Russia is using sophisticated electronic warfare systems in the the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region. In Ukraine, Russia’s extensive electronic warfare activities use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and ground systems to conduct electromagnetic reconnaissance and jamming against satellite, cellular and radio communication systems along with GPS spoofing and electronic warfare attacks against Ukrainian UAVs. It’s unmanned aerial vehicle carrying COMINT payloads monitors the cellphone signals of troops below, identifies their location and sends the coordinates to a headquarters, which launches an artillery strike against the unsuspecting troops.
During Recent ongoing Syrian conflict Russia has demonstrated many advanced weapons, one of which were advanced electronic warfare systems. “Among key advantages of domestic electronic warfare equipment compared to foreign analogues can be named its greater range, which is achieved thanks to the use of more powerful transmitters and more efficient antenna systems,” said Russian Electronic Warfare Forces commander Maj. Gen. Yury Lastochkin, as reported by TASS.
DoD defines electronic warfare as “military action involving the use of electromagnetic and directed energy to control the electromagnetic spectrum or to attack the enemy.” It consists of electronic attack, electronic protection and electronic warfare support. Electronic attack involves “the use of electromagnetic energy, directed energy, or antiradiation weapons to attack personnel, facilities, or equipment with the intent of degrading, neutralizing, or destroying enemy combat capability and is considered a form of fires,” according to DoD.
Russia has deployed Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) and SIGINT aircraft, such as the Il-20, an offshoot of the United States’ P-3 Orion, and the newest Tu-214R, ELINT and SIGINT collection and targeting aircraft.
Russian KRET—Concern Radio-Electronic Technologies—has developed a powerful new ground-based jamming system that is that could disable the command and control of long range UAVs around the world by jamming its crucial datalinks using complex signal. The new system is designed to be seamlessly integrated with air defense systems like the S-300V4 and S-400 to disrupt air operations.
According to a company source—who spoke to the Moscow-based TASS news agency— the system consists of multiple separate jamming modules that are capable of attacking a command and control system at extended ranges using complex digital signals. The system is also capable of attacking multiple types of systems simultaneously. “Multichannel stations that ensure simultaneous inhibition of various avionics systems have been created,” the Russian defense industry source told TASS.
The new Russian electronic warfare system is also designed to be highly resilient—featuring multiple dispersed nodes. “Their energy, frequency and intellectual resources are distributed in an optimal way. In addition, all the modules are equipped with individual defense sets because they are the prime targets for enemy’s attack,” KRET’s first deputy director general Igor Nasenkov told TASS.
Russian forces also combine electronic warfare and cyberwarfare to support their information operations campaign. Ukrainian forces deployed to the combat region have received text messages designed to undermine unit cohesion and troop morale. Nancy Snow, a professor of public diplomacy at the Kyoto University of Foreign Studies in Japan, described this as “pinpoint propaganda.”
U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander of U.S. European Command told the House Armed Services Committee: “They [Russians] have invested a lot in electronic warfare because they know we are a connected and precise force and they need to disconnect us to make us imprecise.” During his testimony, Breedlove admitted that the Pentagon had neglected electronic warfare during the past two decades—which has allowed the Kremlin to gain an advantage.
Recently, the Pentagon seems to be refocusing on electronic warfare. The vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is mulling the possibility of designating the electromagnetic spectrum as a warfighting domain—like the air, sea or land. “Spectrum operations are so important that we ought to look at declaring the electromagnetic spectrum a domain.”
Russian Krasukha-4 (or Belladonna) mobile electronic warfare (EW) unit.
Russia has also deployed its most modern electronic warfare system to Syria – theKrasukha-4 (or Belladonna) mobile electronic warfare (EW) unit. 1RL257 or Krasukha-4 is a Russian-made mobile electronic warfare system designed and manufactured by the Company Bryansk Electromechanical Plant (KRET). The Krasukha-4 is a broad-band multifunctional jamming system intended to neutralize Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) spy satellites such as Lacrosse/Onyx series, radar surveillance aircrafts (NATO E3 Sentry (AWACS), USAF RC135-Rivet Joint, RAF’s Sentinel R1 and Reaper drones. The system is also able to cause damage to the enemy’s EW (Electronic Warfare) systems, communications and radar-guided ordinance at ranges between 150 to 300 kilometers.
The Krasukha-4 system works by creating powerful jamming at the fundamental radar frequencies and other radio-emitting sources. Krasukha-4 is able to effectively shield objects on the ground against radio-locating surveillance satellites, ground-based radars, or aircraft-installed Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS), according the manufacturer. Interference caused by Krasukha-4 will render radio-controlled missile attacks ineffective. The system has been designed to counter attacks from enemies possessing advanced technologies.
Russia develops comprehensive Nation wide electronic warfare system for conventional war
Russia will place GPS jammers on 250,000 cellphone towers to reduce enemy cruise missile and drone accuracy in the event of large scale conventional war. The Russian military is buying up jamming devices which it plans to mount on cell phone towers. The idea behind it is simple — the Kremlin could switch on the jammers, known as Pole-21 to confuse American GPS guidance. Russia has about 250,000 cellular base stations.
Russia is betting on disrupting a missile’s receiver just enough to stop a direct hit. “The transmission of an elementary signal from a satellite lies at the foundation of all satellite navigation systems,” Russian military analyst Anton Lavrov told Izvestiya. “Therefore, the slightest deviation from the designated frequency even for milliseconds will result in a loss of accuracy.”
O.E. Watch, a monthly newsletter published by the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office, noted that the devices appear to be part of a larger push by Russia to prepare itself for the possibility of major conflict. These initiatives coincide with other efforts to prepare Russia for large-scale conventional warfare, such as massive ‘snap’ exercises, reformation of the reserve system, exercising wartime command and control relationships, and testing the nationalization of the industrial base in the event of a transition to a wartime footing,” O.E. Watch stated.
Russian Defense Ministry has adopted a system of jamming “Pole-21” protecting Russian strategic facilities from enemy cruise missiles, guided bombs and drones are used for navigation and targeting GPS satellite system, Glonass, Galileo and Beidou. Latest jammers developed by JSC “Scientific and Technical Center of electronic warfare” (STC EW) – is mounted on the cell tower and integrated with the transmit antennas station RFI P-340RP, combined into a single network, covering impervious to signal satellite navigation dome entire neighborhoods
All four satellite navigation systems, the signals of which the Pole-21 must combat, use closely spaced frequencies, which end up in the interval from 1176.45 to 1575.42 MHz. The fact that even a transmitter with an output of a total of 20 watts in order to jam the radio signals in this range in a radius of 80 kilometers attests to the latest Russian system’s capabilities to create an impenetrable jamming dome….
…At the same time, the system has one shortcoming. As is indicated in its description, “The fact that this complex creates jamming both for the enemy, who is using the GPS radio navigation system, and also for domestic consumers of this GPS radio navigation system and also for its Russian GLONASS equivalent”…
Russia is also looking at leveraging existing GSM cellular towers as a detection system for unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles and light aircraft.