabilities. These advanced systems were created during the continuing crisis in Ukraine, where Russia faces a variety of aircraft threats.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

The CEO of the scientific and production company Almaz-Antey, Gennady Bendersky, apprised Sergey Shoigu, the Russian Minister of Defence, on March 6th of successfully completing the development process for autonomous target recognition systems and radar complexes. Shoigu was inspecting the company’s compliance with the state defence decree.

The CEO disclosed that the company has developed new countermeasures for unmanned aerial vehicles, which are currently undergoing factory testing. The autonomous targeting system “Yenisei” aids in functioning the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, whereas the “Valday” radar systems contribute to their detection and subsequent counteroffensive.

Information concerning these two systems is classified, and little is known about them. However, “Yenisei” was designed for the S-500 air defence system and can improve the capabilities of the S-400 air defence systems.

Multipurpose Radar Yenisei

According to some accounts, the multipurpose radar “Yenisei,” which has a range of up to 600 kilometres and an altitude of up to 100 kilometres, can detect and track aerodynamic and ballistic targets. The command post receives target data, which is subsequently communicated to other components, which work together to track and destroy the target. The system was supposedly put into service in 2021.

The dual-band phased array radar “Yenisei” increases target detection while eliminating false target traces. The radar also works in passive mode for electronic surveillance and air monitoring. In the latter instance, it can offer target designation data, allowing the multifunctional radars of the S-400/S-500 systems to engage the target.

In addition to its 360-degree monitoring capacity, the radar includes a stop-and-stare mode that provides sectoral coverage for identifying even small hypersonic targets.

The “Yenisei” radar station is designed to operate continuously for an extended period. For example, the S-400 “Triumph” radar equipment (the command post radar complex and the anti-aircraft missile division’s multifunctional radar) was not designed to operate for such an extended amount of time, as air fights and engagements do not last long hours or days. 

This aspect of the “Yenisei” enables the collection of reconnaissance data over a lengthy period, which is critical for radar reconnaissance. Simultaneously, the operator error component is essentially reduced, as the radar runs completely automatically.

The “Yenisei” radar is fitted with moveable masts, which allow it to counter-jamming efficiently. Another aspect of the “Yenisei” radar is its ability to operate inside a specific sector (most radar reconnaissance assets operate in circular scanning mode). This feature enables the radar to identify target locations for ballistic missiles successfully. By the way, the all-altitude detector (AAD) 96L6, which is commonly connected with the S-400 air defence system, cannot work within a sector.

The radar complex (RC) 92N6 at the command post of the S-400 air defence missile system functions “in the round.” However, consistent and long operation within a sector by the “Yenisei” will considerably boost the efficiency of ballistic missile defence in missile-threatened areas. As a result, in air defence missile forces, two radars are stationed at the S-400 command post: the regular RC 92N6 of the S-400 and the “Yenisei” radar.

In addition, the “Yenisei” can effectively combat meteorological phenomena known as “angels.” They primarily occur over water surfaces and produce significant screen glare in the form of numerous false targets for both detection radars and missile guiding stations. After acquiring and deploying the S-400 air defence systems near water surfaces, the Chinese came into close contact with them. Russian experts have created various computational methods for the Yenisei radar against “angels.”

Furthermore, the “Yenisei” has built-in state identification systems, both local (“Strazh”) and NATO MK-12 (which may be of interest to foreign clients). In addition, the radar features a secondary channel for use in the ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) system in the 1030-1090 MHz frequency band. This enables the “Yenisei” to have complete information about civil aircraft currently in flight.

The “Yenisei” radar is highly manoeuvrable. The deployment/retraction time does not exceed 5 minutes.

To maximise mobility, the “Yenisei” lacks outriggers or portable supports like those seen on the AAD 96L6. Mechanical “paws” for levelling are still present on this radar, but they are deployed directly rather than being extended.

Furthermore, the “Yenisei” detects and tracks its own launched anti-aircraft guided missiles and can correctly assess whether a target has been struck in the event of an engagement.

Yenisei’s Hypersonic Target Detection

This system also has a notable characteristic. For example, the Iskander-M operational-tactical complex’s missile initially ascends to a high altitude of about 100 km. Then, as it descended, it begins to actively manoeuvre. This makes it nearly impossible to intercept. Furthermore, as the Iskander missile approaches the target, it emits carbon threads that completely illuminate the screens of the opponent’s radar indicators, implying that there are so many false targets that the enemy’s air defence missile systems’ ability to combat such missiles is simply unrealistic. 

As per the Russian media, the “Yenisei” can detect, track, and accurately identify such targets.

Valday Radar System

The Valday radar system was designed to detect and track objects with extremely small radar cross-sections. This radar can discriminate between very small drones and other aerial objects, allowing for accurate suppression and neutralisation.

The “Valday” system is installed on a three-axis self-propelled vehicle with a container body. The structural components are a radar module, an optoelectronic module, a control module with a remote control panel, a radio signal source direction-finding module, and a countermeasure module. The system also has its own communication and power supply, among other features.

Optoelectronic detection, radio direction finding, and radar are all combined into a vehicle-mounted system. It comprises an X-band 3D radar that can scan 360 degrees azimuthally and 0 to 30 degrees elevation. The minimum detection range is 300 metres.

In conjunction with the radio signal direction-finding module, the radar locates unmanned aerial vehicles and their operators and identifies the drone’s control and communication channels. The device either employs a radio direction finder or radar to point a thermal imaging camera in the direction of an object that has been spotted. The optoelectronic module monitors the target and assesses the efficacy of countermeasures.

The anti-drone system’s jammer module can block navigation and control signals. The technique can also disable target drones using projectiles or nets. Like “Yenisei,” “Valday” went into operation in 2021.

Shoigu stressed the significance of ground-to-air missile systems in special military operations zones, emphasising the utility of both radars and weapons. He also noted that the inventory of missiles that Russian air defence systems must face is growing by the day.

“We see that the enemy has FPV drones, long-range and powerful attack drones, HIMARS rockets, as well as weapons of Soviet production. Naturally, we must decide how to counter them. This is a task that your enterprises must fulfil,” he said.

Unmanned aircraft vehicles have proven to be a vital tool for both strikes and surveillance during the Ukrainian conflict.

Long-range unmanned aerial vehicles are currently being used to attack critical infrastructure in the energy industry and military production facilities.


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