Here I'm trying to describe a bit more in detail some systems and communication means of the Navy.
The Navy is - mostly through its SSBNs - an important part of the Nuclear Armed Forces and therefore uses systems and equipment, which fits the overall doctrine. This and the fact, that the Russian/CIS Navy still uses some decodable communication modes, opens a keyhole for the inclined listener in order to draw some simple conclusions.
Control of SSBNs on military patrol is conducted by the General Staff of the Russian Federation Armed Forces through the Navy's Main Staff according to the Nuclear Armed Forces Systems and doctrine as described here: 5. Nuclear C3 Network
Continously working transmitting/ receiving radio - and space communication centers are deployed thoughout Russia. This control system includes permanent stations working on different frequencies: satellite -, aircraft - and ship relays, mobile ground stations and hydracoustic stations and - relays. All elements of the control system are interconnected both by cable and radio waves.
Secure transmission of launch order signals to SSBNs on patrol is guaranteed by transmission over a group of frequencies, but not less than 2 on VLF, 5 on HF and 5 via satellite. The transmission sked is continously adapted for best communication.
Transmitted ELF signals will - unlike shorter wavelengths - penetrate seawater to depths of Hundreds of meters, depending on temperature and salinity. The signals of the Russian ELF station ZEVS on the Kola peninsula, may be received by SSBNs around the globe. Due to the low bandwidth of the Morse code, transmission speed is very low. At a fixed sked short orders for all SSBNs are sent, some codes may, for example, tell them to surface, for reception of more orders on higher frequencies in fast transmission modes. In peacetime an „all is normal„ code is continously transmitted. Any interruption will indicate an alert situation. A more in depth description of ZEVS can be found here: http://www.vlf.it/zevs/zevs.htm
VLF signals will penetrate seawater to depths of around 20 m. Submarines must rise to periscope depth and deploy their floating antenna for best reception. SSBNs can be reached on VLF on great parts of the Oceans (not in parts of the Southern hemisphere, in the Western Atlantic and in the Eastern Pacific) through 5 permanent VLF stations . VLF transmissions carry not only general orders for all or parts of the SSBNs, but also combat control signals.
We can hear quite easely these FSK transmissions in Morse code - or 36/50 Baud modulation around the clock as described here in detail: 1.2.2. VLF Transmission Skeds and Formats
Mobile ground and airborne VLF stations will relay combat directives, in the case the primary stations have been damaged by an enemy. Since 1985 the Soviet Union made use of the TU-142 RT communication aircraft with its transmitting antenna stretching over several kilometers. 1992 seven TU-142 RT planes were based at the Pacific Fleet bases and six in the Northern Fleet.
In 2008 VGK's VLF network consisted of 6 transmitters, which are described more in detail here. These stations seem to be involved into the Signal-A/V'yuga System. Sincere thanks to Rimantas Pleikys for his corrections and amendments.
|Location/purpose||Operated by||Call Sign|
|Vileyka/Molodechno (BLR), mostly time/phase synchronisation signal. Maybe modernization is ahead (or closure...). Location is 54N27.8 26E46.7.||31st Communications Hub, radio station nr. 43, nicknamed "Antey", military unit 49390.||RJH69|
|Kara Balta/Chaldovar (KGZ), time/phase synchronization signal and VGK tfc. Location is 43N1.9 73E36.8.||338th Communications Hub, nicknamed "Prometey".||RJH66|
|Khabarovsk Vladimirovka (RUS), time/phase synchronization signal and VGK tfc. Location is 48N29.1 134E49.2.||Nickname is "Gerkules"||RAB99|
|Martanskaya, Krasnodar area (RUS), time/phase synchronization signal and VGK tfc. Station has been modernized with solid state transmitters. Location is 44N46.4 39E32.8.||Nickname is "Gerakl"||RJH63|
|Druzhny/Nizhniy Novgorod (RUS), time/phase synchronisation signals and VGK tfc. Station has been modernized with solid state transmitters. This is German "Goliath" from WWII. Location at 56N10.4 43E56.||270th Communication Hub, nickname "Golyaf-2MK", military unit 36206||RJH99|
|Arkhangelsk (RUS), time/phase synchronization signal and VGK tfc. Location is 64N21.5 41E33.6||Nickname "Atlant"||RJH77|
Specifications and pictures of the transmission sites:
All transmitters are active 24/7. Their estimated power is 1'000 kW (EIRP 30...50 kW). The frequencies in use are 18,1 - 20,5 - 23,0 - 25,0 - 25,1 and 25,5 kHz. 18,1 kHz is only used for VGKs FSK transmissions in Morse Code or CIS 36/50 (aka T-600 or BEE mode).
Only one VLF station is on the air at any time, the schedule being unknown. Any single station can be used at any time slot.
