"We'll release the nonlinear junction detector of the new generation this year"
STT-GROUP is among the leading Russian high-tech companies, providing comlex and integrated security, including the engineering of protection and detection equipment. For example, the company's sensing equipment for radio-controlled explosive devices on the basis of nonlinear junction detectors is considered to be one of the best in the world. Mr. Vladimir Tkach, Chairman of the Board of Directors of STT Group, answered the questions of the Arms journal correspondent.
What are in your opinion the major results of the past year (2010) in the activity of STT Group?
First of all, I would like to mention a successful accomplishment of two experimental designing and research projects for the Russian security agencies.
It is significant that the projects were a logic development of our initiative internal works that we were conducting for 3-5 years.
We believe this indicates the following features of our Enterprise:
Our well-established staff was able to preserve the understanding of tactical missions of the agencies.
The Company management was wise enough not use up the earnings but spend them on the development of the Company.
How did the basic production and financial rates of the group of companies change compared to the 2009 level?
You have to remember that 2010 and 2009 were characterized by signs of the crisis: the decrease in our business sales and the shrinking volume of the State Defence Order.
Moreover, if in 2009 we were forced to tighten our belts, in 2010, however, we reached the pre-crisis delivery levels and that was largely due to our export possibilities.
Nearly all Russian law enforcement bodies order your output and developments. What is their share of your output sold?
Up to 70% of our supplies go to law enforcement agencies of Russia.
What is the progress in your cooperation with Russian law enforcement agencies? How do you estimate its dynamics for the past years?
On the whole, there has been positive dynamics, especially for the last two years. The only thing that overshadows this cooperation is the customer's unrestrained desire for having "everything done yesterday". For example, this is the reason for our tendency to spend only a year and a half on research and development works. Yes, we were able to accomplish the task, designing the prototype model of the item (the early warning radar set to detect improvised bombs) that has no equals in the world, but now we are forced to finish it off at our own expense.
For truth's sake I have to say that It is not the fault of the staff and the managers. We see the reason for this in the zeal manifested by high rank officials willing to reduce time limits and "save" money. Thus, the time limits of the above mentioned experimental development shrivelled from three to one and a half years and its budget was halved. I wish somebody would explain to the officials that it is useless to expect any significant demographic results from a group of nine women leaving them for a month to work over the problem.
In connection with the recent events in Russia I cannot but ask this question. What do you think are the prospects of applying nonlinear location technologies that you are developing to counteract terrorism?
Prior to talking about the prospects let us discuss the results. Our EAGLE nonlinear junction detector has been serving faithfully to soldiers of the Internal Troops in North Caucasus since 2001. I remember in 2001-2002 it took only one EAGLE set to detect up to 20 improvised explosive devices for half a year. Last year the EAGLE set that was serving in the Caucasus since 2001 became an exhibit of honour of the Company's museum. You have to see it: it is cracked to bits. The battery was used up long ago, so soldiers taped a made one to the detector with an insulating to prologue its life. And this is quite costly.
We believe portable nonlinear junction detectors can and must be widely used for the preliminary examination of public places, control of important engineering structures, railways, and transport hubs on the whole.
What are the advantages of using sensing equipment for radio-controlled explosive devices on the basis of nonlinear junction detectors, for instance, in airports? We have already been using special scanners, radio-metal locators...
The recent tragedy in Domodedovo has once again proved that these inhuman monsters planning terrorist attacks are trained well enough not to make such mistakes as following stereotypes and they develop their routes to the place of explosion passing such demonstrative means of control as gates, scanners, etc.
All these doleful days after the tragedy the media was talking about the impregnable Ben Gurion International Airport and so called plain-clothes agents working in the crowd to detect suicidal terrorists.
It is SEVERAL YEARS AGO that our enterprise experimentally tested the use of secret portable short-range nonlinear and parametric detectors for improvised bombs.
There is only one thing left: to perfect the construction and design solution to meet tactical tasks and what is more important to have a contingent of plain-clothes agents (spies for short). Unfortunately, our heroic police forces patrolling transportation hubs are of little use due to both their organization and abilities. Most of our policemen believe their aim is to fleece guests from the near abroad.
The Airborne Forces of the Russian Army and the internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs are testing Eagle-3D, your facility for detecting electronics. What are the results? What is the opinion of the Engineering Services of the Airborne Forces?
The results are positive: there is an increase in the detection range, and a significant expansion of the detectable object line. The latter being the most important since a soldier is now able to distantly reveal press traps, trip-wire mines and others.
How interesting can such facilities be for foreign law enforcement bodies in their antiterrorist campaigns?
They are definitely in demand and already delivered to India, China, South Asian countries, and some Near East countries. Unfortunately, multiple and long-term contacts with the so called NATO partners make us think that they are motivated by merely educational reasons, to put it mildly.
Industrial espionage control is one of the priorities of a security service of any private or public company. Do you think it is possible to effectively prevent information leaks through different channels?
