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Beriev A-60 ('1A', '1A2') airborne laser lab

flateric

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Seems that A-60 feel quite well and got a new interesting and gorgeous hump. Second aircraft, 1A2, may be...
ABL program has Sokol-Echelon-RF designation. Sokol = falcon.

top two photos - (c) www.lesoff.gallery.ru
third (c) AviaForum.ru
 

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flateric

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spy balloons hunter now is switching to delicate spysats optics
 

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flateric said:
Seems that A-60 feel quite well and got a new interesting and gorgeous hump. Second aircraft, 1A2, may be...
Is Russia still developing an offshot of this aircraft?
 

flateric

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Yes. Actively.
 

Lauge

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flateric said:
ABL program has Sokol-Echelon-RF designation. Sokol = falcon.
Any word on what the purpose of this ABL program is? Same as the US one (shoot down missiles, aircraft, Santa Clause, whatever...), is it "just" a flying laboratory for e.g. testing laser dispersion at high altitude, or something else?

Kind regards,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg
 

flateric

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Lauge said:
Any word on what the purpose of this ABL program is?
it was several posts above:

flateric said:
spy balloons hunter now is switching to delicate spysats optics
 

Lauge

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flateric said:
Lauge said:
Any word on what the purpose of this ABL program is?
it was several posts above:

flateric said:
spy balloons hunter now is switching to delicate spysats optics
Thanks. I noticed the post, but I was unsure if this was a confirmed purpose of the program, or a "best guess based on available data"? I have no doubt that the flying laser would be capable of blinding passing spysats...sorry .."surveillance platforms", but I was curious as to whether other tasks might be contemplated. If it was originally intended to shoot down balloons, it might be able (with some modifications, and maybe a Duracell battery) to do the same to other flying objects..... ;)

Kind regards,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg
 

flateric

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purpose was confirmed officially last year AFAIR
frankly it's really hard to hunt for anything else while you shooting laser perfectly upwards (as 1A2 does)
there are no any extendable turrets judging from aircraft cutaway rendering
 

Lauge

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flateric said:
frankly it's really hard to hunt for anything else while you shooting laser perfectly upwards (as 1A2 does)
So the laser, as currently installed, is fixed in the airframe and cannot be pointed, except by maneuvering the entire aircraft? OK, that might do for blinding a passing spysat, but I agree it would be a bugger to try and hit a moving target that way :p

flateric said:
there are no any extendable turrets judging from aircraft cutaway rendering
Do you have said cutaway in a form that allows posting on the forum (please, please)?

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg
 

flateric

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first mention in news on 1A2 purposed targets - you can draw your own simple conclusions
http://lenta.ru/news/2010/08/19/laser/

I will try to post photo in the evening but expect weird quality
 

flateric

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Maiden flight in 1984. Dunno, really as I'm not an otaku with these things...you have stopped already by then? Not sure, really - otherwise it rises a question what the hell for M-17 Mystic was initially intended with its gun.

Update - last one was tracked over Soviet territory back in 1990
 

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These pictures was deleted from the site just a few hours after upload... ;)

That was made for reason. Many efforts were taken to do this. Please think of this naive spotter that decided to share his success while not understanding consequences that this would cause for him.


images deleted
 

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LowObservable said:
So who was flying balloons in the 1970s?
I've tried researching this issue for a number of years (not intensively), and it is a really perplexing one. Here's a summary of what I have put together:

-extensive US spy balloon programs in latter 1950s. There were really two phases to this. The first one involved hundreds of balloons, the second one involved only a few. They were not very successful. After that it was widely believed that the recon balloon program ended.

-there are a few declassified documents from around 1963-1964 indicating some CIA interest in balloon programs. At least one of the documents indicates that the plan was to build a standard weather balloon with a radiosonde but to include some kind of sigint receiver inside the electronics. This implies a highly deceptive electronics program where the electronics look like one thing, but do something else entirely.

-I once asked a former senior CIA science and technology official about spy balloons in the 1960s and he said he was unaware of any such program. He actually was confused by the question. Now maybe he was lying to me, or maybe this was a very small program and he either forgot about it or he knew nothing about it. (I find it easier to believe that he forgot than he did not know. If he was lying, he did an amazingly good job of it.)

