S-300 Series 36D6/ST-68 Tien Shield And 64N6E BIg Bird
While the S-300 36D6/ST-68UM Tin Shield remained available, the S-300PMU-1 introduced the new highly mobile NIIIP 64N6E Big Bird 3D search and acquisition radar, carried on a 8x8 MAZ-7910 series vehicle. The radar can be deployed or stowed in five minutes – the booms stow against the array, the outer panels of the array swing inward and the whole antenna stows forward to lie flat on top of the trailer.
The 64N6E Big Bird is the key to much of the improved engagement capability, and ballistic missile intercept capability in the later S-300P variants. This system operates in the 2 GHz horn placed at the end of the long boom which protects the waveguides to the transmitters and receivers in the cabin. The beam steering electronics are embedded inside the antenna array, which has around 2700 phase shift elements on either
This ‘Janus faced’ arrangement permits the Big Bird to concurrently search two 90 degree sectors, in opposite directions, using mechanical rotation to position the antenna and electronic beam steering in azimuth and elevation. This design technique permits incremental growth in output power as the only components of the system which have to handle high microwave power levels are the waveguide and feed horn.
The 64N6E is a frequency hopper, and incorporates additional auxiliary antenna/receiver channels for suppression of sidelobe jammers – NIIP claims the ability to measure accurate bearing to jamming sources. The back end processing is Moving Target Indicator (MTI), and like the Aegis the system software can partition the instantaneous sector being covered into smaller zones for specific searches. To enhance MTI
performance the system can make use of stored clutter returns from multiple preceding sweeps. Detection ranges for small fighter targets are of the order of 140 to 150nm (260 to 465km) for early variants. Per 12 second sweep 200 targets can be detected, and either six or twelve can be individually tracked for engagements.
While the Big Bird provides an excellent acquisition capability against aerial and ballistic missile targets, the 5V55 missile was inadequate. The S-300PM/PMU-1 introduced the 48N6 which has much better kinematics – cited range against aerial targets is 81nm (150km), ballistic missile targets 21.5nm (40km), with a minimum engagement range of 1.6 to 2.7 nautical miles. Low altitude engagement capabilities were improved – down to 20 to 30ft AGL. The missile speed peaks at 2100 metres/sec or cca Mach 6. The missiles can be fired at three second intervals, and Russian sources claim a single shot kill probability of 80% to 93% for aerial targets, 40% to 85% for cruise missiles, and 50% to 77% for TBMs.
A typical S-300PM/PMU-1 battery comprises a 30N6E1 engagement radar, a 76N6 low level early warning/acquisition radar and up to 12 5P85S/5P85T (SE/TE export variant) TELs, each with four 48N6 rounds. A PVO battalion then combines up to six batteries, using a shared 64N6E acquisition radar, supported by a 54K6E command post.
China has to date been the principal export client for the system, acquiring between 4 and 6 batteries of the S-300PMU between 1991 and 1994, and supplementing these with further buys. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA)’s systems include both fully mobile 5P85SU/DU and road mobile 5P85T series TELs. The total PLA inventory has not been disclosed publicly.
|S-300 64N6E BIg Bird|
An option for the S-300PS/PMU, S-300PM/PMU-1 and followon S-300PMU-2 cited by two Russian manufacturers is the new LEMZ 96L6 early warning and acquisition radar, a planar array design with electronic beam steering in elevation and mechanical steering in azimuth. It is intended as a replacement for the Tin Shield and Clam Shell. The 96L6/96L6E is available in semimobile towed versions, a semi-mobile mast mounted version using variants of the 40V6M/MD, and a fully mobile version on an 8x8 MZKT-7930 vehicle, based on the MAZ-543M chassis.
LEMZ claims a detection range of 160nm (295km), and the ability to track up to 100 targets, an IFF array is collocated with the antenna. The system has an interface for digital data transmission directly to a 30N6E/E1/E2 Flap Lid, using cabled links to the S-300PMU/PMU-1 and optical fibre cables or microwave
links to the S-300PMU-2. Deployment and stow time is five minutes for the mobile variant, and 30 to 120 minutes for the semi-mobile and mast mounted variants respectively.