Author Topic: Burevestnik : a new Russian ASAT?  (Read 3650 times)

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Burevestnik : a new Russian ASAT?
« on: 05/25/2018 11:58 AM »
There are tantalizing clues that Russia is a working on a space-based anti-satellite system called Burevestnik (“Stormy Petrel”). I  apologize in advance for the long posts that follow, but I think this claim needs to be backed up with all the evidence that I have managed to gather. People who are not interested in all the details may skip the first two posts and go to the conclusions in the third one.  All the obtained information is from publicly accessible online sources, mainly technical papers and procurement documents. I will give links to all of those. All the articles are in Russian, but some have English abstracts.

The first clue came in a collection of articles published in 2015 on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the Scientific Research Institute of Television (NII Televideniya or NIIT) in St-Petersburg, which has had a virtual monopoly in developing space-based TV systems for Soviet/Russian space projects ever since Luna-3 in 1959.

In the introductory article NIIT’s director Aleksandr Umbitaliyev wrote the following (see p. 3):
Our specialists are conducting work on creating a space-based space surveillance system together with NPO Lavochkin under the leadership of MAK Vympel. One of our recent projects is to develop a small-size star tracker for space systems developed by KB Tochmash.

The space-based surveillance system is most likely 14F150/Nivelir-L, which saw its first launch with Kosmos-2519/2521/2523 last year. NPO Lavochkin is known to play a leading role in that project. We know from several contracts that a second mission (14F150 N°2) is currently being prepared.

What particularly drew my attention, however, was the second line about NIIT’s involvement in “space systems developed by KB Tochmash”. KB Tochmash is short for “Konstruktorskoye Byuro Tochnogo Mashinostroyeniya imeni А.Е. Nudelmana” (“Design Bureau for Precision Machine Building Named After  А.Е. Nudelman). It  is the current name of the former OKB-16 bureau that was led by Aleksandr Nudelman. KB Tochmash’s core business are tactical surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank weapons and various other types of weaponry. Its sole role in the space program so far has been to develop anti-satellite weapons:

- a rapid-fire cannon for at least one of Chelomei’s military Almaz space stations (Salyut-3) in the 1970s. See this story by Anatoly Zak in Popular Mechanics:

- space-to-space missiles for three ASAT projects that the Soviet Union worked on in the 1980s and early 1990s (Kaskad, Kamin and Naryad-V). For more details see an article I wrote for the British Interplanetary Society’s Space Chronicle magazine in 2016 :

Given KB Tochmash’s background in space weaponry, the single line in the NIIT article is a strong indication that the company is once again working on some type of offensive space system. It is not clear, however, if there is a link with the Kosmos-2519/2521/2523 mission. The fact that NIIT’s involvement in the MAK Vympel/NPO Lavochkin project and the KB Tochmash project are mentioned in one and the same paragraph does not necessarily mean that they are related. All we can say for sure is that NIIT is involved in a project with NPO Lavochkin/MAK Vympel (most likely 14F150/Nivelir-L) on the one hand and a project with KB Tochmash on the other hand. As of yet there is no clear evidence for a relation between the two and I will focus here only on the KB Tochmash/NIIT project. I have discussed the possible role of NIIT and MAK Vympel in 14F150 in my latest post in the Kosmos-2519/2521/2523 thread.

Not surprisingly, a search for more clues about the KB Tochmash/NIIT project on the website of KB Tochmash yielded no results.
Even worse, the pages describing KB Tochmash’s publicly known military products suddenly vanished several weeks ago, leaving information only on its civilian products. This may be part of an ongoing campaign by the Kremlin to tighten its control on Internet resources.

However, a survey of recent technical papers written by KB Tochmash specialists did turn up several articles (in 2016-2017) that seem to be related to this project. They describe a simulator developed by KB Tochmash to re-create the background against which infrared sensors need to track fast moving objects in space. The articles reveal little to nothing about the true purpose of the simulator, but it could clearly be used to simulate any background interference that an ASAT weapon would have to deal with when homing in on a target. The main element of the simulator is an optical bench called OSK-2TsL, which is installed inside a vacuum chamber that closely mimics space conditions (see images below).
(see p. 94-96, brief English summary available)
(see p. 59-64, brief English summary available )

A search for more information on NIIT’s “small star tracker” (which would be needed to determine the host vehicle’s orientation in space) also produced several results.  It was the subject of a long article in the 1/2014 issue of NIIT’s journal “Voprosy Radioelektroniki”. This is not available online, but a brief summary (also in English) can be found here:

Interestingly, the article was co-authored by one the KB Tochmash specialists involved in the space simulator experiments (Andrei Stepovoi), providing further evidence that the star tracker was indeed developed for a KB Tochmash project.