I cannot but admit that today there is no protection against unauthorized dictating machine recording. In the early 1990s we reached some very interesting results in this field. We were able to detect a dictating machine anywhere on a person from his neck to his toes if a person took a seat in our armchair. That was a very fine Italian armchair with wooden armrests, not a single wire stuck out of it. It was just perfect. We knew when a person started recording and we were even able to tell what kind of dictating machine he was using judging by the characteristic signals we were catching. Russian law-enforcement agencies became interested in this development We were triumphant. But the scientific and technological advance cancelled all our efforts, Tape recorders were almost shrinking in size, the magnetic moment also became smaller and now you can detect a dictating machine only if it is close to a sensor. The so called evidence criteria of modern recorders are so imperceptible that if even there are any devices for their detecting on the market, you'd better not believe their producers. Of course, it is possible to detect a dictating machine by, for instance, placing a gate with our nonlinear junction detector in the door way. But in this case we would have to ask a person to take out all his electronics. But you cannot say it to every guest. It is not like visiting the Fuhrer in his bunker, after all.
As for the rest channels, it is possible to stop the leak if the two requirements are met. First of all, to take adequate actions it is necessary to have a clear vision of the enemy whose attacks the company is going to repel. It is important to understand how strong your rival is and how much money he can spend on equipment. On the basis of this information you think over an optimal combination of counter-equipment and counter-measures. It may sound mad. But I can provide you with an example. Let’s assume that a company's security service has inspected a room for important negotiations searching for recording devices but failed to insure its protection for the several days prior to the negotiations. Next day a cleaner enters the room and nobody knows what he/she can leave there having agreed to do it for just some 1,500 rubles. And it will turn that all your money will be spent in vain.
What could be the most effective counter-measure?
We have got two proposals. The first one is simple: to build a special room, a so called room in a room. We will screen the room by soldering and install filters in the network input, telephone lines, acoustic and electromagnetic filters on ventilation systems, as well as vibration channels leading from the floor to prevent both overhearing with a stethoscope and receiving radiation from the room. Such a soldered tin with blade contact is a fully enclosed shield. Not a single transmitter brought in the room will be able to radiate anything, we will provide acoustic protection from the walls, the ceiling, and the floor. An almost sterile zone. But the room has two drawbacks. Firstly, there is still a possibility to make a record inside the room. But all right, we won't let anyone into the room. But there is another shortcoming. Such rooms are gold hammered into the walls. The price for such room is around 2.5-3 thousand dollars per m2 by floor area.
We can also offer a budget alternative: an intercom TF 012. It is not unique on the market, but ours was the first. It is a miniature device providing an acoustic disturbance level of 90 dB at a distance of one meter. It generates noise disturbance which make it impossible to decipher a recording of negotiations if such a recording was taken. At the same time the negotiators put on airman's headsets with microphones and have no difficulties in communication. Residual noise is audible but does not prevent from hearing your interlocutor. The device was several times tested, and by Russian law enforcement bodies, too. The General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev used its analogue during his trip to India to speak with his assistants and consultants, At that time, there was no special room in the Consulate. But frankly speaking, the engineers of the system were scolded for it for as long as it took them to develop it. Nobody thought it was that useful but everybody was irritated to put something on their heads.
The problem is still urgent, nevertheless there is sometimes a demand for our device. It costs nearly 2,000 dollars.
What is the experience of the group of companies in counteracting industrial espionage together with Russian customers?
Apart from the development of searching and protecting equipment, we have an experience of inspecting rooms in order to find technological channels of information leaks, including an international one. In Russia we are licensed to detect eavesdropping devices. Upon inspecting a room we offer protection measures considering what kind of information circulates in the room, confidential information, a state secret, etc. Sometimes it is sufficient to install an acoustic chamber, in other cases a special room is required. At the moment we are finishing a special protected room in one of the offices of the Novatek holding. And the third direction which is relatively new for us is information security in the IT sphere, personal data protection. In this field we are working with ROSNO Insurance company (Russia), the Prefecture's Informatisation Management of the Moscow Western Administrative District and other customers.
What are the prospects of the group of companies in the new year?
One of the main aims is that our new EAGLE type nonlinear junction detectors for detecting explosive devices should pass state tests and be accepted by the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Such a device has been accepted by the Russian Defence Ministry since 2005 and the internal Troops have been using it, but officially is has not been included into the supply inventory yet. When we pass state testings it will be included in the mandatory equipment table and we will receive a large amount of orders.
Secondly, our aim is to complete the Defence order. Our EAGLE was accepted back in 2005 but the purchases were relatively small. Finally, we got an order for the amount of locators equal to their annual production program.
And the third and one of the most important tasks is to produce a new generation of nonlinear junction detectors. We have already done the necessary groundwork and are presenting a new device at the IDEX. The next device is planned for the end of the year. And this is a completely new device having no equals on the foreign and Russian markets.
Published in "Defence technologies review ARMS" # 1(57).2011