Electronic Weapons: May 5, 2002


On 24 April, the Ethiopian Ministry of Defense claimed that all three sophisticated Kolchuga passive radar detection stations bought from Ukraine in 2000 remained in their country and had not been sold to third countries. The 12 April issue of "Financial Times" reported that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma helped arrange a $100 million delivery of the Kolchuga systems to Iraq.

In order for the Kolchuga system to defend a territory effectively, three to four radars are needed to form one defense system complex. The Kolchuga was recently upgraded, so it now has the ability to accurately evaluate land targets at a distance of 600 kilometers and air targets to 800 kilometers. What makes the Kolchuga unique is its ability to detect stealth aircraft while masking its own location. 

Yuriy Ryabkin, director of the Donetsk-based Topaz state arms manufacturing company said that Ukraine had produced only four new Kolchugas, three of which were delivered to Ethiopia and one remaining at the disposal of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. 

However, the Ukrainian newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda reported that Topaz manufactured "approximately half a hundred Kolchugas" since 1988 but stopped in 1995 and that the Kolchuga-M was still being made at a Russian plant in Tambov. However, this newspaper has been actively sympathizing with President Leonid Kuchma for the last year and a half. 

At the 17 April 2000 SOFEX-2000 arms exhibition in Amman (Jordan), Ukrainian state arms-export company Valeriy Malev was approached by Iraqi front company representatives (set up by the Iraqi intelligence service) who wanted to buy four Kolchuga units for $100 million. In a taped 10 July 2000 conversation between Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Malev, Malev told Kuchma that Iraq approached Ukraine through an unnamed Jordanian intermediary. The Ukrainian arms peddler is on tape suggesting that the Kolchuga systems should be shipped to Iraq in KRAZ truck crates, then sending people to Iraq with forged passports to deploy the system and launch it. - Adam Geibel




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