Transceiver cabin ground radio rangefinder P-35M
In 1978, after graduating from the Tambov Military Aviation Technical School, majoring in ground-based radars, I was sent to the training ground of the V. P. Chkalov Air Force Research Institute. It was a classic “point” - one of many in the system of the track measuring complex, built to conduct trajectory measurements during the testing of the new aviation technology and systems weapons. Now almost all of this territory, once alienated by the Ministry of Defense, is the property of sovereign Kazakhstan.
I was lucky. I got to serve as a senior technician at a low-altitude post, having received a reliable "old woman" - the P-35М2 Saturn-U radar of the Drainage class with the on-board number B-50454U and the new CW-11 radar altimeter PRN-XNUMX "Cone-A" "Top", but at the same time a crew of five soldiers and sergeants. By the way, we almost did not use the altimeter - the export version in tropical design constantly and seriously broke, and while the guarantee is not over, the army team could not repair it on its own.
On one of the spring days of 1979, the head of the department appeared in our position and warned that tomorrow there would be very important work - there will be three dozen cars in the air at the same time, and therefore any, even the most harmless, emergency situation with our “old woman” is fraught with great trouble. In the evening, according to the daily routine, the club of the central base should have played the film, so I notified the crew that I would need two volunteers - an operator and an electrician, throwing in jest that I would provide the cinema.
The only thing our radar could have sinned was the low sensitivity of receiving devices. True, we recently replaced all the klystrons with new ones, but it didn’t hinder them to tune them - the rapid spring offensive affected the fact that some of the station’s parameters periodically “ran up”.
After dinner, when I went up to the receiving and transmitting cabin, it was just beginning to get dark. So far, I have measured the sensitivity of six receivers, brought the generation zones back to normal, - beyond the threshold it was completely dark. Both sergeants sat in the operators' chairs, in an indicator machine, and as if they were racing to fill Belomor with a rather capacious cover from a selsyn sensor (we did not recognize the chic locators — we did not recognize other ashtrays). The main, additional and auxiliary ventilation faithfully drove the tobacco smokeman on the street.
"Operator" indicator of the circular review of the P-35M ground-based radio range finder. Photo by V.Vinogradov
“Well,” I said, “let's see why we missed a session at the club ... If the receivers work flawlessly, we will see how planes take off and land in Volgograd.” Siren, rotational speed - three turns, six turns, the transmitters are turned on, the angle of installation of the antenna mirrors is zero. On the dial gauge screens, clockwise, the buds of the azimuth-distance sweep began to bloom as usual. The “old woman” provided an overview of the space in the “cylinder” with a radius of 375 km and an altitude of 85 km. And since the sand dunes intensively gave off moisture accumulated over the winter, in the center of the screen, within a 58 radius, the rose of a “dead zone” blossomed rapidly, in which nothing could be overlooked.
So, the Volgograd airport (we only paid attention to it when it was necessary to evaluate the performance of the radar) was located relatively to the coordinates of 330, 250. A couple of planes there were really dangling, but another goal attracted attention - in the north-west, almost at the very edge of the screen - at a distance of 350 km. “Wow! Look at what range of "rowing" objects! "- I exclaimed. The mark was clear, which means that the signal reflected by the target is strong, which indicated the high quality of the tuning of the receiving system and the large effective target dispersion area.
However, the target disappeared on the next turn of the sweep. In any case, within a radius of 10 km from the previous mark a new one did not arise. It does not matter, this sometimes happens when the plane turns around and its position under a certain angle of observation contributes to the reflection of the radar beam to the side, not back. “Well, on the next turn it will surely come up!” - the operator commented on the situation after another indicator.
Desperate to establish contact with the control target - as big as a herd of elephants, I leaned back in the chair and out of the corner of my eye noticed that it did not disappear anywhere, but rushes towards me with the same course at breakneck speed and is very close - a little more than 100 km . Immediately the operator's voice rang out: “Comrade Lieutenant, the goal is in our area!” At the school, we were constantly taught to take priority over the goal that moves to the center of the screen. One of our teachers was a military adviser in Vietnam, where Americans widely used air-radar homing missiles.
