Can Russian ‘Nebo-M’ Radar System Actually Detect US Stealth Aircraft?

The Russian Nebo-M has been touted as one of the most effective counter-stealth radars in the world – and it might be a significant threat to US stealth aircraft.

Russia’s Nebo-M counter-stealth radar is raising a few eyebrows in the defense community. Russia is trying to step up its military game after a few defeats…, and the Nebo-M counter-stealth radar is a prime example of this.

The radar has proven to be more effective than initially thought. It is capable of detecting stealth aircraft – and this could significantly decrease the advantages of deploying stealth aircraft near Russian territory.

Nebo-M: one of the most advanced Russia’s assets

Nebo-M Radar
Nebo-M Radar by Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. Licensed under CC by 4.0.

The Russian Nebo-M radar is a high-frequency radar system capable of detecting and tracking missiles and aircraft. The radar is designed to be deployed in a wide variety of terrain, including mountainous and urban areas. 


But, the most striking thing about this radar is that it can detect fifth-generation aircraft. So, technically, it could spot stealth aircraft such as the F-22, F-35, or the B-2 Bomber.

Radar Nebo-M
Radar Nebo-M by Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. Licensed under CC by 4.0.

If true, this would seriously threaten the USAF fleet and leave the US without the competitive advantage of attacking undetected.

Some experts believe that it may not be as effective as Russia claims since spotting a fifth-generation aircraft is not an easy task.


However, aircraft with stealth capability are not 100% undetectable. Their radar cross section is reduced, making them much more challenging to detect… But spotting a stealth aircraft is not impossible either.

Moreover, if stealth aircraft are in ”beast mode,” carrying a heavy payload, they would be easy prey for anti-aircraft systems.

Are fifth-generation aircraft vulnerable because of the Nebo-M radar?

RLM-D component of the Nebo M
RLM-D component of the Nebo M by Vitaly V. Kuzmin. Licensed under CC by 4.0.

The Nebo-M radar system is a valuable tool for Russia and it could help them gain some advantage.


The radar uses a combination of active and passive sensors to detect targets. These systems’ sensors are especially effective at detecting fifth-generation aircraft.

But, there’s no official report verifying the effectiveness of this radar in detecting the flights of US stealth aircraft.

In any case, it is still a risk for American aircraft, which, despite their technology, aren’t invulnerable and could be shot down by a system such as the S-400.


Of course, the Nebo-M radar system has a much better performance at detecting fourth-generation aircraft, and it was already deployed in Syria to detect aircraft such as the F-35 and F-22.

Today, it is used in Ukraine – and the Ukrainian Air Force has undoubtedly had tough days trying to withstand Russian attacks and has lost a significant number of aircraft in recent months. 

However, they have been able to sustain themselves on western aid… And they are still awaiting any U.S. assistance for their air force, such as F-16s.


Russia hasn’t released any information on how effective the Nebo-M is. So, probably some functionalities of this radar have been exaggerated to use as propaganda to deter the US from entering Russian territory.

The Nebo-M could be a game changer if it is truly capable of detecting fifth-generation aircraft

While this radar appears to be too good to be true, the U.S. Air Force should not be overconfident either.

Fifth-generation aircraft are not undestroyable, and even though Russian technology is several steps behind that of the U.S., they have pretty lethal weapons that could shoot down any aircraft worldwide.


Featured image credit: Nebo-M by Boevaya Mashina. Licensed under CC by 4.0.