October 18, 2010:
Russia has put its second new Voronezh-DM ballistic missile warning radar into operation. This one is on the east coast of the Black Sea, in Russia's Armavir region. The first of these new radars went online four years ago, outside St Petersburg.
All this radar building activity was caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the destruction of the Russian ballistic missile early warning system. This came about because each of the fourteen new nations, carved out of the Soviet Union, got to keep whatever government property that was within the new borders. That meant many of the radar stations that formed the Soviet ICBM early warning system were now owned by foreign countries. A combination of disputes over money, and aging electronics, eventually put many of those early warning radars out of action. The two in Ukraine recently went off line.
The rising price of oil over the last decade provided Russia with the cash to rebuild its ballistic missile early warning radar system. The first one, outside St Petersburg, was built in 18 months (versus over ten years for the ones it replaced). The new design uses much less electricity, has a smaller staff and is more reliable. Russia has adopted much Western technology, and work practices, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and it all shows in this radar station. The St Petersburg facility replaces one that was in Latvia, and was dismantled in 2003, after going off line in 1998. The new radar in Armavir was built to replace defunct Soviet era radars in Azerbaijan and Ukraine. The Voronezh-DM radar has a range of 4,000 kilometers.