March 19th 2020 produced an interesting news story from TASS regarding a new Konteyner 29B6 OTHR system that is to be deployed in the Kaliningrad Oblast.
Now, I still have my doubts about it being deployed here, and my first impressions were that it was just propaganda, but it still needs analysing to see what it could produce.
The article, sourcing a “Military-industrial complex”, mentions that the system is to cover the whole of Europe, including Great Britain.
This is, in itself, interesting as most of Europe is actually already covered by the system at Kovylkino. The mention of Great Britain specifically also is interesting as another Konteyner OTHR to cover this country would really only give an extra few seconds of warning that anything was coming from this direction. Moreover, I suspect that the Kovylkino system does actually cover Great Britain anyway, especially with the pulse rates of the system that I’ve analysed myself.
Looking at the image below you can see that if a system was placed at the rough centre of the Oblast, then only France, Spain and Iceland – along with GB – would be the extra countries that would be covered. The east of France is already covered as it is.
Personally, I wonder if – whilst GB might get extra coverage – the true targeting of the system would be to the North.
The Russian military have long been saying that they want to cover the Barents Sea and up to the North Pole with an early warning radar – specifically Konteyner – so this could be it.
If we adjust the predicted coverage to the North in an image then you get the following.
So, depending on the azimuths of the arrays used, we can see that GB, Iceland, East Greenland, North Sea, Norwegian Sea, Barents Sea, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Svalbard archipelago and the Noveya Zemlya archipelago (Severny Island and Yuzhny Island) could be covered by a four array system.Norway and Sweden are already partially covered by Kovylkino.
To me, this is the more likely coverage that will be created SHOULD a Konteyner system be placed in the Kaliningrad Oblast. And it is a should!
The TASS article states that multiple sites are being considered. The system at a minimum requires two sites. And the Oblast is not very big.
In all reality, the city of Kaliningrad itself is just 30 km from the Polish border. It would not take very long for a strike from a foreign land based missile site to reach a Konteyner site in the centre of the Oblast. It is because of this fact that I have my doubts about one being sited here, but who knows?
But say they do choose the Oblast for system two, where’s the likely spot?
If anything is to go by, with their previous sites, near an airfield seems to be a good choice, be it one in service, or one that could be quickly reinstated.
There’s a number of abandoned sites, including:
- Chernyakhovsk at 54°36’7.12″N 21°47’29.07″E
- Nivenskoye at 54°33’48.13″N 20°36’13.02″E
- Marienkhof at 54°51’57.25″N 20°11’0.92″E
Chernyakhovsk has a large military presence – as does the whole of the Oblast to be honest! – and some work has been started at 54°39’1.12″N 21°48’24.77″E that I’ve been monitoring since mid 2019. Here there have been a number of small buildings about 3 metres wide since at least 2005 but I think these are something to do with oil or gas extraction – as is the new development. Moreover, the shape isn’t right for Konteyner as can be seen below.
Marienkhof (Dunayevka) is the location of a Voronezh-DM Early Warning radar that is situated to the SE of the old airfield. There is plenty of land around here for extra development. Moreover, out to the west coast is Yantarny which is home to the 841st Independent EW centre, and to the north is a SIGINT site at Pionersky that houses one of the new Sledopyt satellite signal interception systems amongst others.
Nivenskoye certainly has a lot of land available, but it is the nearest site to the Polish border and certainly not top of my list.
My favourite area would have to be near to Marienkhof due to the location of other Russian systems of this “type” – radio/radar/SIGINT based systems. The area is almost as far as you can get from any land based threats, though of course anything from the sea would not be that far.
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what develops. One thing is for sure, the system stands out once you have an area of interest and this area is not that big to continually monitor.