A detailed description of the star tracker can be found in a technical publication on NIIT’s space-based TV systems released last year:Теория_и_практика_космического_телевидения_с_обложками.pdf
(see p. 241-246)

A “dynamic simulator” for the star tracker has been described in at least two publications:
(see pp. 232-236, includes a brief English summary)ВКР210629КРИВОШЕИН.PDF

The star tracker was shown at an exhibition called “Fotonika-2017” held in Moscow in February-March 2017 and was mentioned in several press articles leading up to the exhibition. Some of the reports said it had already been tested “in space conditions” (without giving further details), for instance this one:

The star tracker weighs about 300 g and measures 64x58x58 mm without a lens hood and 64x58x161 mm with a lens hood (see images below).  This makes it possible to install it aboard small satellites. It has a resolution of 1024x1024 pixels, with each pixel measuring 5.5 x 5.5 µm2. It can see stars up to +6/+7 magnitude. None of the articles reveal the project for which the star tracker is intended and its name is not given (which in itself is indicative of a non-civilian purpose).

The star tracker has been under development for at least five years and possibly longer. One NIIT specialist writing in the publication on the company’s 80th anniversary (Anastasiya Chirkunova) said she became involved in the star tracker project when she began working at NIIT in 2013.
(see p. 15)

The key to finding more information on the project was a PhD dissertation defended in 2017 at the St.-Petersburg Electrotechnical University (LETI), which has close ties with NIIT. The dissertation, written by Aleksei V. Morozov, deals with the use of TV systems to “detect and follow dynamic objects in space”.

In the introduction (p. 9) Morozov says that the results of his study were used in an “OKR” (experimental design work) at NIIT on a “small-size stellar orientation sensor”. He gives the name of that OKR as “Burevestnik”. Another project where the results were applied was a NIR (research project) called Napryazheniye (a name that has been linked to Lavochkin’s 14F150 project, more on that in the Kosmos-2519/2521/2523 thread).

A subsequent search for “Burevestnik” on the site turned up several contracts signed between August 2014 and April 2015 between KB Tochmash and various subcontractors as well as between individual subcontractors. All of these were described as being part of “NIR” research themes with the following names :

Burevestnik-Pr-KBTM-GIPO  : between KBTM (KB Tochmash) and GIPO

The subject of this contract is not mentioned in the available documents. GIPO is the State Institute of Applied Optics (now part of the Shvabe holding), which specializes in infrared lenses for thermal imaging devices.

Burevestnik-Pr-KBTM-NIIPKh-A  : between NIIPKh and ZAO Aerokon

(on “optimizing the IGRT working process”) (no idea what that means)

Burevestnik-SP  : between NIIPKh and SKTB Tekhnolog

(on “recommendations for the choice of chlorine-free oxidizers for gas generating substances”)

NIIPKh is the Scientific Research Institute of Applied Chemistry, which among other things produces pyrotechnic devices for spacecraft (incidentally, the pages describing its military products were recently removed from the company’s website, just like those of KB Tochmash). The company is known to have worked on solid-propellant gas generators that produce clouds of aerosol particles to obscure moving vehicles from attacking enemy vehicles.
(p. 5-8)

One article written by NIIPKh specialists in 2016 mentions the possibility of installing such generators aboard satellites. They would produce nitrogen aerosol sprays to blind enemy spacecraft carrying “detection, homing and negation systems”. However, it is impossible to tell for sure that this is what this contract was all about.  The pdf version of the article is no longer online, but it can still be consulted here:
(see p. 94)

ZAO Aerokon, a subcontractor to NIIPKh in the contract, specializes in drones, space-based radar systems and aircraft stealth technology and its role in this contract is unclear.     

Also on the website are four contracts (described as being part of NIR Burevestnik-Pr-KBTM) between KB Tochmash and subcontractors for various components of the space background simulator:

KBTM – Shvabe Oborona i Zashchita
(for the OSK-2TsL optical bench)

(for  AChT-6A blackbodies)

(for the table of the optical bench)

КБТМ – OOO Elektrosteklo
(for optical mirrors)

One contract involving KB Tochmash (in the spring of 2015) refers to a theme called Burevestnik-M-ONB.

KB Tochmash is also known to have signed contracts on 17 July and 18 July 2014 with NPTsAP (the former “Pilyugin bureau”), which specializes in guidance and control systems for rockets, upper stages and spacecraft. See this court document which gives the dates and numbers of several major contracts signed by KB Tochmash.
However, there is no evidence that these contracts are related to Burevestnik.

Some of the aforementioned contracts say that they are based on a contract signed between KB Tochmash and NPK KBM on 1 June 2014, which in turn was based on government contracts with the numbers 013/52/2014 and 013/53/2014. The date for the latter is 22 May 2014. The parties involved in these contracts are not mentioned, but are probably the Ministry of Defense and either KB Tochmash or NPK KBM (or both).

