Russia’s jamming technology is leading the way
The Russian buildup of intelligence assets and tools of electronic warfare also includes the deployment of the Krasukha-4, an advanced electronic warfare system used to jam radar and aircraft. Its presence in Syria was reported by Sputnik News, the Russian state outlet, which claimed to have spotted the distinctive GPS signal jammer system in a video report on Russian jets at a Syrian airfield in Latakia. The system and its parabolas are visible at the 6-second mark in the video below.
Since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, a hodgepodge of jammers had arrived in Mesopotamia, both active and reactive, weak and powerful: Warlock Green, Warlock Red, Warlock Blue, ICE, MICE, SSVJ, MMBJ, Cottonwood, Jukebox, Symphony. Collectively they were now known as CREW, an awkward acronym within an acronym: counter radio-controlled IED electronic warfare.
As more military jammer flooded the war zone, the mess grew messier. For many months, the shortcomings in electronic warfare expertise had been evident among Army and Marine units. “We had all these boxes over there and people didn’t know how to use them,” said Rear Adm. Arch Macy, commander of the Naval Surface Warfare Center. “They’d turn them on, thinking they were protected when they weren’t.”
This was especially true in Baghdad, where the electromagnetic environment seemed to vary between neighborhoods, between seasons, between times of day. “No one realized,” the senior Pentagon official said, “how much tougher jamming was going to be in the ground plane” — the ground-air interface, where earth meets sky. The Army logistician added: “We didn’t scientifically map out the problem set, so we didn’t know the normal electronic noise of a taxi driver doing his thing, the doorbells, the garage door openers, the satellite communications. … You have to know the normal program of life.”
GPS jamming is nothing new – even the North Koreans have it – but this latest testing does look unusual. The lack of ground jamming could indicate that the device is airborne, but the FAA only concerns itself with airspace, so ground based jammers can’t be ruled out.
It’s also possible that the jamming is, in fact, just a testbed for some new anti-jamming technology under development and being flown overhead. With the ability to jam GPS getting easier and cheaper each day, the military is keen to develop new systems that would still allow aircraft, drones, and missiles to defeat jamming signals.