Russian Kondor-FKA space radar satellite sees Ukraine twice a day

On May 27 this year, Russia launched a civilian Kondor-FKA radar surveillance satellite. According to an official announcement from Roscosmos, Kondor-FKA is supposed to take a meteorological picture. Roscosmos announced that the functionality of the satellite is round-to-clock for all weather of the World’s continental areas.

Russian Kondor-FKA space radar satellite sees Ukraine twice a day
Photo by Kirill Borisenko

Kondor-FKA is part of a series of Russian small Earth remote sensing satellites. However, it was not developed by the state-owned space company Roscosmos [which launched it], but by the Russian Aerospace Forces [VKS]. Such satellites are not new, on the contrary – other countries also use them. Besides mapping and determining meteorological conditions, such satellites are used for monitoring and prospecting natural resources.

Military use

An unnamed source of the Russian media outlet Sputnik News, which media outlet presents as a member of Russia’s military department, claims that the Kondor-FKA will be used entirely for military purposes. The source says that the satellite will begin to recognize Ukrainian military installations throughout the territory of Ukraine.

He claims that the resolution of Kondor-FKA is very high. According to him, the satellite will see twice a day all of Ukraine, as well as other countries [around Ukraine] “and it is capable of detecting military objects in radar range with a resolution in one meter”. The source claims that these satellite-radar capabilities be affected by whether it is raining, thundering, or cloudy.

Russian Kondor-FKA space radar satellite sees Ukraine twice a day
Photo credit: NPO Mashinostroyeniya

If the allegations turn out to be true, this is not a good situation for the Ukrainian armed forces. A similar radar satellite with similar radar and resolution capabilities will shed light on the movement of Ukrainian troops. This satellite is capable of showing the supplies, and the route of the supplies, coming from Western Europe to Ukraine.

All previously undiscovered weapons caches as well as suspected undiscovered military bases will be illuminated. The future delivery of F-16 fighter jets and their deployment will also become visible to the Russian Armed Forces. This includes all new military constructions and fortifications.

Ex-UN employee

A similar opinion was expressed by the former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who, in principle, since the beginning of the war, did not give the Ukrainian armed forces a chance to deal with the Russian army. According to him, Ukraine can no longer hide anything from the Russians, and this satellite, which turns out to be the first of a series of satellites to be launched, will fundamentally change the course of the war in Ukraine.

Russia has launched a military satellite into space
Photo credit: Roscosmos

Ritter used the Russian strikes over the past week to paint his claims as true. He recalls the precise missile attacks on Kiev, as a result of the new satellite data received in Moscow. recalls that in the last week, there were missile attacks on a second Patriot battery [Russia claims it was destroyed], as well as an unknown underground explosion that caused a magnitude 3 earthquake in Kyiv. Also hit were facilities said to be part of a stockpile of Western-supplied ammunition.

There is still no comment from Washington to support or deny the claims. In general, the US is holding off on commenting as it does a more in-depth analysis of what is happening, and it very much does not trust either Ukrainian or Russian sources.

US Space Force, however, recalls that the USA has been talking about the influence of space and satellites there on the war in Ukraine for a long time. The head of the US space forces, General Jay Raymond, has already announced some time ago that the war in Ukraine will be the first in which “the main role will be played by the space capabilities.”

Russian Kondor-FKA space radar satellite sees Ukraine twice a day
Photo by David Grim

General Raymond emphasized that both sides of the conflict are highly dependent on outer space. It refers to Russia’s ability to develop and launch satellites into space on its own, as well as the support provided by allied forces to Ukraine by providing Kyiv with data from their satellites. Indeed, it is no secret that the US uses satellites for precision strikes, just as it is no secret that such satellite information is provided to Kyiv.

According to data from the US space force, there are currently 5,000 “commercial” satellites above Earth, with more than half belonging to three countries – the US, Russia, and China. General Raymond confirmed that Ukraine has access to an unprecedented number of satellites owned by the US and its allies.


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