NPK KBM (Design Bureau of Machine Building) (based in Kolomna just south of Moscow) is another weapon manufacturer which among other things produces tactical ballistic missiles, anti-tank missiles and man-portable air defense systems. Its website is here:

According to the Russian Wikipedia page about this company it worked on an ASAT projectile called Sharik back in the early 1960s (to be installed on Soyuz spacecraft), but it is not known to have been involved in any other space-related projects since. KB Tochmash and NPK KBM are two companies belonging to a holding called “High Precision Complexes” (Vysokotochnye kompleksy), which in turn is part of the “Armaments” cluster  of the Rostekh State Corporation. NIIT, incidentally, is also part of Rostekh, but is subordinate to the “Roselektronika” holding of the corporation’s “Radioelectronics” cluster. Shvabe (which groups numerous optical companies) is another holding belonging to that cluster. 

In short, the basis for Burevestnik would appear to have been government contracts signed in May 2014. However, the name Burevestnik also shows up in other contracts that cannot be linked to these contracts. I will discuss these in the next post. 

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Burevestnik : a new Russian ASAT?
« Reply #1 on: 05/25/2018 12:08 PM »
There are several other contracts carrying the name Burevestnik that are seemingly space-related.  I will split these into two groups.


- A contract for an OKR called Burevestnik was signed between the Ministry of Defense and NII TP on 22 February 2008. This was to be carried out in five stages, the final one ending in September 2012 (but there were delays, leading to a court case). See this court document published in 2015:

NII TP (Scientific Research Institute of Precision Instruments) has worked on a variety of space-related equipment such as ground control systems, space-based radar systems and the Kurs automatic rendezvous system.

- An OKR called Burevestnik is mentioned in the 2009 annual report of NPO Orion (see p. 3)

NPO Orion (part of the Shvabe holding) manufactures hi-tec military and aerospace electronics, also for the space industry (including infrared detectors)

- Burevestnik-M-ASN : this OKR was the subject of a contract signed between TsNIIKhM and MKB Kompas on 1 January 2012. The contract is mentioned in several court documents in 2017. It was to be carried out in three stages, the final one ending in September 2015.

TsNIIKhM is the Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics and is subordinate to the Federal Service for Technical and Export Control (FSTEK), a defense agency tasked with protecting state secrets and countering cyber espionage. TsNIIKhM is also involved in NPO Lavochkin’s 14F150/Nivelir-L project  and has two space-related divisions (a nanotechnology lab and a so-called Design Bureau for Applied Mechanics (KBPM))  that seem to specialize mainly in the development of microsatellites (more on all that in my latest post in the Kosmos-2519 thread).

MKB Kompas has manufactured GPS/GLONASS receivers for a wide variety of transportation systems (including aircraft, missiles and spacecraft). “ASN” stands for “satellite navigation equipment”. 

- Burevestnik-M-E : this OKR shows up in the annual reports of RNII Elektronstandart for 2012, 2013 and 2014. RNII Elektronstandart is a leading institute in the field of certification, metrology, standardization and quality control of electronic devices. See for instance the 2012 report:
(p. 19-20)


Finally, the name Burevestnik shows up in several related contracts signed in 2016-2017. Here OKR Burevestnik has the extension “KA”, which almost certainly stands for “kosmicheskiy apparat” (satellite).

- Burevestnik-KA-M-DU  (between OKB Fakel and OOO NIKAM)
(for the delivery of polyimide film)

OKB Fakel builds satellite maneuvering engines, mainly SPD stationary plasma thrusters (“DU” stands for “engine unit”). Polyimide film is used to protect a satellite’s surface from the exhaust plumes of such engines.

- Burevestnik-KA-M-EKB  (between RNNI Elektronstandart and RNII KP)

- Burevestnik-KA-M-EKB-TZCh (between RNII Elektronstandart and ENPO SPELS)

-Burevestnik-KA-M-EKB-NIIP  (between RNII Elektronstandart and NIIP)

All the contracts containing the word EKB (an acronym for “electronic devices”) are related to tests designed to see if satellite electronic systems can withstand the effects of space radiation  (“heavy charged particles” or TZCh). One of the contracts says more specifically that the tests are related to Russian-built and foreign-built electronic systems for “small satellites” (the “M” may actually stand for the Russian word “small”) .

For all the “EKB” contracts RNII Elektronstandart acts as a subcontractor to TsNIIKhM, with the two having signed a contract for that on 1 April 2016.

The basis for the Burevestnik-KA-M-EMB contracts was a contract signed on 1 December 2015 between the “Center of Special Technical Assets” of the Federal Service for Technical and Export Control (FSTEK) on the one hand and weapon manufacturer NPK KBM on the other hand.

