As the Russian war in Ukraine continues, electronic warfare techniques could give Russian forces a head start, according to some intelligence analysts.
In the final phase of the war, now entering its sixth month of fighting, several observers have noted that Russian electronic warfare (EW) systems play a bigger role.
The EW designation refers to a range of hardware and software systems that can block, intercept, or locate enemy communications. In June, the Associated Press reported that these systems begins to be used more in eastern Ukraine, where shorter supply lines allowed Russian forces to move the specialized EW equipment closer to the battlefield. Ukrainian officials told AP that GPS failures of drone guidance systems posed a “pretty serious” threat to their effectiveness.
A new analysis published in Spectruma news publication produced by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) also states that while EW did not play a decisive role in the invasion, it is now helping to tip the scales in Russia’s favor.
“Experts have long touted Russia as one of the most experienced and best-equipped EW units in the world,” writes Bryan Clark, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Defense Concepts and Technology. Spectrum. “So in the early days of the February 24 invasion, analysts expected Russian forces to quickly gain control of the electromagnetic spectrum and then dominate it.
“But after nearly a decade of rehearsals in eastern Ukraine,” Clark continues, “when the latest escalation and invasion began in February, the Russian EW was a no-show.”
However, Clark writes, as Russian forces control more territory in Ukraine and increasingly resort to “siege tactics” around Ukrainian cities, EW is starting to play a role. In one example, Russian forces have reportedly been able to block radar communications from Ukrainian drones, preventing them from effectively identifying Russian artillery batteries. Meanwhile, interception techniques allow Russian forces to locate and target Ukrainian artillery, increasing their significant numerical advantage in terms of firepower.
In addition to jamming measures, unofficial hacking efforts have also played a role in the conflict, including a number of anti-Russian groups operating under the guise of Anonymous.