Friday, November 16, 2007

Follow on to the Russian Anti Missile Radar

Another interesting detail from the same Av Week article. "Russian officials say it can locate missile launch sites and predict trajectories by transmitting data to computing complexes near Moscow."
Wow. A multi million ruble system doesn't have the on site computing power to compute trajectories, launch points and impact points? In the year it was built (1985) or today? Russian anti ballistic missile defense relies upon the phone lines from Azerbaijan to Moscow staying up under nuclear attack? Is a system that vulnerable to enemy action even worth building?
Could it be that the Russians were incapable of providing the necessary on-site computer power back in 1985? Did the Russians only have one main frame computer in Moscow to serve the entire anti ballistic missile system?
By way of comparison, the US had a mobile anti artillery radar project in 1975 (ten years earlier) that detected and tracked artillery shells in flight, and computed launch and impact points all using a smallish 16 bit mini computer (AN/UYK-20). ICBM re entry vehicles move the same way as artillery shells; the trajectory computations are exactly the same for both objects. I programmed this beastie and the software could aim the phased array radars and do trajectory computation at the same time. The whole computer was the physical size of three modern desktops and was in the IBM PC class (4.77 Mhz 8088, 128K bytes ram) for computing power.
In short, an small mobile American system from 1975 could compute trajectories, and a larger stationary Russian system from 1985 could not.

1 comment:

Karen said...

This may not be inefficiency on the Russian's part; it could be strategic. Azarbijan and the surrounding neighborhood are not what Moscow would consider (now or in 1985) to be the most secrue area of the Empire. Also, Moscow likes keeping its best people nearby, i.e. In Moscow. They may have just not trusted Azarbijani technicians enought to trust them with the technology, or not have wanted to up-root their best tech guys and send them off to God-Knows-Where, the Caucauses. Of course, its very likely the Russians were just behind in technology at that point, but it may not have been the only reason.