Little can be found about the “Center of Special Technical Assets”, except that it is based in Voronezh. It is said to be a branch of FSTEK’s “State Scientific Research and Test Institute for Problems of the Technical Protection of Information” (GNIII PTZI), also situated in Voronezh.  GNIII PTZI appears to be the research branch of FSTEK. Most papers emanating from this institute are about countering cyber espionage and what role it plays in a space project is totally unclear at this point. However, as pointed out before, TsNIIKhM is an organization subordinate to FSTEK and it appears to be the key player in Burevestnik-KA along with NPK KBM.

TsNIIKhM’s KBPM department is definitely involved because one of the EKB contracts is signed by KBPM’s director. There may also be a role for TsNIIKhM’s nanotechnology center. A paper written jointly in 2016 by NPK KBM and TsNIIKhM specialists (including KBM chief Valeriy Kashin and the head of TsNIIKhM’s nanotechnology center Vladimir Turkov) deals with what are termed “pulse control thrusters”. The short bursts provided by such engines could potentially come in handy for ASAT weapons to make final trajectory adjustments before hitting a target. The abstracts of the article (translated into English) are here:

Three of the authors of this article (all from TsNIIKhM) are also among the authors of a patent for a solid-fuel pulse control thruster (published in late 2016):

The text says this type of thruster is planned to be used “to create a torque or correct the flight trajectory of a special small-size object”.

TsNIIKhM’s work on solid-propellant microthrusters is also mentioned in this article in 2014:
(see p. 19)

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Burevestnik : a new Russian ASAT?
« Reply #2 on: 05/25/2018 12:25 PM »
Putting it all together, the name Burevestnik shows up in a number of NIR (research) and OKR (experimental design) themes between 2008 and 2017 that seem to be space-related. The question is if they are related or not. I should point out in this respect that Burevestnik (“Stormy Petrel”) is a popular name in Russian culture. The “Stormy Petrel” became an important symbol in Soviet propaganda thanks to a revolutionary poem called “Song About the Stormy Petrel” written by Maxim Gorky in 1901. This is why many products and institutes bear the name “Burevestnik”. In the area of transportation alone, it has been used for a series of hydrofoil boats and a series of frigates of the Soviet Navy. It is also the name that was recently given by popular vote to a newly developed nuclear-powered intercontinental cruise missile unveiled by President Putin in his State of the Union speech on March 1. There is also a weapon manufacturer called TsNII Burevestnik. All this makes an online search for information on the space-related Burevestnik project(s) like looking for a needle in a haystack. I have seen a couple of OKRs called Burevestnik that are definitely not space-related. Even if  all the Burevestnik themes that I have mentioned above are space-related, that does not tell us for sure that they are all part of one and the same project.

In summary, we have:

- Burevestnik OKR themes involving NII TP and NPO Orion initiated in 2008-2009 (but apparently extending into 2015). Although these companies have been involved in many space projects, there is no irrefutable evidence that these OKRs are space-related, let alone related to a space weapons project.

- Burevestnik-M OKR themes in the 2012-2014 timeframe involving TsNIIKhM and RNII Elektronstandart (the latter being a relatively low-level subcontractor). Again, there is no unmistakable evidence that these are space-related. There are signs of a possible link with KB Tochmash. First, KB Tochmash was involved in something called Burevestnik-M-ONB and, second, it signed a contract with TsNIIKhM on 1 November 2011, just two months before TsNIIKhM signed the Burevestnik-M-ASN contract with MKB Kompas. See the earlier mentioned court document summing up various KB Tochmash contracts:
However, the subject of the Tochmash/TsNIIKhM contract is not known.

- Burevestnik-Pr and Burevestnik-SP research themes (NIR) in the 2014-2015 timeframe with key players being KB Tochmash, NPK KBM, NIIPKh and NIIT. The background of NPK KBM and especially KB Tochmash (with its ASAT history) as well as the types of experiments conducted as part of these themes strongly suggest that the research was linked to a space-based weapon system. Most contracts related to this theme refer back to a government contract dated 22 May 2014, but it seems to go further back in time because a star tracker produced by NIIT as part of this project has been under development since at least 2013 (and has apparently already been tested in space).

- Burevestnik-KA OKR themes in the 2016-2017 timeframe that are unmistakably space-related, with key players being TsNIIKhM and NPK KBM. The evidence points to some type of small satellite carrying stationary plasma thrusters built by OKB Fakel. The involvement of NPK KBM again strongly suggests some type of offensive mission.  There is no sign of a role by KB Tochmash in the publicly available documents. Some of the contracts refer back to a contract signed on 1 December 2015 between NPK KBM and a division of the Federal Service for Technical and Export Control (FSTEK) (the “mother organization” of TsNIIKhM). However, the OKB Fakel contract refers back to an order signed by the OKB Fakel director in October 2015, suggesting that the 1 December 2015 contract was not the starting point of this theme.

