Reports by the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and war correspondents of Russian occupation forces served as a starting point for this investigation.
"Operation of two Zoopark-1 counter-battery radar systems was registered on the western outskirts of Horlivka," the press service of the Main Directorate of Intelligence reported in August 2016.
"Using the same beauties [several Zoopark-1radars - ed.], yesterday, on March 1, 2016, the 15th (Kalmius) Artillery Brigade of the Armed Forces of Novorossia covered three heavy batteries of the Ukrainian Army in Hirnyk area. <…> For those who know the hardware, such interesting pieces can be seen in Donetsk in a single day," military journalist "Mag," who works on the side of the Russian occupation forces, wrote in his blog on March 2, 2016.
Last week, InformNapalm volunteers identified another modern Russian mobile automated radio-monitoring station in the occupied Donbas - 1RL243 Rubicon.
"Let's take a closer look at one of the pictures from that investigation: the right side of the photo shows a rear of an MT-LB with a standard antenna positioned behind a cabin to prevent rotation of another special antenna," the authors wrote.
Note the two large-caliber guns hidden inside of the building: those are 152 mm MSTA-B howitzers with maximum firing range of 28.9 km.
The pictured part of the hardware is then compared to a photo of the Zoopark-1 counter-battery radar system under the same angle found on the Internet.
Radar Zoopark-1 (1L219M) installed in Tula Arms Museum
A mercenary from Saint Petersburg who posted the photo also reposted an article Zoopark and Aistenok will protect the tank army of the Western Military District dated Oct. 12, 2016 on his page on VK social media. The article states that " the 1st Tank Army of the Western Military District has received Zoopark and Aistenok ground artillery reconnaissance and fire control stations ".
A comrade of the gunman inadvertently helped with the identification of the equipment by leaving a comment: "Got made, motherf@ckers." With this he confirmed several facts: first, a Zoopark-1missile and artillery ground reconnaissance station was indeed captured in the photo next to his colleague; second, Russian tanks in the Donbas are protected by the Zoopark and Aistenok radar systems, and third, this equipment is operated by servicemen of the Western Military District of the Russian army.
Zoopark-1 (GRAU index 1L219M) is a radar reconnaissance and fire control system (counter-battery radar). It is used for: detecting enemy's firing positions (MLRS, artillery and mortar positions, launchers of tactical missiles, air defense systems, etc.); calculation of trajectories of projectiles and missiles; adjusting of friendly fire; and monitoring the airspace and control of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Performance capability of Zoopark-1:
- detection range for mortars: 13-17 km;
- detection range for artillery: 10-12 km;
- detection range for MLRS: 15-22 km;
- detection range for tactical missiles: 40-45 km.