The Moscow Times, citing the Russian Vorstka (Layout) Telegram channel, says that the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk International Airport in Russia's far eastern, North Pacific Sakhalin Island has issued a tender to buy a comprehensive defensive package to protect it from unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attack. The estimated value of which is said to be around 294.6 million rubles ($3.3 million). This prompted Vortska to ask who is the attacker they fear?

The airport was opened with much fanfare in May 2023 boasting it had installed the latest innovative technology including state-of-the-art security equipment such as radiation monitoring tools and video surveillance, using almost 400 cameras situated in every area of the facility, both inside and outside the terminal buildings.

Access control is through an automated door management system, luggage trolleys are equipped with electronic tags, panic buttons are positioned in all areas and even loading and unloading of luggage is automated.

The requirement contained in the latest bid documents is to be able to detect aircraft-type drones at 10 kilometers and quadcopter-type drones at 3 kilometers. Vorstka analysis of the tender indicates the system will consist of three elements:

  • “Enot” radar that is designed for the automatic detection of small UAV, ground and surface targets, target localization and designation integrated with video and EW systems.
  • “Polyana” EW countermeasures, mounted on 30-meter-high masts, to detect and disrupt the drone’s control signals, and then to emit its own signals to throw the drones off course.
  • “Racoon” command and control station to manage and integrate system elements.

In its report Vorstka wonders why the airport, which is more than 7.000 kilometers from the border with Ukraine, needs an anti-drone system, particularly one that seems to be optimized for drones used by the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU). Currently the maximum range of Kyiv’s drones have been around 1,800 kilometers – when they hit the Voronezh-M long-range target detection radar station in Orsk, in the Orenburg region at the end of May.

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The Economist magazine reported in April that the Ukrainian design bureau Luch was producing the Sokol-3000 UAV, said to have a 3,000 plus kilometer range. That would put targets in the Far North of Russia, Siberia and particularly the 80 military bases and airfields located in the Murmansk region, from where many of Russia’s strategic bombers are attacking Ukraine within range and at risk. There is nothing on the horizon capable of reaching Russia’s Far East (if fired from within Ukraine).

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