In short, there is no definitive evidence for a link between all these Burevestnik themes, but there are strong clues that at least some of them are related (common denominators being TsNIIKhM, NPK KBM and, likely, KB Tochmash).

If Burevestnik is indeed a space-based ASAT system, it would be only one of several ASAT projects that Russia is currently believed to be working on. These include ground-based and air-based direct-ascent systems as well as ground-based electronic jamming systems. An up-to-date overview of these can be found in this report by the Secure World Foundation published last April (“Global Counterspace Capabilities: An Open Source Assessment”)

One ground-based direct-ascent ASAT system that has apparently already undergone flight tests is Nudol. KB Tochmash is clearly involved in Nudol, probably in the development of its “kill vehicle”. This is apparent from the following three contracts available on the website (signed in late 2016 – early 2017).

This might imply that Burevestnik is simply the name of Nudol’s ballistic kill vehicle (which would also have to operate in space conditions), but there are at least two reasons to believe that the two are not directly related:

- The Nudol and Burevestnik contracts involving KB Tochmash refer back to different government contracts (12 July 2013 for Nudol and  22 May 2014 for Burevestnik)

- Nudol is mentioned as a separate theme along with Burevestnik-M-ONB and the Bagulnik air defense missile system in this contract involving KB Tochmash:

Finally, the question arises if there is any link between Project Burevestnik and the inspector satellites launched in recent years (Kosmos-2491, 2499 and 2504  launched by Rokot boosters in 2013-2015 and the 14F150/Kosmos-2519-2521-2523 mission launched in June 2017).  The available Burevestnik documents (the last one drawn up as late as July 2017) would suggest that the project is still in its development phase and has not yet seen any flight tests. However, it is conceivable that some elements of Burevestnik have been tested or are still undergoing tests as part of these missions. For instance, the star tracker developed by NIIT, which was reportedly tested in space conditions sometime before 2017, may have flown on one or more of the Rokot-launched inspector satellites.

It is also worth noting that the roots of both the Burevestnik and 14F150 projects seem to go back to the beginning of this decade. They may well have been a response to such developments as the Chinese ASAT test in 2007, the destruction of the USA-193 satellite by a modified SM-3 missile in 2008, the launch of America’s Space-Based Space Surveillance (SSBS) satellite in 2010 as well as the first flight of the US Air Force’s X-37B spaceplane in the same year (especially the latter was a matter of major concern to the Russians).

Offline weedenbc

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Re: Burevestnik : a new Russian ASAT?
« Reply #3 on: 05/25/2018 12:49 PM »
Fascinating stuff, and great work piecing all this together.

I can think of two possibilities:

1) 14F150 is the tracking/targeting system and Burevestnik is the offensive weapon component (similar to the role Okno played in the Cold War-era ASAT programs)

2) Burevestnik is the program to weaponize the RPO technologies demonstrated by Cosmos 2499, 2504, etc

Bart, does there seem to be any programmatic links between those RPO missions and either Burevestnik  or 14F150?
Brian Weeden

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Burevestnik : a new Russian ASAT?
« Reply #4 on: 05/25/2018 08:04 PM »
Fascinating stuff, and great work piecing all this together.

I can think of two possibilities:

1) 14F150 is the tracking/targeting system and Burevestnik is the offensive weapon component (similar to the role Okno played in the Cold War-era ASAT programs)

2) Burevestnik is the program to weaponize the RPO technologies demonstrated by Cosmos 2499, 2504, etc

Bart, does there seem to be any programmatic links between those RPO missions and either Burevestnik  or 14F150?

I suppose your question is if there is a link between the rendezvous and proximity operations performed by the inspectors (Kosmos 2499, 2504 on the one hand and 2519/2521/2523 (14F150)on the other hand) and Burevestnik. I think the evidence points to Burevestnik and the inspectors being different programs, but it is certainly possible that some of the technology needed for Burevestnik has been tested by the inspectors (such as the NIIT star sensor). Since TsNIIKhM seems to be involved in both 14F150 and Burevestnik, there could also be similarities in satellite design. 

Offline gosnold

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Re: Burevestnik : a new Russian ASAT?
« Reply #5 on: 05/26/2018 08:29 AM »
Interesting. A small stealth satellite able to rendez-vous with targets thanks to its plasma thrusters and then to spray stuff over their optics would make a good ASAT weapon and create no debris. It could attack any kind of satellite by making their star trackers useless.

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Burevestnik : a new Russian ASAT?
« Reply #6 on: 06/12/2018 09:19 AM »
Some more insight into the Burevestnik project is provided by a procurement plan published in 2015 by a construction company called “Spetsstroi-Engineering”. It lends further support to the idea that Burevestnik is a space-based anti-satellite system and also indicates that the project is comparable in scale to its Soviet-era predecessor "IS". 

