Therefore, the GRU radio intelligence leadership decided to use airborne reconnaissance aircraft for this purpose: it was already possible to intercept radio from 1000 meters above the surface, which was conducted in the VHF band in the microphone mode. And at the same time, the basic principle of any intelligence, “secrecy”, was not violated. (After all, in order to conduct such a radio interception in the mountains directly from the surface, it would be necessary to be in the range between correspondents of the VHF range, and this would most likely lead to the loss of any kind of secrecy. And as a result, we would have not only important information. misinformation prepared for us.)
But from a reconnaissance aircraft it was possible to successfully conduct this kind of radio reconnaissance: the aerial reconnaissance aircraft did not need to be in the very area between correspondents. It was possible to be at a distance, relatively far from correspondents, and at the same time successfully intercepting such “dialogs”.
I myself in the maneuverable group of radio reconnaissance from the Tashkent brigade OSNAZ from April to July 1986, flew in the Afghan sky 120 hours. The commander of the maneuverable group was Major Yury Vasilyevich Chernyshov. I, Lieutenant Smekalin, acted as deputy commander of the maneuverable group. This group also included Sergeant Tursunov. Major Vadim Potorochin often flew with us. It was the backbone of our group. From time to time other military personnel were involved in our flights, especially with knowledge of local Afghan languages. In the flights I worked with Urdu and English. (Urdu is the state language of Pakistan. Later it turned out: the most valuable information that we obtained in these flights was obtained in this language). Sergeant Tursunov and Major Potorochin worked with the English language. (In Pakistan, English is the second official language.)
We flew on two types of aircraft. The first was the IL-20 BRK PP (on-board reconnaissance complex - radio reconnaissance), created on the basis of the legendary IL-18. This IL-20 BRK RR flew behind us (our maneuverable group) from Tbilisi. In Tashkent, we boarded this board and flew to Afghanistan. During the flight, our IL-20 basically “ironed” the area of the Afghan-Pakistan border - the “Durand Line”, and after completing the mission, it would definitely return to the Tashkent airfield Tuzel. (This aircraft was forbidden to sit on the territory of Afghanistan in any cases: there were a lot of special secret equipment on board.) The flights on the IL-20 continued for at least 6-7 hours. The maximum flight duration we have on this board was 12 hours. (As I remember, it was 12 April 1986 of the year. In this way, we celebrated Cosmonautics Day in our own way.)
On the AN-26 DBK RR, which was part of the 50th OSAP (separate mixed aviation regiment) - the famous "fifty dollars", we flew exclusively from the territory of Afghanistan during our trip to the DRA in May-June 1986.
Today, after almost 30 years from those flights, it’s hard for me to say which of these aircraft was more important to me personally. I will say this: both of these aircraft were equally important to me. I will say another. The pilots of both aircraft were superprofessionals in their field. In any intelligence always take the best. Especially in aviation reconnaissance. The pilots of both aircraft noted the quality of impeccable aerobatics. The pilots of both aircraft had, in my opinion, automated piloting honed to perfection. Never in my 120 flight hours did I feel any interference, a shake in the Afghan sky that would prevent me from conducting radio interception talks on the air of Afghan spirits with my Pakistani curators. Never! But almost 95% of all our flights took place over the mountains, where the direction of ascending air flows changes every second.
Whatever they say today, but then in the 80-s in Afghanistan there was a real war. And we had no time to coordinate the crews. From the very first flight without any buildup, we went to joint intense combat work. I still remember the feeling of military partnership that I experienced during these flights. We all flew together on combat missions. And, as they say in the famous Soviet song: “The crew is one family!” Personally, I had a feeling that I had flown together with pilots of both aircraft for more than one year. It was the atmosphere of a real fighting brotherhood, based on mutual understanding, support and respect for the work performed by each crew member.
