Soviet-Era “Legenda” Reconnaissance And Target Acquisition Satellite System

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Soviet-Era "Legenda" Reconnaissance And Target Acquisition Satellite System

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The Legenda, or the MKRC Legenda system, is a Soviet satellite targeting system mated to the SS-N-19 missile.

The Legenda operated between 1978 and 2006, both in the Soviet Union and Russian and is a system of global satellite that from space carry out naval reconnaissance and target designation for the Russian Navy forces.

The system made it possible to track and predict the tactical situation in the oceans and transmit information in real time to ships, submarines and ground posts, however, the short life of active satellites predetermined the episodicity of its operation.

It was primarily used to follow the movements of the British Navy during the Falkland islands conflict.

The Legenda system was developed to replace the outdated aviation marine radar target designation system – MRTS-1 Uspeh, which had been in service since 1965.

The terms of reference for the design of the new system were issued in 1960 to the Design Bureau No. 1.

The two types of artificial satellites that formed the basis of the system were developed by OKB-52 by 1965, and then by the Leningrad Design Bureau Arsenal following that.

Mstislav Keldysh took part in calculating the orbits and relative positions of satellites to cover the entire water area of ​​the world ocean. Keldysh is known as one of the main ideologists behind the Soviet space program.

In the period from 1970 to 1988, the USSR launched into space more than 30 reconnaissance satellites with low power nuclear power plants such as BES-5 Buk and Topaz for the system to operate.

The complex consisted of satellites of passive US-P and active US-A reconnaissance.

The US-P passive reconnaissance satellites were powered by solar panels, they were used as radio-technical reconnaissance equipment, and the coordinates of radio signal sources were calculated by them.

The US-A active reconnaissance satellites served as a surveillance radar capable of scanning the surface from an orbit of 270 km and therefore required a powerful source of energy, which was the Buk portable nuclear reactor.

As previously mentioned, the system proved to be very effective in monitoring the troops of Great Britain and Argentina during the Falkland War in 1982. Thanks to the satellites, the Soviet Navy General Staff accurately predicted the beginning of the landing on the islands.

The Legenda was used for targeting acquisition of 949 P-700 Granit, by the project 949A Oscar-class nuclear -powered cruise missile submarine Antey. Thanks to that it was possible to use the missiles and submarine to potentially strike targets much farther than the missiles themselves were initially capable of.

Soviet-Era "Legenda" Reconnaissance And Target Acquisition Satellite System

Project 949A Oscar-class Antey nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine. Click to see full-size image

Soviet-Era "Legenda" Reconnaissance And Target Acquisition Satellite System

P-700 Granit anti-ship cruise missile. Click to see full-size image

In 1988, a worldwide ban on the use of satellites with a nuclear power plant in low Earth orbits was adopted, as a result of which the construction and launch of US-A satellites were discontinued. However, the launches of US-P continued until 2006.

Soviet-Era "Legenda" Reconnaissance And Target Acquisition Satellite System

The US-P. Click to see full-size image

Soviet-Era "Legenda" Reconnaissance And Target Acquisition Satellite System

The US-A. Click to see full-size image

The Legenda was replaced by the reconnaissance complex of the Liana electronic intelligence satellite, consisting of Lotos-S passive radio intelligence satellites (two vehicles were launched) and the Pion-NKS active radar reconnaissance (also 2 devices).

Soviet-Era "Legenda" Reconnaissance And Target Acquisition Satellite System

The Lotos-S. Click to see full-size image

The launch of the Lotos-M can be seen on the video below:

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