An excerpt from this procurement plan was posted by Stan Black on the “Novosti kosmonavtiki” forum in 2016.

This is the part related to Burevestnik:

Реконструкция сооружений под размещение изделия 14К168 ОКР «Буревесник» г. Мирный Архангельская область
Строителство технической позиции под размещение изделия 14К168 г. Тамбов
Реконструкция сооружений под размещение изделия 14К168 ОКР «Буревесник» г. Мирный Архангельская область
Строителство технической позиции под размещение изделия 14К168 п. Дуброво Московская область

The link given to the procurement plan was:ПЛАН%20ЗАКУПОК%202015.xls
However, this now leads to a procurement document that no longer includes the information given above.
The procurement plan mentioned several buildings that were supposed to be constructed as part of  “Experimental Design Work” (OKR) Burevestnik (which is actually spelled incorrectly as “Burevesnik”, a common mistake because the “t” in Burevestnik is not pronounced in Russian). It links Burevestnik to the index 14K168, which seems to be a “system designator” for the launch vehicle, the payload and possibly ground support facilities as well. The satellites themselves likely have a 14F designator, but this has not yet been identified.

This is a literal translation of the excerpt:

- Reconstruction of buildings to house product 14K168, OKR Burevestnik, town of Mirnyy, Arkhangelsk province
- Construction of a technical position to house product 14K168, town of Tambov
- Reconstruction of buildings to house product 14K168, OKR Burevestnik, town of Mirnyy, Arkhangelsk province
- Construction of a technical position to house product 14K168, village of Dubrovo, Moscow region

“Technical position” (TP) usually refers to a collection of buildings rather than a single building. At cosmodromes, for instance, the “technical position” contains all the facilities where satellites and rockets undergo final checks and preparations before being transported to the launch pad  (such as assembly buildings, fueling stations etc.).

So according to plans going back to 2015, infrastructure for Burevestnik was supposed to be constructed at the following locations:

1) MIRNYY  : this is the town that supports the Plesetsk cosmodrome, which tells us that Burevestnik will be based there. For some reason the procurement document mentions Mirnyy twice.

2) TAMBOV :  the site being referred to here is almost certainly the 28th Arsenal of the Space Forces (military unit 14272) in Znamenka-1, not far from the town of Tambov (about 450 km southeast of Moscow). This is a site where rockets and satellites are kept in storage and maintained before being shipped to the launch site (in case they are not directly transported to the launch site from the manufacturer). It is also the place where recovered descent modules of photographic reconnaissance satellites were stripped of usable components.   “Novosti kosmonavtiki” journalists were allowed to visit this formerly top-secret facility in 2011 and wrote an article on it in the September issue that year.  Part of that article is online here:
More pictures here:

3) DUBROVO  (also known as NOGINSK-9, situated north of the city of Noginsk, some 60 km east of Moscow). This is the home of the 821st Main Space Intelligence Centеr (GTsRKO), the headquarters of Russia’s space surveillance network (SKKP), where all the information from the country’s optical and radar space surveillance systems comes together and is processed. There is an English Wikipedia page on it here:

This describes its function as follows : “It maintains the Russian catalogue of space objects and provides data which could be used to support space launches, feed an anti-satellite programme and provide intelligence on hostile military satellites.”

Noginsk-9 was also the location of the ground control facilities for the Soviet-era ASAT project “IS” (“Satellite Destroyer”), which saw numerous test flights between 1963 and 1982. These facilities (known in the Soviet days as Object 224B) were built back in the 1960s before construction of the SKKP headquarters got underway. They consisted of a control center and five radomes, which formed a cross-shaped pattern when seen from the air (one central radome and four peripheral radomes located at exactly the same distance from the central one) (see the attached drawing from a book written by former IS chief designer Konstantin Vlasko-Vlasov). These acted as an interferometer to very precisely determine the orbit of the IS “killer satellites” on the first revolution after launch, making it possible to make final orbital adjustments prior to the intercept of a target satellite.

