The 3S14 naval tactical missile systems with Caliber and Zircon missiles, widely advertised by the domestic media, are known to almost everyone. Hundreds of articles have been written about their merits and an incredible amount of video footage has been filmed. The overwhelming majority of the townsfolk have already formed a firm opinion that this is some kind of super-weapon, for the use of which it is enough to receive an order and press the red "Start" button, after which cruise missiles will overtake the enemy thousands of kilometers, regardless of where he is - on land or at sea. Readers who are more sophisticated in military affairs understand that not everything is as simple as it seems at first glance: the missiles must first be given accurate target designation for a successful attack. But with this, there are just difficulties ...
In the absence of long-range radar detection and guidance (AWACS) aircraft as a class in the naval aviation of the Navy, due in turn to the absence of full-fledged aircraft carriers, the problem of issuing coordinates for a missile strike from surface and submarine carriers is extremely acute. Shipborne radars, one way or another, run into restrictions on the radio horizon, which do not allow realizing the rather powerful energy potential of their antenna modules and ensuring the guidance of anti-ship missiles at distances of more than 40-50 km. There are Ka-31R type AWACS helicopters, but their capabilities are almost an order of magnitude inferior to AWACS aircraft, and the shortage of offshore platforms for their deployment in the foreseeable future will hardly be eliminated.
In the Soviet years, the problem of target designation was solved at a fundamentally different qualitative level - a satellite constellation of two types of spacecraft (SC) was deployed in Earth orbit, providing global maritime reconnaissance: passive radio-technical and active radar. The system of naval space reconnaissance and target designation (MKRTs), nicknamed the "Legend", during its service showed a fairly high efficiency, and for some time provided the General Staff (General Staff) of the Navy with its own critical intelligence information, allowing maximum use of the advantages of domestic supersonic anti-ship missiles and creating a permanent threat to the US AUG anywhere in the oceans.
With the failure of the Legend satellites in the mid-2000s, the Russian fleet relied mainly on coastal over-the-horizon radars, as well as on data received at the request of the General Staff of the Navy by the space assets of the GRU of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, which generally allowed (and most likely still allows then) to carry out the tasks of tracking a significant part of the transitions of the ship groupings of a potential enemy in neutral waters or at large distances from their own naval bases. Nevertheless, it is obvious that these are half measures, which incidentally lead to a general decrease in the effectiveness of military intelligence and the misappropriation of the resource of its spacecraft. Against this background, recent news about the imminent completion of the deployment of the new ICRC "Liana" brought a fair amount of optimism to the readership, to the point that some publications and individual experts considered the problems with target designation in the fleet to be resolved. In reality, everything is somewhat more complicated.
At the moment, five spacecraft of passive radio-technical reconnaissance "Lotos-S" and "Lotos-S1" are rotating in low near-earth orbit of the Earth. The size of the grouping is already sufficient to cover the entire World Ocean, to detect the operation of radar equipment and other radio equipment of enemy ships. However, back in the 80s, when analyzing the data obtained from the Legend, it was concluded that during the transitions the ships of the NATO countries, as a rule, used their PLCs in a limited mode or (at certain stages) did not use them at all. In this regard, the second component of the Liana becomes necessary - the Pion-NKS active radar reconnaissance satellites, of which there should be at least two. They are distinguished by the presence on board a full-fledged radar station capable of monitoring the situation at sea and on land. The active principle of detection makes it possible to detect targets that comply with the radio silence mode, and provides high accuracy in determining the coordinates, which is critical when using the latest hypersonic anti-ship missiles of the Zircon type.
But even if a full-fledged satellite constellation is formed, it is necessary to objectively assess the risks to its combat stability in the event of a military conflict with a technologically advanced enemy. It is known from open data that the ICRTs spacecraft are located in circular orbits with an impressive altitude of 800-900 km, which was apparently considered by the developers of the system (the work began back in 1993) as a way to protect satellites from anti-satellite weapons (PSO). However, the leading powers of the world, such as the United States and China, have made extremely serious progress in the development of the USAR team over the past decades. So, back in 2007, China successfully tested its own anti-satellite weapons: the FY-1C meteorological satellite of the Fengyun series, located in a polar orbit at an altitude of 865 km, was hit by a direct hit from an anti-satellite missile. Nothing is known for certain about the tests of the US PSO at such altitudes, but given the height of the defeat of the same SM-3 Block IIA anti-missile in 1500 km, the defeat of any ICRTs spacecraft by it can be estimated with a probability close to unity.
In addition to anti-satellite missiles, the threat also comes from spacecraft inspectors of foreign satellites, who, if necessary, can disable them. An example of such a device can be entirely considered one of the main hopes of the American military space - the X-37 Boeing spaceplane. It can operate in orbit for quite a long time, change the altitude within certain limits, launch additional equipment and, more importantly, return with the results back. The spaceplane is equipped with a cargo compartment and a manipulator, which theoretically gives it the ability not only to disrupt the performance of other people's satellites, but also to abduct them from orbit and return them to Earth. For the sake of fairness, it should be noted that due to the lack of constructive protection and self-defense capabilities on modern satellites, their vulnerability to existing and promising weapons is not only a problem of the ICRTs, but of all spacecraft in earth orbit without exception.
Summarizing what has been said, it is necessary to proceed from the fact that the Russian orbital grouping (including the MKRTs grouping) in the event of a large-scale military conflict will cease to exist within the first hour from the beginning of hostilities, and the data received from it will become hopelessly outdated in less than a day. To restore the operability of maritime space reconnaissance, it will be necessary to launch reserve spacecraft, which should be provided for by the corresponding plans of the General Staff of the Armed Forces and, most importantly, manufactured and fully ready for launch when necessary. In fact, there should be another full-fledged group in the reserve in the amount of at least 4 devices - two "Lotos-C1" and two "Pion-NKS". Otherwise, the fleet will be able to rely only on the limited capabilities of ship and aircraft radars, with all the ensuing consequences.