All other frequencies are used in turn for dissemination of time/phase synchronization signals, the schedule of RJH63 being different from the other transmitters.
A multitude of HF channels parallel to 18,1 kHz allow monitoring the network on higher frequencies too. Some of the HF transmitters might be co-located at the 6 VLF transmitter sites. HF channels constantly change, I haven't found a sked so far, but these frequencies may be worth to listen to: 14411, 14664, 10535, 7657, 6342, 5438 kHz. Non parallel CIS 36/50 traffic may be found on many other frequencies, as this mode is widely used in CIS forces.
General Staffs short CIS 36/50 messages normally are sent at h+08 and h+28, long ones at h+48. Transmissions at h+18, h+38 and h+58 are possible as well. Short and long Morse messages as well as Morse xxx messages can be sent at any time. xxx messages nearly always are disseminated in batches, spaced only a few minutes. Trafficload varies much from day to day, exceptions in the sked are always possible.
The following message formats have been observed so far:
- short routine message CIS 36/50 mode
- long message CIS 36/50 mode, sometimes preceded with „xxx xxx„ in Morse code
- short routine messages Morse code, containing a callsign and 2 5FG (repeated twice).
- long messages Morse code, many 5FG, some with decode key and final group containing day/group count.
- xxx Strategic Flash Messages in Morse code. See as well: Morse Code Networks
CIS is a synchronous FSK mode with 200 Hz shift, which starts idling with 36 Baud and than switches to 50 Baud for synchronization and message. All tfc is encrypted, HOKA states, there is a 5-repetition cycle. Besides the T-600 modem other equipment is in use today as well. CIS 36/50 transmissions start with a synch string and are regularly re-synchronized. So far VLF - and HF transmissions used the same synch strings.
Short routine messages are made up of 3 individual messages, which are repeated during the same day. Next day another text is repeated. There are exceptions.
Long messages normally start immediately after the h+48 routine message and a 1 min "010101..." 36 Bd idle period. They too are made up of 3 individual messages, which are not repeated. They all are of the same length and end at h+55, but 6 messages are possible as well.
Long xxx messages are sent at any time, again the same text is sent 3 times.
Morse code messages are handsent. Possible op errors so far observed were: wrong text, wrong message, tipos. All messages end with "k", but an acknowledgement of the counterpart never has been heard - obviously other channels are used.
Morse - and CIS 36/50 messages may start with "uuuuu", the number of letters can vary. The meaning is not clear, in the USSR Forces it simply said: "Transmission in your direction starts now," and "bbbbb" translates to: "Transmission in my direction starts now."
CIS 36/50 messages are decodable, the text remains encrypted, but the Morse code messages contain callsigns in clear. It is therefore an assumption, that the CIS 36/50 messages will go to the same addressees. Some 3L callsigns have been used in the past in Morse messages:
- RDL for short routine messages, for long 5FG messages and for Strategic Flash Messages
- REU, RDL, RKS, RED4,RJS, RLO for Strategic Flash Messages
3 letter callsigns are used for the Fleet HQs or for „all units concerned„. It is not clear, who is who. I've noted many changes since 2010: new callsigns came in use, XXX Flash Messages are sent very irregularly - dozens of them one day and next week nothing, new formats as well, with other groups of figures, etc.
Are now - after so many years - major changes of this network ahead soon? Is there a connection with the never ending story about dislocation of the Navy HQ to St.Petersburg or with the Armed Forces new structure since last year? Who knows.
This network is the most diversified. It includes a multitude of permanent mobile ground radio centers and radio relays. It also uses satellite -, airborne - and ship relays. At the dawn of the Soviet Unions strategic fleet this network was the only mean to communicate with remote submarines off the US coasts. As VHF/UHF signals do not propagate over the horizon and require special antennas, we prefer listening on HF for FSK transmissions in Morse code - or 36/50 Baud modulation, which are disseminated in parallel to the VLF transmissions.
HF and VHF do not travel through water, submarines have to rise to periscope depth and push up a telescopic antenna above sea level. Submarines as well use floating towed wire antennas, which allow reception down to 100 m below sea level. Metallic antennas are easy to detect and are vulnerable, but in peacetime most of the communication is handled via HF, VHF and UHF because of speed of transmission.
Sound is propagating in water very well and therefore is used for acoustic detecting system for submarines and even for acoustic communication systems. The submarine may remain submerged all the time and receive information from fixed near-bottom transmitters in a distance up to 30 km. Longer distances give problems, due to the comparably slow acoustic waves and the strong absorption of sound.
Many efforts to provide communication with submarines were embarked and became reality in several projects:
1948: Pobeda system, VLF transmitter of 1000 kW, VLF and HF range 6000 km.
1956: Superfast HF channel to SMS, protection against detection and RDF.