-There is a photo from around 1967 or so of a large photographic camera being prepared for a balloon flight. This appeared in Skeptical Inquirer magazine about six years ago in an article about high-altitude balloons. I never got a good explanation of it. I'm not sure if I have a copy of the photo or not. It does not make much sense to put a really big camera on a balloon for testing purposes, so this remains an enigma.

-I have heard of some research in very high altitude "balloon trains" but do not remember the details.

-I know somebody who used to work for CIA. He said that when they found out about the Soviet laser aircraft and what it was supposed to do, they did not understand it. If I remember correctly, their response was "whose balloons do they want to shoot at? We don't have any!"

These data points don't connect very well. It seems that there were some 1960s-era CIA spy balloons. But there's no evidence the US side that these continued beyond the 1960s. All we really have is the development of Soviet equipment to shoot down balloons in the 1970s and 1980s. Now it is always possible that there were no balloons and the Soviet programs continued because some enterprising engineer was able to convince his superiors to fund the research. If there were balloons were the Soviets able to shoot any down? And if they shot them down, why didn't they display them to the world?
 

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Thanks, Blackstar...

Maybe what the Russians thought were CIA weather balloons were actually the Nazi flying saucers operating out of Antarctica.... ;D
 

flateric

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blackstar said:
These data points don't connect very well. It seems that there were some 1960s-era CIA spy balloons. But there's no evidence the US side that these continued beyond the 1960s. All we really have is the development of Soviet equipment to shoot down balloons in the 1970s and 1980s. Now it is always possible that there were no balloons and the Soviet programs continued because some enterprising engineer was able to convince his superiors to fund the research. If there were balloons were the Soviets able to shoot any down? And if they shot them down, why didn't they display them to the world?
from Balashikha PVO museum
1969 and 1973

I got to know museum curator...if you are interested, let me know.
 

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blackstar

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What do the Russian labels say?

It's entirely possible that American weather balloons ended up in Soviet territory.

My suspicion is that if the CIA did fly more spy balloons in the 1960s-1980s, they did this very rarely.

Now one possible reason to do this is to get the Russians to turn on their radars. The balloon floats over an area and then does something to make itself visible. The Russians turn on their radars and then the balloons record the signals. But how do the balloons transmit the signals back to the US?
 

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blackstar said:
But how do the balloons transmit the signals back to the US?
Interesting theory - not at all, perhaps? If the plan was to store the data and recover the payload (as would have been the case with earlier photo recon missions) it would definitely give the Soviets a good reason to attempt a shoot-down. Otherwise the considerable effort they appeared to expend on anti-balloon systems right up to the end of the Cold War would seem baffling in light of your research. Maybe the metal frame and foil triangles in the first photo lend further credence to this theory - a corner reflector to trip the Soviet air defence radars? Then again it could simply be a weather balloon used to establish winds aloft by radar tracking...

Certainly intriguing.
 

blackstar

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Trident said:
blackstar said:
But how do the balloons transmit the signals back to the US?
Interesting theory - not at all, perhaps? If the plan was to store the data and recover the payload (as would have been the case with earlier photo recon missions) it would definitely give the Soviets a good reason to attempt a shoot-down. Otherwise the considerable effort they appeared to expend on anti-balloon systems right up to the end of the Cold War would seem baffling in light of your research. Maybe the metal frame and foil triangles in the first photo lend further credence to this theory - a corner reflector to trip the Soviet air defence radars? Then again it could simply be a weather balloon used to establish winds aloft by radar tracking...

Certainly intriguing.
I don't think a corner reflector would really be necessary. Make the balloon payload relatively stealthy. Then, when it receives a radar signal, re-transmit the signal back (like a transponder) to make the payload suddenly appear big. That causes the ground radar to focus on the balloon, increasing signal strength and enabling better recording. After awhile, turn off the transmitter and the balloon becomes relatively stealthy again.

I would think that what is needed is some way to transmit the received data rather than simply store it. A major problem with the GENETRIX balloons in the 1950s was that they all fell inside the Soviet Union. If the balloon is not retrieved, all the data is lost.