It was mutual respect and support that helped us 6 May 1986 of the year on the IL-20 BRK PP successfully get out from under the interception with the planned attack on our board from the two Pakistani F-6 Chinese fighters (similar to the Soviet MIG-19). I reported to the commander of the IL-20 that I discovered on the air talks of two Pakistani fighter pilots, that they were accompanying our board, that they intended to shoot him down somewhere in an hour and a half of flight, or right there if our board began to make any dramatic evolution . It was during the Second World War that the pilots conducted combat operations solely on the basis of eye contact with enemy aircraft. And the naked human eye sees in the air another plane maximum at a distance of 10 km, and then in the form of a point. On our IL-20, of course, there was no circular radar. There were no them on the Pakistani fighters. They flew in parallel with our board (somewhere in the distance - a side interval of 20 km.) But our Soviet aircraft were airborne by Pakistani ground locators (I heard their reports on the air to our pilots on our board). So, neither the commander of the IL-20, nor the second navigator, to whom I was the first to report the intended attack on our board, both did not throw cliché phrases like: "You have the imagination ... Do not go - we'll figure it out ourselves ..." and the like. On the contrary, there was only one question from the commander of the IL-20 BRK RR: "Your suggestions to get us out of this situation!" I suggested that the commander of our board smoothly, during 10 minutes, slow down from our cruising 650 km / h to 250. And the course and height do not change. He explained that the urgent he himself served as a locator in the Moscow air defense district, and I believe that Pakistani locators will “yawn” on our smooth release of speed. As a result, Pakistani fighters in these ten minutes will leave us forward somewhere by kilometers of 40-50, and they will not have enough fuel to get to our board again in the afterburner. (I repeat: airplanes of the MIG-19 type acted against us, which could only have enough fuel for one effective attack, and moreover from a relatively close distance.) The commander of the IL-20 decided to carry out the speed version I proposed. Everything turned out as I expected ...
Each pilot has his own, only his own type of piloting. About the pilot of the AN-26 BRD RD - Dmitry Shabanov, with whom we flew from the territory of Afghanistan, and Dmitry Shabanov was at that time the youngest commander of the AN-26 aircraft in the USSR Air Force, we can say that he was excellent at the pilotage. But youth is youth. And in Dmitry Shabanov's pilotage, the handwriting of a master beyond his age was also felt, and at the same time there was a valiant daring. I still remember the feeling when Dmitry Shabanov was taking off from the Kabul airfield that the plane was taking off quickly and abruptly. As if it was not an AN-26, but a fighter. It seemed to take off the candle. With Dmitry, I had reached an agreement that as soon as I discover an important network for me, I give him the command: “Network! In a circle! ”And the commander of the AN-26 BRK RR began to circle circles over the heads of the spirits who conducted communication on the air. Each lap is 20-25 minutes. And we “cut” the circles in order not to slip past the important network. I repent, I still do not know: what level of skill and endurance it was necessary for the commander of our plane to have in order to perform aerobatics over the mountains at the minimum acceptable speed, to keep the plane “on handles”. But Dmitry Shabanov, as they say, always in these situations "was on top." It was this type of combat cooperation that allowed me in the first days of June 1986 from aboard AN-26 BRK RR to intercept radio on the start of deliveries of radio-controlled Stinger MANPADS from Pakistan to Afghanistan. We also managed to identify the frequency of the “target illumination beam” for these MANPADS and the timing of the start of the use of these complexes against our aviation in Afghanistan - from the autumn of 1986.
In the first days of May 1986 from onboard the IL-20 BRK RR on the radio I intercepted the instructions of the Pakistan Air Defense Officer (the city of Quetta) with my locator on our aircraft. In his instructions, a Pakistani officer about our plane said that "... this plane is a plane of the Soviet Air Force, that it is a special plane - Radioawax". This is an indication of a Pakistani air defense officer and the subsequent 6 in May of an attempt by Pakistani fighters to bring down our IL-20 BRK RR - both of these facts served as the basis for a special check at the GRU headquarters in Moscow. The inspection began in May and ended in July 1986 with the arrest of the notorious traitor general Polyakov DF.
I’m not mistaken if I say that few of the Soviet officers at least once in their life have encountered any kind of “subjective” approach to the results of their service, or more simply, any kind of “inertness”. It happened with me. From August 1986, according to the results of my flights in the Afghan sky, the leadership of the TURKVO intelligence agency tried to convince me that I simply “invented” the whole situation with the Stinger MANPADS. And against the background of this, let's say, far from "friendly" attitude from the senior management about the results of the flights of our maneuverable group in the Afghan sky, in the middle of November 1986 I decided to turn to the Special Department of the KGB of the USSR TURKVO ...