However, our own flight experience also meant something. The speed of rotation of the radar antenna system - 6 revolutions per minute, that is, it makes a full turn in 10 seconds, is very convenient for calculating the speed of air objects. Usually during this time, the mark from the bomber was mixed in 2 km, and from the fighter in the afterburner flight mode - in 7 km. Our “elephant” flew 10 km in 72 seconds! In general, nothing unusual, quite man-made, almost the first cosmic speed. The target dived into the "dead zone" of the radar. Frankly, the sergeants did not make much of an impression.
"Nothing," I said, "now we will see where she will go in the east." However, the exit of the "elephant" from the funnel of the "dead zone" we did not wait. But instead, another one appeared on the same course and range. With the same speed, he overcame 350 km in 50 seconds and also hid somewhere over our heads. Behind him seemed the next, and yet, and more ... With enviable regularity, the targets flew to the center of the screen, all of which were clearly visible in the forward hemisphere and were not observed at all in the rear.
Scant messages about aircraft capable of flying at hypersonic speeds came to mind. When the number of super-speed "violators" came up to the second ten, I asked the sergeant: "Sasha, look outside, can you hear the sound of airplanes while overcoming the sound barrier?" Diesel generator roared ten meters nearby, but the clapping of the shock front usually even our indicator car shook on the pads. The sergeant drew the blackout curtain so that myriads of moths wouldn’t fly into the cabin and put his head in the doorway.
- Well, what's heard there? Already three "elephant" passed over us, the fourth is approaching!
- Yes, do not hear anything, Comrade Lieutenant, - came from behind the curtain, - only three stars fell.
“An interesting coincidence,” I thought, and added aloud: “Look, the fourth will collapse now!”
From behind the curtain a sergeant's face appeared pale in the light of the indicators. In a falling voice, he said:
“Yes, and the fourth one fell ...”
- Wow! And this is already interesting! Now look, in which direction they pour? Operator, give me the last coordinates of the star!
- Somewhere 303, 122! Included in our zone!
A few seconds later, the sky crossed out a meteorite, emerging from nowhere and going nowhere. Or rather, it was a light strip, like a trace from a tracer bullet, which occurred for a split second. From our position in the picture plane, it was observed drawn in kilometers in 30 aside, but for some reason from southwest to northeast with a slight decrease.
Reconstruction of the image on the indicator of the circular view (red is the corridor of the span of objects)
When I smoke, I find a slight trembling in my fingers. After some time, by targeting the operator, I get the opportunity to see the controlled stargazing a few more times.
- Well, eagles! You have a great opportunity to make a bunch of Demobling wishes - the aliens are still full of shooting stars in a cage, - I tell the sergeants. “For the time being, I myself will try to figure out how high they laid a corridor above us ...”
Since our altimeter sour a couple of months ago, I tried to determine the height roughly at a rangefinder. True, the error at the same time makes, as locators say, “plus or minus two tram stops”, but it is still better than nothing at all.
The fact is that the “shovel” radiation pattern on the P-35 radar consists of five narrow and one wide lobes, one above the other with a small overlap. Therefore, sequentially turning off the transmitters, but retaining the visibility of the target, it is theoretically possible to judge the air echelon of the target. The task turned out to be very difficult, since each star was noted on the screen only five times. But, having turned off all the lower channels, I noticed that at the ultimate range the target was observed by the third channel. In my opinion, this corresponded to the height 35 000-40 000 m.
In the meantime, the sergeants, in full of their wishes, in violation of all military regulations, led the sentry, who was bored nearby. In response to my surprised look, they begged: “Comrade Lieutenant, well, when in life a person sees so many UFOs!” A soldier from a nearby branch also served on the radar, and he did not need to explain what speeds in the Air Force are considered normal.
Having admired a UFO on the screen and in the sky, rather, for the sake of jokes, I pressed the button of the system of recognition of the state identity of air objects. What was my surprise when the mark “your” was imprinted near the goal line!
Our “old woman” was equipped with a Silicon-2M interrogator, which has now been decommissioned. At that time, the system of state recognition was organized according to a special schedule, according to which two out of twelve numbered quartz filters were issued to the special units for a day and called the time of their change according to a sliding schedule. Thus, the "meteorites" clearly responded to requests through a filter defined for the second half of the day. But I had a pre-dinner filter on hand. Quickly placing it in the block, I again pressed the query button. The result was similar, with a very strong signal. How can you call these flying objects unidentified after that ?!