Of course, the problems in the 1950s could have been avoided if the balloons had flown at much higher altitude (and they were not flown at higher altitude because the CIA did not want the Soviet Union to develop the capability to shoot down the U-2, which was scheduled to start flying soon).
 

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Well, since pictures are not pulled off yet.... :p

New pics: http://russianplanes.net/ST/Ilushin/A-60
 

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Atmospheric sampling is another possibility.
 

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Notice that the seal on the front of the plane shows the Hubble Space Telescope getting zapped by a lightning bolt.
 

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Hubble or one of the reportedly rather similar KH-11s?
 

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Trident said:
Hubble or one of the reportedly rather similar KH-11s?
Well, I'm sure that it's supposed to refer to the KH-11, but what they depict is Hubble--note, for instance, that it is not pointed down toward the Earth.
 

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Do I have this story right?


According to articles on the internet, in Russian, this aircraft was taken out of storage in 2003 and the laser research was re-started in 2005.

Based upon Russian sources, it is now possible to assemble a better history of this project. It was originally started in 1977 and used a modified IL-76(MD) aircraft designated A-60. The first aircraft was designated 1A and first took flight on August 19, 1981. The second aircraft, designated 1A2, did not fly until August 29, 1991.

The first aircraft began laser tests against airborne targets in 1984 and fired against high-altitude balloons at 30-40 kilometers altitude. The plane later was used to attack an airborne La-17 drone aircraft.

The net also contains a story of what happened to the first Russian airborne laser aircraft, the one destroyed by fire in the early 1980s. It turns out that it wasn’t a case of James Bond sneaking into a military installation late at night and using a satchel charge to take out a Soviet superweapon. Instead, it was a story that is all too Russian.

It turns out that the aircraft was being prepped for flight. Early one morning two technicians snuck out to the aircraft to siphon alcohol out of its de-icing system so that they could drink it. This is not exactly news—MiG pilot defector Viktor Belenchko discussed this practice in the 1980 book MiG Pilot. But while the men were in the plane they somehow started a fire. So they jumped out, closed the hatch, and ran away. When a fire crew finally showed up there was another comical episode as well: the firemen did not have permission to open the hatch on the secret aircraft so they could not get inside with their fire hoses. Unfortunately, the aircraft apparently exploded on the ground, killing one person. The aircraft was lost.


Is that correct?
 

flateric

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in common, yes
 

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http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1865/1

Hubble in the crosshairs
by Dwayne A. Day
Monday, June 13, 2011

Are the Russians planning on shooting down American spy satellites?

In the very early 1980s, CIA analysts at the agency’s headquarters outside of Washington received an odd bit of intelligence. According to a former analyst, a Russian who had emigrated to Israel had reported on a new aircraft that the Soviet Union was developing. It was a modified Il-76 transport aircraft equipped with a laser to shoot down American “spy balloons”.
 

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Oh those crafty fins. http://www.fap.fi/view_photo.php?id=4881
 

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flateric

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flanker said:
Oh those crafty fins. http://www.fap.fi/view_photo.php?id=4881
fap-fap-fap! lucky guy!
 

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Using the stamp sized picture shown in the June issue of AirInternational, I made a provisional sketch
of the A-60M laser equipped Il-76 variant. Apart from the heavily modified nose, that seems to have
an apperture on the upper side, the sponson is much elongated forward, a dorsal structure is added,
that may be for a coolinmg system, I think, and there seem to be additional air scoops beside this
dorsal structure.
 

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SOC

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Was the A-60M seen at Tagnarog?
 

flanker

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SOC said:
Was the A-60M seen at Tagnarog?
It is not being built yet as far as i know. They are busy working on A-50U and A-100.
 

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"Лазерный комплекс «Пересвет», о котором мир узнал в послании Владимира Путина Федеральному собранию, разместят на авиационных носителях. Об этом 28 декабря сообщил замминистра обороны Алексей Криворучко. «Мы также ведём работы по наращиванию мощности комплекса "Пересвет". В ближайшие годы предусматривается его размещение на авиационном носителе», – приводит слова замминистра ведомственная газета «Красная звезда». "
:rolleyes:

In short - Peresvetsystem, operationally deployed since that December, will be fitted onto airborne carriers, according to MoD viceminister Krivoruchko. More than possible that this is connected to A-60.
 
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