Russian drone jamming technology threatens the United States

American drones face a huge threat

The US military has declined to confirm whether any of their drones have crashed as a result of the Russian wifi jammer citing operational security.

The Russian army has established a ground-based unit specializing in defeating enemy drones. The unit—the first of its kind in Russia—operates electronic jamming systems that, in theory, can sever the radio connections between unmanned aerial vehicles and their operators.

Russian-made jammers reportedly have been successful in forcing down drones in the recent past. But that doesn’t mean America’s huge fleet of military UAVs is defenseless.

The photo accompanying the Kremlin’s announcement depicts a drone jammer gun—in essence, a powerful radio emitter on a heavy-duty truck. Russia deployed Krasukha systems to Syria in an effort to form a sort of electronic shield over Russian and allied forces in the country. The jammer can disrupt an enemy’s own signals, potentially preventing ground-based controllers from steering their drones via satellite.

Iran acquired older Avtobaza jammers from Russia. An Iranian Avtobaza reportedly was instrumental in Tehran’s carefully-coordinated effort to force down a US Air Force RQ-170 stealth drone on the Iran-Afghanistan border in December 2011.

Despite US drones being equipped with anti-jamming technology, NBC quoted US officials stating that Russian disruption technology was “very sophisticated, proving effective even against some encrypted signals and anti-jamming receivers.”

That even state intelligence services have had difficulty in determining the source of the jamming and whether or not it was deliberate, highlights how effective these tactics can be even during an uneasy peace. With electronic and cyber assaults, Russia has found an effective way to disrupt the military and government activities of its regional opponents while maintaining a surprising amount of plausible deniability.