As Russia’s war in Ukraine drags on, electronic warfare techniques could give Russian forces an edge, some intelligence analysts say.
In the latest phase of the war, now entering a sixth month of combat, various observers have noted that Russian electronic warfare (EW) systems are playing a more prominent role.
The EW designation refers to a range of hardware and software systems that can jam, intercept or locate enemy communications. In June, the Associated press reported that these systems were beginning to be used more in eastern Ukraine, where shorter supply lines allowed Russian troops to bring specialized electronic warfare equipment closer to the battlefield. Ukrainian officials said PA that GPS jamming of drone guidance systems presented 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 claims that while EW did not play a decisive role in the invasion, it is now helping to tip the balance in favor of Russia .
“Experts have long touted Russia as having some of the most experienced and well-equipped electronic warfare units in the world,” writes Bryan Clark, director of the Center for Defense Concepts and Technologies at the Hudson Institute, for Spectrum. “Thus, in the early days of the February 24 invasion, analysts expected Russian forces to quickly take over, and then dominate, the electromagnetic spectrum.
“But after nearly a decade of rehearsals in eastern Ukraine,” Clark continues, “when the last escalation and invasion began in February, Russian EW was a no-show.”
However, writes Clark, now that Russian troops control more territory in Ukraine and increasingly resort to “siege tactics” around Ukrainian cities, EW is beginning to come into play. In one example, Russian troops could have jammed the radar communications of Ukrainian drones, preventing them from effectively identifying Russian artillery batteries. Meanwhile, interception techniques allow Russian forces to locate and target Ukrainian artillery, asserting their significant numerical advantage in terms of firepower.
In addition to the jamming measures, unofficial hacking efforts also played a role in the conflict, including a number of anti-Russian groups operating under the guise of Anonymous.