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Hey, Invisible, I can see you: F-35 on Russian radars

Fifth-generation American fighters  are seen through thousands of kilometers with the help of the “Container”.

Remember the Herbert Wells science fiction novel, The Invisible Man? It makes no sense to retell the plot about the English scientist Griffin, who invented the apparatus that makes a person invisible. There is an emphasis on the fact that even if it were possible to develop practical invisibility, such a person would be blind. The situation is the same with the so-called invisible aircraft, the most famous of which is the fifth-generation American fighter F-35. It is believed that it is almost impossible to detect by any means of radar detection available now. However, with all the stealth technologies, the aircraft itself must have powerful “vision”, and it is impossible to hide it.


When the US F-117 attack aircraft in 2003 overcame Iraq’s air defense system with impunity and bombed Baghdad with impunity, US Air Force commander John Welch proudly said: “Stealth technology has returned us to that fundamental principle of warfare, which is called a surprise.” Subsequently, the Americans endowed the fifth-generation fighter F-22 with unusual qualities of invisibility, and then the F-35 fighter, which is now positioned as the best in the world. Here the Americans surpassed themselves in advertising their fighter, which since 2002 has been developed as part of an international program and should go into service with the Air Force of 11 countries, including the United States itself. Invisible aircraft, which is a fighter-bomber, are credited with incredible combat qualities, including an “all-pervasive” role in future armed conflicts.


The myth of the invisibility and invulnerability of the F-35 was debunked with the help of the latest Russian radars, which immediately spotted 6 such aircraft at the borders with Iran. This happened shortly after the Iranian missile attack on US military bases in Iraq and the increased activity of American aircraft in the air. The information that the Russian air defense was detected and identified by the US Air Force fighters was voiced by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, while he emphasized that Russian air defense is capable of controlling distances of thousands of kilometers. And Sergey Lavrov did not dissemble and did not bluff at all – the capabilities of the newest Container radar station allow to fix and recognize air targets, including those made using the stealth technology, at a range of up to 3 thousand kilometers.


The first over-the-horizon radar station “Container” (index 29B6) was put into service on December 1, 2019. High performance of this radar is provided by a special design. The station includes two antenna fields for transmitting and receiving signals, spaced 300 kilometers away. The transmitting part of the “Container” is deployed in the Nizhny Novgorod region, and the receiving antennas are installed in Mordovia. If you look at the map, then even to Baghdad the station easily “finishes off” – 2,500 and 2,300 kilometers, respectively. So the station can easily consider air targets at such a distance, even if they were the notorious F-35 invisibles. A “container” in general can simultaneously hold about a thousand aircraft in sight and recognize their affiliation.


That is, aircraft made using the stealth technology for the Container are not invisible at all and the F-35 will in any case fall into the radar’s field of view and, accordingly, will lose its main trump card – the suddenness of defeat.

  • There are no such stations in the world, – said the chief designer of the station, Mikhail Petrov, in a recent interview.
  • Such funds are developed by the USA, Great Britain, France and China is actively working, there are existing models in Australia. But in such a composition, with such a powerful software and algorithmic complex, there are no such tools in the world. Here we can recall that Russia was able to create a continuous radar field around all its borders, including in the Arctic with its vast thousands of kilometers. All adjacent territories and sea areas were under control, when each aircraft took off, and the system is able to determine whether it is a combat flight or a regular passenger flight.


The Container radar is not the only Russian station for radar detection of potential threats from the air, it has a distant zone and it is blind at a distance of 900 kilometers.


For this, there are others, for example, “Nebo-M” (“Nebo-U”, “Nebo-IED”), that means Sky, which scan the heavenly space at a closer, about 400 kilometers, distance. There are other radars that are capable of guaranteed to detect both cruise and ballistic missiles, and aircraft that pose a threat. Among the expected ones is the Voronezh-M radar, which will be deployed in the Crimea in the near future (terms from 2020 to 2023), its potential is the entire Middle East, the Mediterranean Sea, right up to Gibraltar.


Russian developments in the field of radar systems, which have the ability to detect stealth aircraft, “nullified” the entire US strategy to penetrate unnoticed to any territory if possible. “Surprise”, similar to that which was shown by the USA in Iraq, will no longer be by definition. And the F-35 becomes a regular air target, which is in sight and will be guaranteed shot down. There is reason to think to potential buyers of this aircraft, which is being imposed on a number of countries precisely as “invisibility”. And the opposite effect is the growing demand for Russian radar systems, which are already considered the most effective in the world. Iran, as well as India, China, Egypt, Algeria are already showing interest. However, the same Iran can conclude an agreement with Russia, allowing the exchange of data on air defense. And, say, Tehran could get accurate data about the Ukrainian take-off airliner, which was confused with an American cruise missile.


It is planned that the Container radar, along with other new radar stations, will be deployed in all strategic directions – west, northwest, east and south. In general, the fly will not fly unnoticed, not to mention the missiles or aircraft of the United States or its NATO allies approaching the air borders of Russia. The American fighter will become easy prey for the latest Russian air defense systems.

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