1969: Adoption of VLF/HF automated communication lines, MW communication center, upgraded VLF transmitters for reception to a depth of 30 m and sessionless communication.
1985: Glubina program with MW transmitter at Zeus facility (NF), 5000 kW VLF station at the DM-8 facility and a 1000 kW VLF transmitter at the 1500 DM facility.
1995: Glubina-1 program with 2 MW VLF transmitter at the DM-10 facility (PF), 500 kW VLF transmitter at Zeus facility (NF), 5MW MW station in the Far East, experimental seismic transmission center for the NF, trailing floating emergency information device for submarines submerged to 400 m and others.
1993: Experiments with ELF at Zeus facility (NF) with signals recorded in a distance of up to 1500 km and down to 300 m in the sea.
2000: Most of the Glubina-2 program was approved and funded, the nearest to completion are channels of laser, seismic and ELF.
According to the functionality, three types of ACS are known: ACS of the Forces, ACS of combat facilities and ACS of special purposes.
There are five levels of ACS of the Forces: strategic, strategic and operational, operational, operational and tactical, tactical.
At strategic level a well protected, stationary ACS is on duty at the base of Navy's Main Staff.
At strategic and operational level ACS is deployed, that represents the common naval control body at specific Marine Theater of Military Operations (MTMO).
At operational level stationary ACS are deployed at the command stations of the Navy's Air Force, Naval Rear Services, some Flotillas and Operational Ship Organization (OSO). These ACS are stationary apart from OSO ACS which is located at the flagship.
At operational and tactical level in some fleets OSO ACS are created. Examples can be the Group of Miscellaneous Forces (GMF) or Operative Squadrons (OPS). ACS of this level are based at a special control ship or on the flagship. ACS of Naval Bases (NBACS) are related to the same level.
At tactical level ACS are created for divisions, Tactical Ship Organizations (TSOACS), Tactical Groups (TGACS), Surface Ships (SSACS) and Submarines (SMACS). All other ACS are mobile and are deployed at the ships.
ACS of combat facilities are assumed to be classified as per six types of weaponry that is controlled by them: Attack Missile Weapon (AMWACS) aboard SMS, missile cruisers, divisions with cruise missiles, Torpedo Weapon (TWACS) installed in submarines, surface ships and torpedo boats, Artillery Weapon (AWACS) aboard surface ships, artillery boats, anti-aircraft defense and artillery units.
ACS of special purposes have been developed for Radio Electronic Warfare (REWACS), for Anti-Submarine Controlled Missile Weapon (ASCMWACS), for Anti-Aircraft Missile Systems (AMSACS).
ACS of special assignment are divided into eight types, namely for: communication subsystems, Shore Surveillance Systems (SSSACS), Radar Information Process Automated System (RIPAS), Sonar Information Process (SIPAS), Radio Technical Information (RTIAS), Underwater Situation Lightning (USLAS), Navigation, Hydrographical and Hydrometeorological Information (NHGGMPAS) and Ship Technical Facilities (TFACS).
These systems are intended for automation of control procedures of ship weaponry and technical facilities for the purpose of complete use of combat capabilities of the ship.
Around 1980 surface ships of the Russian Navy were equipped with several tens of CICS of 1st and 2nd generation. State trials of 3rd generation CICS Lesorub, made by RPA Mars, began in the meantime. Although it significantly improved the tactical and technical characteristics as well as the degree of automation, it could not reach full complexity in automation of combat operations. In further attempts towards a uniform system combat contours of anti-aircraft -, anti-submarine - and attack weapon control first were realized on the aircraft carrier HACC Admiral Kuznetsov and the guided missiles cruiser HMC Pyotr Veliky.
First ACS of the 4th generation and with it CICS Tron appeared. The first CICS for submarines was Tucha, which now was a centralized structure for Situation Lightning Contours, ballistic missiles and torpedos control as well as for C2. CICS structure now generally became centralized with independent subsystems, e.g. Alleya-2 for surface ships. The example of Alleya-2 indicates, that for ACS of tactical level own subsystems for information exchange can be made. The structure of such subsystems, as a rule, repeated the accepted control organization. In Alleya-2 the information exchange subsystem consisted of three subsystems: Morye, Aist-K and Lasur-MK.
Some systems, of which information was available, are briefly presented following. Technical specifications are not available, apart from some ridiculous statements like the total power consumption, the weight or the resolution of the displays.
is a CICS for tactical group ships with narrow aperture coded radio communication between up to 10 group members. Developed 1962 ... 1965 by „Morinformasistema-Agat„, OJSC concern (Moscow). It might well be, that upgraded versions of Morye still are in use today (2008).
CICS, solving the following tasks:
- acquisition, processing and storage of data about air -, surface - and subsurface situation
- display of conditions and operation of the ships weapon systems
- presentation of recommended procedures for combat use of weaponry, tactical ship operations, direct control in combat
- documentation of the situation
Highly integrated CICS for a wide range of tasks of submarines. Due to the different tasks of submarines their CICS have corresponding layouts.