Adjacent to the IS facilities were exactly the same facilities (one control building, five radomes) for the ocean reconnaissance program known as US (“Controllable Satellite”).  All this hardware (two control buildings and a total of ten radomes) is situated in a forest west of Dubrovo/Noginsk-9 and can easily be seen on Google Earth. See the attached image taken from

Although the procurement document talks about buildings to “house product 14K168”, the facilities under construction at Noginsk-9 as part of Burevestnik are more likely intended for ground control tasks. They are probably being built from scratch. It looks unlikely that any of the Soviet-era facilities used for the IS project can be refurbished.  Pictures taken inside and outside one of the radomes back in 2013 show it to be in a sorry state. See the attached image from this website:

One facility known to be under construction at Noginsk-9 is “Object 1511/1”. Several contracts related to that are available on the website, such as this one:

A contract for the construction of this facility was signed between the Ministry of Defense and Spetsstroi-Engineering on 20 March 2015.  However, it is said to be part of a project called “Sledopyt” (“Pathfinder”). Several online sources describe Sledopyt as a new system to eavesdrop on satellites, replacing an earlier system known as Moment. See for instance here:

So Sledopyt is essentially a ground-based signals intelligence system that complements the information provided by the SKKP’s optical and radar facilities and is therefore not directly related to Burevestnik. Three other Sledopyt facilities are under construction at other locations in Russia : Object 1511/2 in Pionerskiy (Kaliningrad region), 1511/3 in the Primorsk region not far from St-Petersburg and 1511/4 in Shakhi (Altai region).

The construction of dedicated buildings for the Burevestnik project strongly suggests that this is not merely an experimental program, but one that Russia intends to turn into an operational system to be placed on permanent stand-by (like IS in the Soviet days). Especially the construction of facilities at the Space Forces Arsenal in Tambov indicates that hardware for this project will be produced on a relatively large scale (requiring long-term storage).

On a separate note, one design bureau known to be involved in Burevestnik is TsNIIKhM (ЦНИИХМ), the Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics.  In my earlier posts I mentioned that it has two space-related departments, one a nanotechnology lab and the other a so-called Design Bureau for Applied Mechanics (KBPM). The company is also involved in the 14F150 (Cosmos-2519/2521/2523) project and seems to be a manufacturer of small satellites (see the latest post in the Cosmos-2519/2521/2523 thread).

TsNIIKhM may be the manufacturer of the satellite bus for Burevestnik, but it could also have another connection to this project. It turns out that TsNIIKhM was also involved in the Soviet-era “IS” ASAT project, for which it built the explosive charges (under the leadership of Kirill Shamshev).  This is mentioned in a book by former IS chief designer Konstantin Vlasko-Vlasov and also by some other sources such as this one:

Of course, this does not necessarily mean that it performs a similar role in the Burevestnik project, but it is interesting to mention nevertheless. The production of various types of ammunition was the core business of TsNIIKhM and its predecessor NII-6 before it branched out into other areas. The ammunition department of TsNIIKhM is now known as the Center of Ammunition and Special Chemistry. According to the TsNIIKhM it produces "a new generation of gunpowder, solid rocket propellants, explosive and pyrotechnic devices” and designs and produces “ammunition and its components”.

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Burevestnik : a new Russian ASAT?
« Reply #7 on: 07/12/2018 11:00 PM »
A new tender related to the Burevestnik project has appeared on the website:

It deals with infrastructure to be built for the project at the Plesetsk cosmodrome.  More specifically,  a military construction company called the 20th Central Planning Institute (20 TsPI) is looking for a subcontractor to assess suffosion-related hazards for the "construction and reconstruction of buildings to house elements of the 14K168 complex". The name Burevestnik is not actually mentioned, but it is known from an earlier procurement document that 14K168 is the designator for the combination of the launch vehicle and the payload for the Burevestnik project (see the previous post). Suffosion is described by Wikipedia as “one of the two geological processes by which subsidence sinkholes or dolines are formed”.  Bids were expected between 28 June and 6 July.

The construction site is identified in the tender documentation as “Object 7511/4”. “7511” appears to be the general code for ground infrastructure for Burevestnik and is followed by an additional digit that denotes the specific construction site. This means there must also be sites called 7511/1, 7511/2 and 7511/3 (and perhaps more). A search for those on did indeed turn up a contract for “Object 7511/3”, which turns out to be infrastructure for Burevestnik at the 28th Arsenal of the Space Forces (military unit 142472) not far from the town of Tambov (about 450 km southeast of Moscow). As I pointed out in the previous post, this is a site where rockets and satellites are kept in storage and maintained before being shipped to the launch site (in case they are not directly transported to the launch site from the manufacturer).

The tender documentation for this contract is here:

The actual contract (signed on 28 April 2017) as well as a follow-up contract (signed on 13 June 2017)  can be found here:

The contract was signed between another construction company called  the 31st State Planning Institute for Special Construction (31 GPISS) (more specifically, one of its affiliates called the Kaliningrad Naval Planning Institute or KMPI) and the forestry management department of the Ministry of Defense (FGAU Oboronles). Oboronles was to conduct a forestry management assessment “for the construction and reconstruction of technical buildings” for Burevestnik covering an area of 3.65 hectares (about 9 acres). Burevestnik is described as a "space security complex".  Reference is made to a contract signed between the Ministry of Defense and 31 GPISS on 20 October 2015.  31 GPISS has built infrastructure at all of Russia’s cosmodromes as well as ground control stations across the country. Its website is here:

