Author Topic: Kalina: a ground-based laser ASAT system?  (Read 4899 times)

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Kalina: a ground-based laser ASAT system?
« on: 10/02/2018 11:54 pm »
As I have mentioned in an article published this week in "Jane's Intelligence Review" (subscription only), there is evidence that an optical/laser space surveillance system in the North Caucasus is being upgraded to perform an ASAT role. The system is part of the Krona complex, situated on the Chapal mountain near Zelenchukskaya. Krona (Ministry of Defense designator 45Zh6) consists of a radar installation (designated 40Zh6) to identify satellites and categorize them by type and a so-called “laser optical locator” (LOL or 30Zh6) (see the attached satellite image showing their location). This comprises a 0.4 m wide-angle telescope for the detection of satellites in high orbits and a 1.3 m narrow-angle telescope with adaptive optics for high-resolution imaging of satellites in low orbits (together called the “passive channel”).  Housed in an adjacent building is a lidar (called the “transmit/receive channel”) used to accurately measure distances to satellites (see attachment). 

The 30Zh6 optical complex entered service in 2005 and was soon renamed 30Zh6M after undergoing unspecified modifications. Early this decade work got underway on a further upgrade of the complex under a project code-named Kalina (“guelder rose”), led by the Scientific and Industrial Corporation “Precision Instrument Systems” (NPK SPP).

A bank guarantee document related to Kalina and published online in January 2014 literally describes its goal as follows:

«Создание канала функционального подавления оптико-электронных систем КА в составе лазерного оптического локатора СККП 30Ж6М с использованием твердотельных лазеров и приемно-передающей адаптивной оптической системы» для нужд Министерства обороны РФ  шифр: ОКР «Калина»

Which translates as:

“The creation of a channel for the functional suppression of electro-optical systems of satellites as part of the laser optical locator 30Zh6M of the Space Surveillance System using  solid-state lasers and a transmit/receive adaptive optics system in the interests of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. Code: Experimental Design Work (OKR) Kalina".

“Functional suppression of electro-optical sensors” very much sounds like a euphemism for dazzling or blinding of satellite sensors. Dazzling is the temporary blinding of sensors by swamping them with light that is brighter than what they are trying to image. Blinding would cause permanent damage to such systems. More background on dazzling and blinding can be found in this 2005 reference manual of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences:
(p. 125-130)

Further evidence for the development of a laser ASAT capability by NPK SPP came in the company’s annual report for 2013:
(p. 52)

За 2013 год более трети совокупной годовой выручки приносил выпуск оптико-электронных систем для авиационных летательных аппаратов (рост с 32% до 37%). Кроме того, значительные темпы роста продемонстрировал выпуск информационно-расчетных систем в интересах ГЛОНАСС (рост с 2% до 12%), а также выпуск лазерных систем оптико-электронной борьбы (рост с 2% до 7%) и космических систем регистрации чрезвычайных ситуаций (рост с 6% до 12%).

In short, the report stated that in 2013 “laser systems for electro-optical warfare” comprised 7 % of NPK SPP's business compared to just 2 % the year before.

Several procurement documents related to OKR Kalina reveal that specifications for the system were approved by the Ministry of Defense on 28 April 2011 and that NPK SPP was awarded a contract for the project on 3 November 2011. They now refer to the laser optical complex as 30Zh6MK (with the “K” possibly standing for “Kalina”).

Contracts available on :

- 2014 : NPK SPP – Bauman State Technical University (MGTU) (project name “Kalina-MGTU”) (related to the adaptive optics system)

 - 2015 : NPK SPP – NTTs KAMI  (project name “Kalina-SVU”) (for computer equipment)

- 2015 : NPK SPP – OOO OTOL (for dust protection systems)

- 2018 : NPK SPP -  OOO PF NT (for alignment equipment)

Also available online:

- technical specifications for the adaptive optics system (2012, signed by 30Zh6MK chief designer Aleksandr B. Aleksandrov)

- a 2012 contract between NPK SPP and NTTs KAMI on a system to prevent unauthorized access to information provided by Kalina (project name “Kalina-SiZI”)

- information related to a digital drive mechanism (apparently for the adaptive optics system) developed for Kalina by the University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO) in St. Petersburg (project name “Kalina-TsESP”)

The current status of Kalina is not clear. A corporate newsletter of NPK SPP published in December 2016 said 2017 would prove to be a crucial year for Kalina after many years of delays.

A more advanced optical/laser system for Russia’s space surveillance network is expected to become operational next year at the Titov Optical Laser Centre (AOLTs) in the Altai mountain range. The laser will be linked to a 3.12 m space surveillance telescope (TI-3.12) which will almost match the capabilities of the Advanced Electro-Optical System (AEOS) operated by the US Air Force in Hawaii. 

In May this year NPK SPP presented a proposal to the Academy of Sciences’ Space Council to outfit the complex with solid-state lasers of the ITMO University to deorbit small space debris particles. The PowerPoint presentation is available here:
(click on presentation nr. 5 by NPK SPP director V.D. Shargorodskiy)

The idea is to zap small pieces of space debris with a solid-state laser linked to a transmit/receive adaptive optical system. The laser energy ablates a thin surface layer from a debris particle, forming a small plasma jet on the object that slightly slows it and eventually causes it re-enter and burn up in the atmosphere. This laser orbital debris removal (LODR) technology has also been studied in the U.S. (most notably under Project Orion in the 1990s), but has been criticized for its potential ASAT applications. The question therefore arises if the capability offered by this proposed laser debris removal system can be expanded to serve the same ASAT goal as Kalina. Some Western media jumped to the conclusion that it can after news of the NPK SPP presentation was released in the Russian media last June:

Offline B. Hendrickx

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Re: Kalina: a ground-based laser ASAT system?
« Reply #1 on: 07/06/2022 08:24 am »
There is strong evidence that the Krona space surveillance complex in Russia’s northern Caucasus is being outfitted with a new laser system called Kalina that will target optical systems of foreign imaging satellites flying over Russian territory. Initiated in 2011, the project has suffered numerous delays, but recent Google Earth imagery shows that construction is now well underway. Kalina will complement a mobile laser dazzler known as Peresvet that has been operational since late 2019.

All the details in this week's edition of The Space Review:

Two images attached:
-a Google Earth picture from last March shows that a new telescope dome has appeared just south of an older building. The new building houses a 1-meter telescope needed to accurately aim laser beams at satellites. The laser beams are produced by at least two lasers in the older building and transferred to the new telescope through a tunnel connecting the two buildings.
-a drawing of the new telescope from tender documentation published in 2015.


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