The History of “Uspeh,” the First Computerized On-board System. | History of Computing in Ukraine

The History of “Uspeh,” the First Computerized On-board System.

History has proven that competition is a very powerful driver of progress. If there had been no armament race between the USSR and the USA, we would probably have never seen a number of quite unique inventions. This is the story of the marine radar surveillance and targeting system "Uspeh” (English - “Success”). It was developed and put into practice by an outstanding design engineer of military systems, I.V. Kudryavtsev. The system "Uspeh," as part of the defense systems P-6 and P-35, became what some claim is the world's first precision location strike system: the long-range anti-ship weapon of the Soviet Navy.
EVM_Istoriya Uspeha


Ivan V. Kudryavtsev

The age of the "cold war" started with Churchill's  speech in Fulton in 1946 and Harry Truman’s doctrine where he formulated the direction of U.S. policy. The relationship between the USSR and the USA was completely changed by 1947. This rivalry was the impetus for many industries, including shipbuilding was one of the foremost. So in the 1950-60s, the ship radio-electronic systems, powered by universal digital computer technology, were replacing the bulky analog technology.

In the early postwar years, the emphasis was on improving pre-war weaponry. But ten years later, the focus changed completely because of the opportunities to use computer technology for military purposes.

In August 1956, the USSR Council of Ministers issued a decree on the development of anti-ship cruise missiles. As a result, there were two missiles created: P-6 and P-35. The first was intended for submarines and the second for surface ships. The rockets had variable trajectory. The high altitude of the rocket flight helped to track it by the ship’s radar system (SRS). The monitoring would continue until the detection of a target by self-homing missiles. A picture was then transferred by the missile to the ship and was used to select the target. After that, the rocket was sent to a lower altitude and continued to converge with the target in homing mode. The range of the missiles P-6 and P-35 reached 350 km, and for their effective use, there had to be a mobile system that could target with high accuracy.  This kind of equipment did not exist, so the development of such a system became a priority for the Soviet scientists.

The work on this project was moving very slowly for a number of reasons, until Ivan Kudryavtsev took charge. Kudryavtsev was a born leader and fighter, and feared no obstacles. He was a participant in the Soviet-Finnish military conflict in 1939. He lost a leg and had to use a prosthesis. Nevertheless, he graduated from the Moscow Air Force Academy (named after Zhukovskiy) with merit and obtained a major in Radar Direction Finding.

During World War II the radar experts were highly valued, and Kudryavtsev was appointed to the Ministry of Aviation Industry to head the Electronics Department. Later he was appointed to Omsk, where the aircraft industry was growing rapidly. In eight years (1949-1957) he was able to arrange and organize the work of the Design Bureau to develop radar equipment for the Tupolev aircrafts, which were produced in Omsk. Then he was appointed to Kyiv. Here Kudryavtsev was able to turn a weak organization into a powerful Secret Research Institute of Electronics, which had to design and manufacture a range of important electronic systems for the surface and submarine fleets of the Soviet Union. On his initiative, the institute (the first in the Soviet Union) launched the development of computerized shipboard electronic systems, which were installed into the shipboard computers. These were the first devices of their kind in Ukraine and the USSR.

The systems included all the necessary hardware and software to solve the problems of the fleet: obtaining information about the environmental conditions, control of the weapons (including missiles), navigation, etc. However, they started the project with the development of a precision location strike system.

The development of the marine precision location strike system (MPLTS) "Uspeh" was launched by a decree on July 21st, 1959. This decree provided for the development of the naval and air equipment for the aircraft Tu-95R. According to requirements, the destroyer had to be detected at a distance of 250-300 km. The major difference between the "Uspeh" system aircraft and the earlier air scouts was that it transmitted not only information about the type of a target, location, direction of movement and its place in the order of the battle ships, but the primary information as well. In other words, it communicated the radar "picture" formed by the main onboard radar. It could be observed both on the aircraft and on the firing ship. The range of the transmitted information had to be 350-400 km.

MPLTS "Uspeh" consisted of an onboard radar location system for surface target detection and the broadcast equipment for radar data. They were installed in the aircraft Tu-16RTS, Tu-95RTS (and later in the helicopters Ka-25RTS) and on ships. In the aircraft, the aviation radar system was installed to locate naval targets and to transmit the signal to the ships. The data was processed and the orders were communicated to the missile system. The original technical solutions were applied in the aviation radar-round view, in the system of information transmission to the receiving ships, in the coordinate linking system of the scout and missile carrier and in others. When flying at an altitude of 10-11 km, the detection range was 200 km from the destroyer and up to 350-400 km from the ship, and the broadcasting range was 350-400 km. The aircraft Tu-95RTS takeoff weight was 182 tons and the flying range was13,000 km, which with one refueling increased to 15,900 km. It could reach a speed up to 870-880 km / h at an altitude of 11.5-12 km. MPLTS "Uspeh," in combination with RC P-6 and P-35, became the world's first scout-attack system (SAS) of high-precision long-range anti-surface weapon of the Navy.

The success of this equipment was due to the comprehensive approach identified and put forward by Kudryavtsev. This required all equipment to be assembled, not on a ship or a submarine (where the parts were sent from different plants and research institutes), but instead put together into a single system that was to be debugged by developers at the Institute. Only then could it be moved to the operational location. The adjustment of the system was carried out in Kyiv; then the system was delivered to the Navy ready-made. For this purpose they created a unique ship simulator. Much later, this approach, when associated with the advent of computer technology and its capabilities, would be called systematic.

Contemporaries remember the strength of Kudryavtsev’s intuition in solving complex technical problems, turning seemingly fantastic ideas into real systems. Even before the final stage of the "Uspeh" project development, Kudryavtsev began to tackle the challenge of providing beyond-the-horizon vision. The solution of this problem would significantly expand the view scope of the radar systems. Academician Shchukin, one of the founders of the radar systems, considered this idea absurd. However, Kudryavtsev proved him wrong.

In the late 60s there was a closed Military Fair, where they introduced the “Uspeh” system. Kudryavtsev explained that the higher the aircraft (with radar installed), the greater the scope of vision and the more efficient the system. He was telling that to Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev, who came to visit the exhibition.

- Are you saying that the radar should be lifted as high as possible? - asked Khrushchev.
- Yes!
- So put it on a satellite!

Kudryavtsev was waiting for this response. So they set a new goal and the necessary funds were allocated.

I.V. Kudryavtsev was very good at selecting and training his assistants. Addressing the systematic issues associated with the mathematical software systems, he relied on V.Y. Lapiy, who started as an intern, and ultimately became the head engineer of the institute. Also he worked closely with V.N. Plotnikov, who was a head design engineer of the specialized computers that were used in those systems.

However, Kudryavtsev was not only famous for the creation of radar systems and for his research Institute "Quantum.” Working at the military industrial complex, Kudryavtsev realized that there is nothing more precious than a human life. Shortly before his death, Kudryavtsev gathered the chief design engineers together and asked them: "How long will we work to create weapons to kill people? Let's think about what we can do to help people!" This laid the foundation of the Medical Electronics Department at the Institute. Under his leadership they developed a laser knife, a device for crushing kidney stones, the USSR’s first laser scalpel and other instruments.

The secrecy of that time meant the name Ivan Vasilyevich Kudryavtsev was almost unknown in the Soviet Union and in Ukraine. Despite this secrecy, word about his reputation and work leaked out in the West. When he died in 1975, the British news agency BBC announced: "The major facilitator of the military industry has died."