Su-35S picked up S-300 radar beam and the ‘target disappeared’

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In a recent communication, the Russian Federation’s Defense Ministry announced that a Su-35S pilot, while on a mission to provide escort to a group of bombers heading toward Kupyansk, picked up radar signals from a territory held by the opponent. 

Photo credit: Twitter

The pilot responded swiftly by launching an air-to-surface missile at the detected source. Following the missile strike, the radar emissions from the target ceased and were not detected further during the continuation of the pilot’s mission. Upon assessment from intelligence reports, the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system belonging to the Ukrainian armed forces is confirmed to have been hit. 

Su-35S Pilot ‘Ivan’ shared his experience: “Our mission was to provide air cover to our bombers. During our combat course, I picked up a radar signal from the enemy’s anti-aircraft missile system. I reported it to the command post and immediately launched an air-to-surface missile. Our bombers completed their mission successfully and returned safely to the departure airport, ready for new tasks. We realized our efforts were not in vain. Post-flight intelligence and objective control data corroborated the destruction of the S-300 ‘Favourite’ anti-aircraft missile system of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. We are on the side of justice—victory is sure to be ours!”

Photo credit: Twitter

The radar beam of the S-300

The S-300 system, developed by the Soviet Union, is a long-range, surface-to-air missile system. It’s primarily designed for defense against aircraft and cruise missiles. A crucial component of its operation is the radar radiation that the S-300 system emits. 

This artillery piece utilizes radar to detect, track, and engage targets. How does it work? Well, the radar discharges radio waves that bounce off potential targets. These reflected signals then return to the radar system, providing critical information about the target’s location, speed, and direction. 

Photo credit: AFP

Interestingly, the radar radiation from the S-300 system operates in various bands. These include the X-band used for fire control radars and the L-band utilized for surveillance and acquisition radars. These specific bands strike a balance between resolution—the ability to distinguish between two closely spaced targets—and detection range. The radar system’s capability goes further. It can track multiple targets simultaneously and guide numerous missiles to different targets at the same time.

EW vs S-300 radar radiation

Fighter jets can intercept the radar radiation from the S-300 system using electronic warfare systems. These systems are designed to detect, interpret, and respond to radar signals. They can identify the type of radar system based on the characteristics of the radar signal, such as its frequency, pulse width, and repetition rate. 

Photo credit: UAC

One method fighter jets use to intercept radar radiation is radar jamming. This technique involves transmitting radio signals that interfere with the radar’s operation, making it difficult for the radar to detect and track the aircraft. The jamming signals can be either noise jamming, which entails transmitting a wide range of frequencies to confuse the radar, or deception jamming, which involves transmitting signals that mimic the radar’s echo, thus creating false targets. 

Another method is radar spoofing, where the aircraft transmits signals that dupe the radar into thinking that the aircraft is located somewhere else. This can be accomplished either by delaying the return of the radar signal, making the aircraft appear further away or by amplifying the return signal, making the aircraft appear larger and closer. 

Photo credit: Twitter

Fighter jets can also use radar warning receivers, which alert the pilot when the aircraft is being targeted by radar. This notification gives the pilot time to take evasive action, such as changing course or altitude or deploying countermeasures like chaff – small pieces of reflective material that create a cloud of false targets, thereby confounding the radar.

The S-300 can counter

However, the S-300 system is designed to counter these tactics. It employs frequency hopping, altering its operating frequency in a random or pseudo-random sequence, to avoid jamming. It also utilizes advanced signal processing techniques to differentiate between real targets and false targets produced by deception jamming or chaff. 

Despite these countermeasures, the efficacy of the S-300 system hinges on the expertise and experience of the operators, the performance of the radar and missile systems, and the tactics and countermeasures employed by the opposing forces. Therefore, while the S-300 system presents itself as a significant adversary, it is not impervious.

Video screenshot

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

On February 21, 2022, Russia stated that its border facility was attacked by Ukrainian forces, resulting in the deaths of five Ukrainian fighters. However, Ukraine quickly dismissed these allegations, labeling them as ‘false flags’.

In a notable move on the same day, Russia announced it officially recognized the self-proclaimed areas of DPR and LPR. Interestingly, according to Russian President Putin, this recognition covered all the Ukrainian regions. Following this declaration, Putin sent a battalion of Russia’s military forces, tanks included, into these areas.

Photo credit: AFP

Fast forward to February 24, 2022, global headlines were dominated by a significant incident. Putin commanded a forceful military assault on Ukraine. Led by Russia’s impressive Armed Forces positioned at the Ukrainian border, this assault wasn’t spontaneous but a premeditated action. Despite the circumstances resembling a war, the Russian government refrains from using this term. They’d rather refer to it as a “special military operation”.

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