Russia begins deployment of new Nebo-M radar systems

The Russian Aerospace Defense Forces (ADF) have launched the deployment of the new Nebo-M radar system, ADF spokesman Colonel Alexey Zolotukhin told journalists on Thursday.

The radar system is capable of detecting small aerodynamic and hypersonic targets, he added. Such systems are notable for a significantly increased operational range and high rates of updating data on ballistic and hypersonic targets.

The Almaz-Antey/NNIIRT 55Zh6ME Nebo ME was displayed publicly for the first time at the Ramenskoye Air Base centenary open day and air show at Zhukovskiy, near Moscow, August 10 to 12th, 2012. Of the four components comprising the Nebo M multiband radar system, only the S/C-Band RLM-S component was not displayed. Russia media reports suggest that the development of the RLM-S has been delayed, although the system was listed on the placard at the Ramenskoye display as a Nebo M component.


Captured high resolution imagery of the remaining components did not reveal any significant departures from the previously disclosed Powerpoint briefing slides, prototype imagery, or the most recent Almaz-Antey promotional illustration. The imagery was shot by Vitaliy V. Kuzmin using a Canon EOS 5D Mark II 21 Megapixel DSLR with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS zoom lens, and is employed in this report with permission.

All radar components are carried on variants of the 8 x 8 all terrain BZKT BAZ-6909-015 24-tonne chassis.

What the display did validate was the inclusion of the NK Orientir precision positioning system on all radar components. Unlike the NK Orientir installations employed on S-300PMU2 TELs, the Nebo M installation has the characteristic L-Band antenna package at the top of the Nebo M component antennas. Rather than determining the position and angular orientation of the vehicle, the Nebo M arrangement determines same for the antenna phase centre, which is offset a fixed distance below the NK Orientir antenna package.

The NK Orientir precision navigation system was developed by a consortium comprising NVP Protek, NII Radiotekhniki KGTU, NPP Radiosvyaz and FGUP TsNII Elektropribor. This design employs a FOG inertial reference with corrections provided by a GPS and Glonass satnav receivers, LORAN-C and Chaika radio navaids, and an odometer. The system is also equipped with a moving map display and is claimed to provide a geolocation accuracy of 15 metres, and angular positioning accuracy of 6 minutes of arc, for “hide, shoot and scoot” operations. Given the likelihood of carrier phase measurements being used, the actual relative positioning and angular accuracy could be considerably better.

The untidy ad hoc cabling for the NK Orientir system suggests the displayed systems were prototypes or preproduction systems employed for integration testing of NK Orientir. A production installation would have cables properly protected by conduits, and robust weather protected enclosures for the electronics modules.

Another interesting observation is that 100 kiloWatt diesel generator powerplants are employed rather than the traditional gas turbine generator plant favoured in earlier Russian designs. This will improve on station persistence and reduce the thermal signature of the system.

All antenna components employ hydraulic stow/deploy and chassis levelling mechanisms for rapid “hide, shoot and scoot” operations. Cited stow and deploy times are 15 minutes, which is highly competitive, and consistent with a number of other recent designs.