Russia is beginning to beat Ukraine in electronic warfare, analysts say
As Russia’s war in Ukraine drags on, electronic warfare techniques could give Russian forces an advantage, according to some intelligence analysts.
In the final phase of the war, which is now entering a sixth month of fighting, various observers have noted that Russian electronic warfare (EW) systems are playing a larger role.
The term EW refers to a set of hardware and software systems capable of jamming, intercepting, or locating hostile communications. In June, the Associated Press reported that these systems were increasingly used in eastern Ukraine, where shorter supply lines allowed Russian troops to bring the specialized EW equipment closer to the battlefield. Ukrainian officials said AP that GPS jamming of drone guidance systems poses a “fairly serious” threat to their effectiveness.
A new analysis published in spectruma news publication issued by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), also argues that while EW did not play a crucial role in the invasion, they are now helping tip the scales in Russia’s favour.
“Experts have long touted that Russia has some of the most experienced and well-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 that Russian forces would 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 final escalation and invasion began in February, the Russian EW had not appeared.”
However, Clark writes that now that Russian troops control more territory in Ukraine and are increasingly resorting to “siege” tactics around Ukrainian cities, EW are beginning to come into play. In one example, Russian troops were reportedly able to jam Ukrainian drones’ radar communications, preventing them from effectively identifying Russian artillery batteries. Meanwhile, interception techniques allow Russian forces to locate and engage Ukrainian artillery, proving their significant numerical advantage in terms of firepower.
In addition to disruptive activities, unofficial hacking efforts also played a role in the conflict, including a number of anti-Russian groups operating under the guise of Anonymous.