The group of informational tasks receives information from all ship sources: sonar, non-acoustic sensors, navigation, radiolocation and radio reconnaissance, IPM and signal intelligence.
The group of tactical manoeuvering tasks include the latent forced crossing of anti-submarine forces effective area, the breaking of anti-submarine defense, the submarine avoidance and disengagement and the withdrawal from the survey band of surface ships. Omnibus at the same time will recommend parameters of manoeuvering and combat and allows the commander various methods of torpedo firing, mine standing or communication with other ships of the group.
The group of training tasks allows to perform the training of the crew that operate Omnibus.
This is another CICS for submarines. Seems to be more recent than Omnibus.
Trebovanye-M is a recent generation CICS for combat actions of surface ships of light and medium displacement. It automates all possible functions of combat control including ship's helicopter, safe pass with surface targets and joint navigation within the group of ships. The whole system has been developed on the basis of LAN Ethernet with 100 Mbs. Interconnection of the various software complexes within the ship's armament is via RS-232/RS-422 or special interfaces. The system provides the display of unprocessed or processed radar information and cartographical information in the C-57 intl. standard in any combination. Trebovanye-M is protected against any unauthorized use and incorrect actions.
The software is written in C++ language and the operational environment is a real time application QNX.
Manufacturer is RPF „Meridian„ (St. Petersburg).
Modern ACS are designed to provide the following:
- communication channels via satellite and radio from ELF up to UHF
- monitoring electromagnetic surroundings onboard
- automatic connection of any workstation to the communication channels
- processing and delivery of messages and signals to the addressees
- interface with the communication subcomplex that provides airborne vehicle control
Again it is not clear, which of the systems presented here still are in use today (2008). We may assume however, that many still are, but have been, at least partly, upgraded whenever possible. Information about new systems, e.g. for the last generation submarines, is not available.
Designed to establish communication between submarines, surface ships, aircrafts and coastal command posts of the Navy in telegraphy, telephony and facsimile on HF and VHF. 7 to 15 channels can operate simultaneously. The power consumption is impressive: 65 kW.
The successor system provides communication channels between 100 kHz up to 400 kHz for open traffic in the modes telegraphy, telephony and facsimile between surface ships and command posts as well as for homing ship- and ground based aircraft (Mayak-SV mode on MW). FSK with 125 or 200 Hz shift up to 100 Bd is possible as well. The statements regarding ELF reception with this system are inconsistent.
Manufacturer of R-780/R-782-5KE is FSUE „Neptun„.
Provides open duplex communications with coastal stations, coordinating ships and aviation in voice and telegraphy as well as Mayak-SV mode on MW and automatic data link with computer aided action information organization. The frequency range is 100 kHz to 400 Mhz.
BURAN-6E may contain up to 5 transmitters Fakel P-3, 8 receivers Skalyar-K1 and up to 6 VHF/UHF radio stations R-625 Pikhta, R-669, etc.
RUBEROID (RUBIN in export version) seems to be the most modern ACS which I found described. It provides reliable communications to surface ships, submarines, aircraft, spacecraft and terrestrial stations.
Channel-forming commutation and distribution systems, radio equipment, remote operation, documentation -, information - and control systems can be configured to suit all requirements. An independent GMDSS is part of RUBEROID as well.
Up to 10 duplex communication channels can be operated. Interestingly enough the number of operators is given as one. The time to set-up a communication channel is between 10 and 80 s, the time to change mode within a channel is "not more than 5 s".
Some of the units used for RUBEROID are
- workstation (no typenumber)
- communication terminal P-492
- control unit of channelizing equipment
- multifunctional digital switchboard
- switching equipment for radio comms with surface ships P-450
- UPS unit
It is worthwile to note the description of P-492:
„Operating principle is based on specially developed software that enables to automate the process of preparation, storage, processing, recording and registration of messages during radio traffic in discrete data link channels, to act as a telegraph key and to act as a Morse Code transmitter."
Manufacturer is RIO CJSC (St. Petersburg).
Not much information is available about R-785, which seems to provide all possibilities for communication with all sort of addressees. Reference is made to „cryptographic security„ of the equipment.
Up to 60 communication channels can be operated simultaneously.
Monitoring CIS Navy radio networks might bring up the question of how the equipment at "the other end" may look like. In most cases an identification of ships will not be possible, but at least some short descriptions of Navy radio equipment have been released in "Russia's Arms and Technologies Vol.XIII". I've tried to give the most important specifications and some pictures of what is available today (2008). The description is the one given by the publishers, date of production is nowhere mentioned. Quite often equipment is known with different type numbers, with only minor changes.