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I have seen an article (sorry its Russian) claiming that low lying clouds have increased the distance of the radar reach from the normal 18 km till as far as 120 km. This allowed the military ship to be detected and sunk.

The source claims that the signal from the radar was reflected from the clouds to the water and vice versa. The clouds were very low, and the signal from this corridor between the water and the clouds had nowhere to go, hence the radar unexpectedly reached the target far beyond its usual range.

Is it physically possible? I know that short waves reflect from the ionosphere. But from the low lying clouds?

Pure physics please, this is not a political question.

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  • $\begingroup$ I would venture the guess that Ukraine has something they don't want to talk about. I don't buy that explanation... $\endgroup$
    – vidarlo
    Dec 14, 2022 at 21:01

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Yes, this seems possible. The water droplets in clouds certainly reflect radar pulses - this was discovered in the early use of military radar in World War II, and is now the principle behind weather radar. It is certainly feasible that in favourable conditions these reflections could significantly extend the range of radar detection of surface objects.

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    $\begingroup$ It's probably worth adding that at that sort of range, you might need multiple reflections? $\endgroup$ Dec 14, 2022 at 20:54
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Clouds? Probably not. Temperature inversion? Very possible. This is a well-known effect: atmospheric ducting.

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