All this doesn’t add very much to what is already known about ground infrastructure for Burevestnik (see the previous post). That information was based on a procurement plan for 2015 of a construction company called  Spetsstroi-Engineering. The fact that this company is not mentioned in these later documents suggests that it ultimately did not get the contract to build the infrastructure. The Spetsstroi-Engineering procurement plan mentioned four planned construction sites for Burevestnik : two at Plesetsk, one in the Tambov region and one in Dubrovo (Noginsk-9). Therefore it is reasonable to speculate that sites 7511/1 and 7511/2 (which don’t show up in the procurement documentation available online) are ground control facilities for Burevestnik in Dubrovo and the second construction site at Plesetsk.

All that can be deduced from the new documents is that contracts for the construction of this infrastructure have actually been awarded, but that construction has not yet begun or is still in its very early stages (sinkhole risk assessments and forestry management assessments would obviously have to be made before construction gets underway). That would indicate that any test flights of Burevestnik may still be a long way away (unless use is made of existing ground infrastructure for other projects).   

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Burevestnik : a new Russian ASAT?
« Reply #8 on: 09/05/2018 12:40 PM »
Yet another building contract related to the Burevestnik ASAT project has surfaced on the website:

- Предмет договора : МТР (отопительное оборудование)
- Объект строительства: Строительство (реконструкция) зданий и сооружений объекта 3006М (н.п. Ногинск-9) под размещение сегмента информационного обеспечения в рамках ОКР «Нивелир»,  «Буревестник», шифр объекта 1009/5, по адресу: Московская область, Ногинский район, п. Ногинск-9, в/ч 28289.

It deals with the delivery of heating systems to a building called 1009/5, which is literally described as “an information support segment in the framework of OKR (experimental design work) Nivelir and Burevestnik”. This building is part of “Object 3006M”, which is a code-name for the 821st Main Space Intelligence Center (the headquarters of Russia’s space surveillance network) in Noginsk-9 (Dubrovo), operated by Military Unit 28289. The contract was awarded this summer by a military construction company called FGUP GVSU N°12.

What is interesting here is that projects Burevestnik and Nivelir are mentioned together. Nivelir has been linked to the production code 14F150, which in turn has been linked to the Cosmos-2519/2521/2523 “space inspector” mission.  A likely role for the Main Space Intelligence Center in both projects (ASATs and inspectors) would be to assemble information on potential targets obtained by both optical and radar space surveillance sites spread across the country. 

The relation between Burevestnik and Nivelir could go further than that, such as the sharing of certain satellite components. One indication in that direction is that a company called TsNIIKhM is involved in both projects. TsNIIKhM signed a contract with NPO Lavochkin related to 14F150 on 1 December 2011 and is also mentioned in several contracts related to Burevestnik in 2016/2017 (see my earlier posts in the Burevestnik and Cosmos-2519/2521/2523 threads).

It’s also interesting to note that one month before signing the contract with NPO Lavochkin on 14F150, TsNIIKhM signed a contract with KB Tochmash (the “Nudelman bureau”), which is also known to be involved in Burevestnik. This contract is mentioned in this court document:.

However, the document does not say what the contract was related to, so we can only speculate that it was related to Burevestnik. It is known from other court documents that TsNIIKhM signed a contract with MKB Kompas on a theme called “Burevestnik-M-ASN” (presumably related to satellite navigation equipment) one month after the contract with NPO Lavochkin.

Putting the three contracts together, we have:

TsNIIKhM – KB Tochmash (possibly on Burevestnik) :  1 November 2011  (N° 89/11-22/845-G)
TsNIIKhM – NPO Lavochkin (on 14F150) :   1 December 2011  (N° 80/0027-I-12/839-G)
TsNIIKhM – MKB Kompas (on Burevestnik-M-ASN) : 1 January 2012 (N° 879G) (probably just the last part of the actual contract number)

There are some similarities in the contract numbers, but I don't know if these are significant.

Also note that the themes “Burevestnik” and “Nivelir” (as well as “Napryazheniye”) appear right under one another in the annual reports of RNII Elektronstandart (a company that tests electronic components) for 2012, 2013 and 2014. Again, not necessarily indicative of a link, but interesting nevertheless. See for instance the 2012 report:

And just a reminder that last month a US State Department official said that Cosmos-2523 has clearly not been doing what the Russians said it would do  (namely to perform close-up inspections of another satellite) and alluded to the fact that it may be related to a space weapon development program (see the C-2519/2521/2523 thread).

I don’t know if that assumption is sheer speculation or based on intelligence.  At any rate, the apparent link between Burevestnik and Nivelir does make it conceivable that elements of Burevestnik are already  being tested in orbit.