Satellites Space

Russia’s signals intelligence satellites’ current standing

Russia deployed the first in a sequence of signals intelligence spacecrafts as part of the Liana program in early February. The scheme, which began soon after the Soviet Union’s dissolution, has been plagued by major technological issues and setbacks over the years and has thus far struggled to meet standards. A fresh generation of signals intelligence spacecrafts is currently being developed, but it will likely take many years until they are completely operational.

Apart from image intelligence (IMINT) as well as human intelligence (HUMINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT) is among the most fundamental types of intelligence. It is divided into two categories: communications intelligence (COMINT) as well as electronic intelligence (ELINT). The aim of COMINT is to capture, store, and analyze voice communications. The main objectives of ELINT are radars used for early detection of bomber and drone threats, directing anti-ballistic missiles, as well as space monitoring and information.

It is possible to bypass or neutralize those radars by identifying their position and operational characteristics and either attacking them directly using electronic countermeasures. SIGINT is classified as “radio-electronic reconnaissance” (RER), COMINT is defined as “radio intelligence” (RR), as well as ELINT is regarded as “radio-technical intelligence” (RTR) in Russian.

In the early 1960s, the Soviet Union started carrying signals intelligence payloads on the photographic reconnaissance spacecraft, and in the late 1960s, it launched a sequence of dedicated signals intelligence satellites. One sort (the Tselina-O, which flew from 1967 to 1982) assessed the electronic terrain in an attempt to compile and upgrade the electronic pattern of battle records, while another (the Tselina-D, which flew from 1970 to 1992) calculated the precise position and features of detected sources.

Tselina-2 was an upgraded satellite that incorporated the area-survey as well as close-look functions of its predecessors and could also transmit data to Earth through geostationary relay satellites. It was in service from 1984 to 2004. The Tselina satellites appear to have been almost entirely dedicated to ELINT of global radar systems. However, between the years 1986 and 1993, an experimental COMINT payload was evaluated on the Tselina-R subseries that saw four deployments.

Although the Tselina satellites are thought to have examined both land- and ocean-based objectives, the Soviet Union, developed a separate ocean surveillance satellite system named Legenda that involved two forms of satellites. The first was the US-P(M) electronic reconnaissance satellite, which flew from 1974 to 2006, and the second was the US-A nuclear-powered radar reconnaissance satellite (flown from the year 1965 until the year 1988.) These satellites’ primary mission was to precisely calculate the locations of enemy ships in an attempt to provide tracking details for anti-ship missiles borne by both ships as well as submarines.

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