Electronic jamming weapons are becoming increasingly popular
Iran has deployed a new counter-drone weapon — a rifle-shaped GPS signal jammer device that the regime says can electronically separate a remotely piloted aircraft from its command pilot and even reprogram it to turn on its owner.
The complex functioning is based on creating powerful jamming at the fundamental radar frequencies and other radio-emitting sources. The new INS can now be used to monitor GPS and alert the operator that their GPS has either developed a problem or is being jammed. The new INS is also useful for some fast missiles that often lose their GPS signal as they maneuver. Another urgent chore for INS is to alert users that their GPS is being spoofed (sent a false signal that is luring the user away). Thus, even with the ability of anti-jamming tech to keep up with jammer technology, there is still a demand for a new INS.
ECCM may include being frequency agile and dodging the jamming signal or pointing the receive antenna away slightly from the jamming source. There are also many tricks that can be played with signal processing that will mitigate the effects of jamming. Of course, it would also be possible for NATO to jam the Russian surveillance radar, denying them of identification and positioning of NATO aircraft – but this would really ramp up the war of words with Vladimir Putin. We must also accept that the Krasukha-4 EW system is an essential part of the defence of Russian forces at the Latakia airfield in Syria and this must not be denied them.
Earlier this month, four anonymous officials told NBC News that Russia has also been regularly targeting smaller U.S. surveillance drones. One of those quoted said Russian operations were having a significant impact on U.S. capabilities. The sophisticated attacks were even successful against encrypted signals and anti-wifi jammer devices, the official said.
In Syria, the Russian military is bringing to bear the lessons learned from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which provided invaluable electronic warfare experience. Throughout the fighting in the east of the country, jammers have been used to disrupt Ukrainian communications and disable surveillance drones. Even Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe drones monitoring the area were affected, grounded by a combination of Russian conventional and electronic weapons.
Electronic attacks are politically more acceptable than conventional ones; knocking out a spy plane’s jamming systems does not carry the same risk as shooting it down with a missile. Moscow—alongside the other powers fighting in Syria—has been expanding its electronic footprint, gathering information on its own abilities and the responses of its adversaries. With the battlefields of Syria busier than ever, the war offers valuable testing ground for the weapons of tomorrow.