Russia Will Struggle to Replace ‘Zoopark’ Radars Obliterated in Strikes: UK

The Russian military likely has a “limited number” of “Zoopark” radars left and may struggle to regenerate more of the counter-battery systems that have played a key role for both sides in the war, according to British intelligence.

Last week, Command of the Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine released a video of its forces destroying a Russian Zoopark-2 radar system near the Donetsk region. Zoopark systems are able to track the origin of enemy artillery in order to direct counter fire.

“After transmitting the coordinates of the placement of the counter-battery complex, one of the units of the Defense Forces was hit by fire,” the Ukrainian Armed Forces said of the strike.

Russia to Struggle to Replace 'Zoopark' Radars
This video grab from AFPTV footage shows an aerial view of destruction during fighting in the city of Bakhmut, Ukraine, on February 27, 2023. Russian forces are likely running low on counter-battery systems, says the British Ministry of Defense.

The U.K. Ministry of Defense assessed in its latest intelligence update on Friday that “Efforts by both sides to neutralise their opponent’s counter-battery radars have been a constant element of the conflict” since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

“These systems are relatively few in number but are a significant force multiplier,” British intelligence wrote. “They allow commanders to rapidly locate and strike enemy artillery.”

“However, because they have an active electromagnetic signature, they are vulnerable to being detected and destroyed,” the update continued. “Russia has lost at least six ZOOPARK-1M and likely only has a very limited number left in Ukraine.

“Regenerating counter-battery radar fleets is likely a key priority for both sides, but Russia will likely struggle because the systems rely on supplies of high-tech electronics which have been disrupted by sanctions.”

Russia’s economy originally showed some resilience against the long list of Western sanctions imposed at the start of the war, but the bans have limited the Kremlin’s ability to quickly regenerate its ever-decreasing military supply.

In February, the U.S. Department of Treasury announced new sanctions on 22 individuals and 83 entities specifically targeting “the metals and mining sector” in Russia. The additional effort “further isolates Russia from the international economy and hinders Russia’s ability to obtain the capital, materials, technology, and support that sustain its war against Ukraine, which has killed thousands and displaced millions of people,” read a release from the Treasury Department.

The Kremlin has been able to escape some of the grip of sanctions, thanks to a few of its allies. Iran is set to send additional Iranian-made Shahed-131 and -136 drones to Moscow after the two countries met this week, and Chinese-made “kamikaze” drones could reach the Russian defense ministry by next month.

There are two variations of the Zoopark radar systems used by the Russian military. The OE Data Integration Network (ODIN) describes the Zoopark-1M, which was originally developed for the Russian military in 1989, as a mobile artillery system that can detect mortar and howitzer gunfire sources, as well as tactical ballistic missiles.

The Zoopark-2 system, on the other hand, can detect mortars, cannon artillery, and rocket and tactical missile batteries, and was first introduced in 1999.

“The Zoopark-2 basically addressed accuracy issues with the Zoopark-1 via new software and hardware that make topographical surveying more effective,” Jordan Cohen, policy analyst at Cato Institute, previously told Newsweek via email.

While British intelligence reported on Friday that Ukraine had destroyed one of Russia’s Zoopark-1M systems last week, the Ukraine Armed Forces said on Twitter that it had destroyed a Zoopark-2.

Ukrainian forces have been using AN/TPQ-37 “Firefinder” radar systems provided by the U.S. for counter-battery attacks, a system fully developed in 1980, according to ODIN. The Kremlin claimed last week that its forces had destroyed three of the systems in a 24-hour span, roughly two days before Ukraine reported destroying a Zoopark-2.

Newsweek has reached out to the Russian defense ministry for comment.

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