And the reason for this appeal was far from trivial. It is very difficult today to learn from open sources the plans of the leadership of any country in the world for their upcoming visits. And in the middle of 80, it was very easy to find out from the newspapers in two or three weeks that the leader of one state or another was planning a visit to such and such a country. And like all Soviet people I read in Soviet newspapers that the leader of the USSR, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, would arrive in India at the end of November1986 in order to participate in an official visit to this country.
Let's say that counterintelligence agents are specialists who always have enough of their work. And so that my report on a possible attack on the plane of the Soviet leader while crossing the Afghan-Pakistan border during a flight from the USSR to India using the latest radio-controlled Stinger MANPADS did not seem to our counterintelligence agents to be a kind of "fantasy", in my report I had to provide very strong arguments. I had arguments. In a report in the Special Department of the KGB of the USSR Turko, I used maximum information on the information I obtained during all my 120 flight hours in Afghanistan. My report was taken into consideration and immediately sent to Moscow via special channels of communication.
In March, the 1987 officers of the USSR KGB (the predecessor of the Russian FSO) in Tashkent told 9 of the year that while the plane was traveling with the Soviet leader aboard from Tashkent to Delhi in November 1986, the route of this board was properly changed. During this conversation, I was greatly surprised by the fact that this change in the route of the lettered aircraft was carried out exclusively on the basis of my report.
So that today's skeptics may say that, they say, it was not necessary to save that lettered plane, I will say this: in 1986, Mikhail Gorbachev did not only hold the post of General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee. He was also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the USSR. And on the same board, the future head of the RF SVR, the future prime minister of Russia - Yevgeny Maksimovich Primakov flew through Afghanistan in November 1986 of the year.
Honor and glory to the reconnaissance groups of the maneuverable group of the Special Forces of the GRU, commanded by Major Sergeev E.G., who in their combat raid in January 1987 produced samples of Stinger MANPADS. The Stingers MANPADS obtained in this raid were genuine confirmation of the participation of American intelligence services in the Afghan events.
In Afghanistan, two types of Stinger MANPADS were used. Single-channel, sample 1981, with guidance solely based on an infrared homing head. Such samples were obtained by the group of Major Sergeev EG. And since the fall of 1986, in Afghanistan, they began to use the Stinger anti-aircraft missile systems of the year with a dual targeting system - a two-channel one. (It was for these complexes that the maneuverable group of aviation radio intelligence obtained information in June 1986.) These complexes were based on the command of the radio commands that the shooter of these complexes produced after the launch. At the final stage of the approach of the rocket to the intended target, the final guidance was made already by the infrared homing head. The probability of hitting such dual-channel air targets should have been significantly higher than that of single-channel Stinger MANPADS. It should have been, but did not take place ...
From the autumn of 1986 to the summer of 1987, about 100 rockets of radio-controlled Stinger MANPADS were made. And in the summer of 1987, the Americans were forced to insist on stopping the use of these radio-controlled complexes in Afghanistan. Because only one of the 100 launched radio missiles was able to hit the target. Why? In June, after receiving information about the frequency of the “target illumination beam” of radio-controlled Stinger MANPADS, I sent a report to the group of representatives of the General Staff of the USSR Armed Forces who were at that time in Kabul. In Moscow, on the basis of the received information on the frequency of the “target illumination beam”, a special algorithm for countering radio-controlled Stinger MANPADS was implemented on the sides of our aviation in Afghanistan. In the 1986 of the last century, a certain number of radio-controlled Stinger MANPADS from Afghanistan were transferred to Chechnya. (I believe that by that time the designated calendar was not over for the complexes.) But in Chechnya, the radio-controlled missiles of these complexes also flew past our sides.
The Military-Industrial Courier newspaper (No. 3 (569) from 28 in January 2015) was published in an open letter to the State Duma deputies addressed to the President of Russia - Vladimir V. V. with a proposal for a worthy award to intelligence officers who successfully worked on the MANPADS " Stinger "in Afghanistan. I would like to hope that on the basis of this letter, the pilots of our reconnaissance aircraft and members of our maneuverable radio reconnaissance group, as a result of whose actions in 1986, important information was obtained on radio-controlled Stinger MANPADS, they will receive long-deserved awards.