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Russia counters Ukrainian drones with Sobolyatnik reconnaissance systems

On January 10, 2024, information emerged from Russian social media sources about the deployment of the 1L277 Sobolyatnik portable ground reconnaissance radar stations by the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine. This development is indicative of an attempt to improve surveillance in the conflict area, particularly in response to the use of drones by Ukrainian forces, which have been a notable aspect of the conflict.
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A Russian reconnaissance observer mentioned the coordinated use of the Sobolyatnik radar with UAV operators, focusing on gathering intelligence about Ukrainian reserves and equipment. (Picture source: Zvezda News)

The radar's use is reported across various Russian military units. In the Kupyansk direction, Russian soldiers claimed that the radar has demonstrated the capability to detect both moving and static targets up to 30 km away. A reconnaissance observer from the Russian Western Group of Forces has mentioned the coordinated use of the Sobolyatnik radar with UAV operators, focusing on gathering intelligence about Ukrainian reserves and equipment. This coordinated effort is indicative of an emphasis on monitoring Ukrainian military movements.

Apart from surveillance, the radar is also used in artillery reconnaissance, assisting in the detection and tracking of targets for artillery adjustment, including monitoring shell paths and bursts. This capability is noted to enhance the training and operational efficiency of reconnaissance personnel.

Its compact size and weight (only 36 kg) allow for its rapid deployment and dismantling time, requiring only a few minutes to switch from operational to marching status, and can be transported and operated by two people. The radar's low detectability, as described by its developers, is attributed to its pulse radiation being lower than that of a standard mobile phone.

The Sobolyatnik, developed by Tula NPO Strela, a part of Almaz-Antey, was first presented at the MAKS-2013 defense exhibition. It is a semiconductor station, weighing 36 kg, designed to be carried by two people. The station can be set up and dismantled quickly, a feature that is presumably useful in certain operational contexts. It is capable of monitoring within a 20 km radius and can track up to 20 targets with an accuracy of 10 meters.

The types of targets it can track include mobile objects like howitzers, tanks, and armored personnel carriers. Additionally, the Sobolyatnik has counter-battery capabilities to track the trajectory of projectiles and determine their launch and impact locations. Notably, in Ukraine, the Sobolyatnik has also been recognized for its ability to detect unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The Sobolyatnik has an electronically scanned antenna beam for area scanning and uses digitally formed wideband signals to provide high-resolution target information. The radar can detect a man at a distance of up to 7 km, a tank at up to 17 km, and a truck at up to 20 km. Additionally, it can operate continuously for up to 6 hours on its associated storage battery.

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The 1L277 Sobolyatnik portable ground reconnaissance station was displayed during the 2017 Ground Forces Day. (Picture source: Vitaly Kuzmin)


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