According to recent publications in both American and Russian intelligence-oriented media, Russia has taken advantage of its military operation in Syria to test new weapons, including against US forces, and Russia’s electronic warfare has proven so highly effective that American analysts are scrambling to learn from it.
In his article in the Russian government’s official newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, journalist Anton Valagin has collected from American media the views of senior US Army officers and American experts on the subject.
“In northeastern Syria, we face unprecedented resistance on the radio as I’ve never seen anywhere else,” says US Colonel Brian Sullivan, whose unit has also operated in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Syria in the past.
In Syria in particular, the colonel recounts, the US military has faced “new challenges” and striven to turn such into “good training”, alluding to the capabilities of Russian equipment.
However, experts are not so optimistic. It should be noted that Russia’s modern means of electronic warfare are powerful, mobile and can be installed in armored vehicles and airplanes to attack targets hundreds of miles away.
“All of a sudden all of our equipment shuts off. You cannot ask for fire support or warn off an enemy attack because your radars are blocked and you see nothing. This may be more dangerous than a conventional weapon because there is no protection against it,” retired US Colonel Laurie Moe Buckhout told Foreign Policy magazine.
Daniel Goure, a national security expert at the Lexington Institute, added that Russian electronic warfare systems cannot only block communication channels but also change data: “The fact is they are really capable of distorting the operational image on the battlefield, which can lead to dire consequences,” he warned.
Among others, Russia is using its newLeer-3, Krasukha and Moskva electronic warfare systems in Syria. The first is capable of stifling cellular networks or send SMS with orders to surrender.
Krasukha chokes radars on the ground, in the air and in space. The Moskva system, in turn, operates passively – while it remains invisible to the enemy, it scans the waves by detecting the radiation from aircraft, cruise missiles and even guided munitions. The data collected is transmitted to other electronic warfare systems for electronic target suppression.