If we talk about the strength of the received signals, it should be noted that in normal mode, the radar operates in a three-centimeter range of radio waves (passive mode). However, on all P-35, an active response system is also provided. It is designed to increase the detection range of aircraft equipped with SOD-67 responder, and operates in the decimeter range. At the range with active responders, they rarely flew, but when this happened, they managed to escort the target to the edge of the screen. Meanwhile, our interrogator was always on. Thus, clear marks from our “slonikov” at the limit of the detection range, it seems, were ensured by the combined work of the receivers on centimeter and decimeter waves.
Having gathered in the indicator one, we began to argue with the sergeants: the object is visible at the same time in three ranges of electromagnetic waves, in two radio and optical, it means that it really exists. The speed of movement is not prohibitive, but quite accessible to humanity, although the hypothesis of hundreds of man-made vehicles during one night is too much! This will not pull any economy. If an object glows in the night sky, it will either ionize layers of air around itself or emit a stream of gases, but why do we see it on the radar only in the forehead? And then, if through the channels of state recognition in both versions - “your own”, then the object is thinking?
I suggested: “What if a certain cosmic body, entering the dense layers of the atmosphere, rotates with an angular frequency that coincides with the reference frequency of our interrogator or with a multiple of the harmonics of its spectrum? Then at least bring the entire box with code filters here, we will get a positive response to all 12 requests. ” It is said that the Americans in Vietnam had on such planes such stations jamming the state recognition system. True, our Vietnamese rice, too, didn’t bite and quickly refined the equipment with a system of “false codes”, which behaved the opposite in such situations - they didn’t respond, and the “alien” continued to respond as “their own”.
And here is the same button "LC"! Having launched “false codes”, I did not detect any reaction on the screen. This could indicate one of two things: either the goal deliberately defies provocation, or my LC system is not working. In peacetime, I never used it, I didn’t control it when servicing the equipment, so I didn’t evaluate system performance in real conditions and I cannot judge its effectiveness and reliability.
Transceiver cabin ground radio altimeter PRV-11, which let us down that night
In short, the situation developed in such a way that it was fit to report on what was happening to the commander of the unit and request that the trajectory measurements and a single time be collected on alert. This could be done on command, notifying for the start of the duty officer on the part. Half an hour later, he went up to our indicator car, looked at the indicator, shooed the sentry who was wandering around the position, and flatly refused to report to the commander: "If you want, call him yourself." Since my personal relationship with the commander left much to be desired, I did not follow the advice of the duty officer.
Understanding that I would never see anything like this again, I slightly doubted whether to turn on the recording camera (the stand with RFK-5 was mounted on the operator display of the circular view). And although, in the depths of my soul, I have already decided that I will not do this, I rather made myself complacent to see that the calendar was set to yesterday's date, the clock shows the first hour of the night, and the cassette is full - 60 meters of film would be enough for 8 hours of shooting.
Perhaps my decision was wrong, but, knowing the official point of view of the command on UFO problems, I did not tempt fate. Being in the role of a character from the “Elusive Avengers”, played by Savely Kramarov, and constantly telling how “the dead with braids stand along the road ...” I was impressed. I did not forbid the sergeants to share their impressions with anyone about what they saw, but no rumors were heard from the central base. Some time later, I told some friends about the events of that night, but they seemed to quickly forget this historybecause this topic has never surfaced in our conversations.
The morning the responsible work took place. The promised three dozen targets were moving in the air, moving at usual speeds. Both sergeants "with the eyes of a rabid herring" from lack of sleep continually mumbled the coordinates of aircraft and helicopters for several hours. Our "old woman" worked perfectly.
A year later, we received an order from the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, demanding to register any abnormal phenomena. Following this, my fellow soldiers at optical stations completely officially engaged in astronomical observations. To the question: "Who are we looking at?" - they answered: "We remove plates." A few years later, quite by chance I happened to get acquainted with a copy of their report on this work. Frankly, even to compare what I saw with my own eyes that night on my radar station and what my colleagues saw was impossible.
PS With one of my former sergeants, we throw in short letters. Other witnesses of those events can hardly be found. This year I was again on a business trip in those parts. Not at all hoping to clarify the unanswered questions, he made inquiries regarding the date of the event of interest to me. The “not killed” reference point was that very responsible work. It is said that one of the first persons who oversaw the tests answered the question without looking in the notebook - May 11 of the year 1979.