Russian IADS Redux Part-6: Fundament-alists

Russian Military Districts
This map shows Russia’s current military districts. The Central Military District was the first to receive the Fundament-M air defence command and control system. Other military districts have since followed.

Part 6 of Armada’s ongoing series on Russia’s strategic integrated air defence system examined its identification friend or foe apparatus. This article looks at the IADS’ command and control capabilities.

Like many of the Command and Control (C2) processes used by the Russian military, the C2 capabilities of Russia’s strategic Integrated Air Defence System (IADS) are being overhauled. Roger McDermott, an expert on the Russian military at the Jamestown Foundation thinktank in Washington DC, has highlighted several new C2 systems entering service. These systems include the Fundament-M system which networks air defence sensors and effectors, providing battle management. Mr. McDermott notes that, as of 2020, Fundament-M had been deployed in Russia’s Central Military District (CMD). The CMD covers a huge part of central Russia stretching from the Arctic to Russia’s borders with Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Before the system’s introduction, the CMD was devoid of an automated air defence C2 system, unlike Russia’s other military districts.

Russian Aerospace Force units in the CMD, including ground-based air defence assets, are deployed under the command of the Central Military District’s 14th Air Force and Air Defence Army. This unit has two headquarters, one in Novosibirsk and the other in Samara, both in the southern part of the CMD. These facilities may each have responsibility for the eastern and western segments of the CMD’s vast airspace. Having two operational-level HQs provides redundancy should one be unserviceable or be destroyed during hostilities. These HQs are in turn connected to subordinate Aviation Guidance Points (AGPs). AGPs command the tactical battle directing the kinetic and electronic engagements of targets flagged by the operational headquarters.

Fundament-M consolidates imagery from ground-based air surveillance radars deployed within the Military District (MD). By consolidating this imagery, Fundament-M develops the Recognised Air Picture (RAP) of the military district’s airspace and air approaches. Open sources say that Fundament-M supplements this RAP with imagery from civilian air traffic control radars in the military district. Once threats are identified, the system can be used to task effectors. These effectors include Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM), Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA), fighters or electronic warfare assets.

Linking Outwards

Mr McDermott’s article says that Fundament-M links outwards to army and navy C2 systems used wholly or partially for air defence. For example, Fundament-M links downwards into the Barnaul-T C2 system Russia’s land forces use for tactical, deployed ground-based air defence command and control. Barnaul-T is used with medium-range, medium-altitude SAM systems like the 9K330 Tor (NATO reporting name SA-15 Gauntlet). Long-range, high-altitude SAM batteries like the S-400 (NATO reporting name SA-21 Growler) use the Polyana-D4M1 C2 system. Russian ground-based air defence assets deployed with the Russian Aerospace Force probably both use Barnaul-T and Polyana-D4M1 for similar purposes. It remains unknown what C2 system is used by the aerospace force’s fighter controllers to vector fighters towards their targets.

Military Districts

Incarnations of Fundament-M are being rolled out across Russia’s Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western Military Districts. These disparate systems most likely send their operational-level RAPs upwards to the armed forces’ National Defence Management Centre (NDMC). Based in Moscow, the MDMC provides strategic/operational control of Russia’s armed forces. Consolidating the RAP at this level would ease the strategic-level air defence of Russia in wartime.

Cyber Vulnerabilities

The advent of Fundament-M greatly improves air defence C2 at the operational level, and potentially at the strategic level too. Through networking these disparate systems deployed across the country’s military districts, commanders can build strategic, as well as operational level, RAPs. Usefully, networking Fundament-M outwards to subordinate, tactical air defence C2 systems will improve the management of engagements. However, one major potential vulnerability of a digitised C2 system like Fundament-M could be cyberattack. Although Russian engineers will have worked hard to ensure that the networks Fundament-M depends on are robust, inevitably weakly defended entry points could exist which could be exploited to insert malicious code.

Stay tuned for more analysis on Russia’s strategic air defence capabilities in the next instalment of our Russian IADS Redux series.

by Dr. Thomas Withington

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