SOURCE: SEKHAR JYOTHI/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Electronic warfare is inclusive of all actions in the entire electromagnetic spectrum to intercept , analyze, suppress or manipulate the spectrum usage of enemy as well as to protect the friendly forces’ use of the spectrum from same type of attack by an enemy. The electromagnetic spectrum includes both the visible and invisible spectrum ranges, measured in multiples of hertz of the spectrum. Electronic warfare has the capability to provide intelligence about enemy communication it has combat power like jamming, disruption, or deception of usage of spectrum ranges.
An example of effective electronic warfare system would be the Russian R-330Zh Zhitel jammer which can shut down GPS, satellite communications, and cellphone networks in the VHF and UHF bands within a radius of ten kilometers . In EW electronic attack by deception is an integral part in which a system substitutes its own signal for an expected radar or radio transmission. As an example : Russian forces induced propagana and misleading orders to troops and civilians during the 2014–2022 take over of eastern Ukraine by hijacking the local cellular network with the RB-341V Leer-3 system.
Having effective equipment alone is no guarantee that it will help to achieve the desired result or give the desired edge in the battle field or in the war as a whole. Russian electronic warfare equipment have drawn prasises from US war experts and any praise such as these are hard to come from a direct adversary. But in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukrain, Russian forces used electronic warfare to great effect. But the Russian implementation of EW also interfered with Russian operations, compounding the other problems its troops faced.
During the early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian electronic warfare equipments disrupted Ukraine’s air defense radars and communications links. Russian electronic warfare implementations severely disrupted Ukrainian S-300 and SA-11 surface-to-air-missile batteries north of Kyiv. The problem for Russian forces was that their electronic warfare also jammed their own communications and Russian forces had no methods of secured communications like single-channel ground and airborne radio system ( SINCGARS ) developed and used by NATO. This “electronic fratricide” became so acute that Russian troops had to stop disrupting Ukrainian communications which was one of the reasons which allowed Ukraine to fight back effectively and it was also the possible reason for which Russia had to loose many aircrafts to Uraininan ground defence systems in later stages of the war. Russian mobile air-defense units which were meant to keep up with the armored columns were hampered by poor communications. The end result was that Russia’s electronic offensive boomeranged.
The opposite of electronic attack is electronic support (ES), which is used to passively detect and analyze an opponent’s transmission which is essential for understanding the potential vulnerabilities of an adversary’s usage of spectrum. Therefore, most electronic warfare systems include ES capabilities that allow them to find and quickly locate potential jamming targets. Using electronic support capabilities most electronic warfare systems can also locate enemy radio and cellphone transmissions and then pass that information on to the artillery and airforce units so that it can be used to direct accurate artillery or missile fire.
As counter measures are almost always in demand to avoid any threa, new counter measures against interfering EW systems are also under development and one such development is to setup a laser communication between communicating equipment to eliminate the need of the electronic spectrum. Civilian transmissions mixed with military communication also prevents accurate geolocating of the military assets. Likewise, usage of inherently encrypted & severely frequency hopping transmissions make it very diffiult for interfering systems to interpret communicatins or even jam those. An example of such a system is single-channel ground and airborne radio system ( SINCGARS ) used by NATO.
Russian troops do not have or use a system like SINCGARS and are often dependent on cellphones or unencrypted radios for coordination of operation. This makes them susceptible to geolocation by and jamming. In this way, stabilization of the front lines also helps Ukraine’s EW efforts because it allows quick correlation of transmissions to locations. Ukraine’s defenders also exploited a weakness of the large and powerful Russian EW system. Using U.S.-supplied ES gear, Ukrainian troops have been able to detect transmissions from systems like the Leer-3 or Krasukha-4 and direct rocket, artillery, and drone counterattacks against the truck-borne Russian systems
It is pleasing to know that Indian defence has understood the importance of electronic warfare and has been doing research and development on electronic warfare which resulted into an effective EW system named Samyukta. Introduced in the year 2004 is a state-of-the-art mobile electronic warfare syste developed indigenously by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO. The integrated electronic warfare system is uniquely configured for frequencies for reconnaissance, direction finding, and position fixing, listing, prioritising and jamming adversaries’ emissions. Samyukta is built to ensure dominance over electro- magnetic spectrum by jamming enemy surveillance signals and voice and radar signals while ensuring its own signals are not jammed by the enemy.
Samyukta, is a behemoth of a electronic warfare project achieved jointly by DRDO, Bharat Electronics Ltd, Electronics Corporation of India Ltd and Corps of Signals of the Indian Army. Other partners in building Samyukta included CMC and Tata Power Company Ltd (TPCL).
For Indian defense there are other EW systems that have been and are in the process of development like KALI laser based electronic warfare system, Shakti electronic warfare system used by Indian Naval warships for interception, detection, classification, identification and jamming of conventional and modern Radars and there are more.
Electronic warfare is an indispensable part of modern warfare and if implemented effectively can really be a game changer in a war enabling the effective implementors to get a decisive edge in annihiliating the adversary.
Note:- All war and equipment/machinery related information given in this article are obtained from articles available in public domain published on various websites.
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