Electronic warfare against GPS. Problems of foreign guided weapons

Electronic warfare against GPS. Problems of foreign guided weapons
Ukrainian M142 MLRS fires. Photo of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

Foreign patrons supply the Kyiv regime with a variety of high-precision weapons equipped with guidance systems based on satellite navigation. This method of guidance raised understandable doubts, and now they have been confirmed. Attempts to use weapons with GPS receivers are met with opposition from Russian electronic warfare systems, as a result of which the effectiveness of advertised foreign models drops sharply.

Widely used technologies

The GPS global navigation system based on satellite constellation was put into operation in the early nineties. This system had obvious potential, and the Pentagon decided to equip all new types of weapons and equipment with satellite signal receivers. As a result, all modern US- or NATO-developed precision weapons use GPS as a primary or secondary guidance tool.

Since 2022, the United States and its partners have been actively supplying such weapons to the Kyiv regime. Ukrainian formations were helped to collect a fairly wide range of ammunition of different classes and types, which, as expected, should have influenced the course of hostilities. In addition, foreign partners and patrons of Kyiv had the opportunity to test their weapon in a full-scale conflict against a technically advanced army.

In the spring of 2022, it became known that several foreign countries were going to transfer M982 Excalibur 155 mm caliber guided artillery shells to Ukraine. Deliveries of such products began a few weeks after the first reports. The M982 projectile is equipped with satellite and inertial navigation devices, which, according to the manufacturer, give a CEP of no more than 4-5 m.

Unexploded Excalibur shell, October 2023. Photo Telegram / BMPD

Soon, in the summer of 2022, the first M142 HIMARS launchers were sent to Ukraine. Subsequently, their fleet was replenished, and standardized M270 MLRS products were also transferred. Along with these combat vehicles, adjustable missiles of the GMLRS family were supplied. They have a flight range of about 90 km and are equipped with a GPS-based guidance system, which should provide a CEP of no more than 8-10 m at any launch distance.

In the spring of 2023, the Kyiv regime received the first batch of controlled aviation JDAM series bombs. These products are built on the basis of free-falling ammunition and are equipped with a special control module. The latter includes a satellite signal receiver and an autopilot that controls the flight. At the beginning of 2024, it became known about the delivery of similar French-made AASM bombs. Somewhat similar to the JDAM is the GLSDB ammunition designed to be launched from the M142 and M270. It also relies on satellite navigation and is guided according to pre-entered coordinates.

Since 2022, foreign states have supplied Ukraine with numerous unmanned aerial vehicles of various classes and types. Some of them were guided munitions and used GPS to guide them to the target. Other UAVs use satellite signals to navigate and fly.

Predictable problems

The disadvantage of GPS and similar systems from the very beginning was considered to be low resistance to electronic countermeasures. A relatively weak signal from a satellite can be suppressed by interference or replaced with a false one. Negative expectations and forecasts of this kind were confirmed during the fighting.

A JDAM bomb under the wing of a Ukrainian MiG-29. Photo The Warzone

Since the first weeks or months of the Special Operation, Russian units have been using “anti-drone guns” of various models. Specialized portable jamming stations suppress GPS signals, and small UAVs lose the ability to navigate and further fly. Stationary stations with similar functions, capable of simultaneously covering an entire area, have also become widespread.

Back in 2022, reports began to arrive about the successful use of other electronic warfare systems against guided weapons of Ukrainian formations. At first the enemy and his backers did not admit this, but by the end of last year the situation had changed. Foreign militaries and the press began to raise the topic of Russian counteraction and the reduction in the effectiveness of high-precision weapons.

The first messages from abroad last year contained the most general formulations. It was argued that Russian electronic warfare does not allow the effective use of GMLRS, GLSDB, Excalibur, etc. projectiles. Problems arise with aircraft weapons and UAVs.

In mid-March, more precise information was presented at hearings in the US House of Representatives. One of the invited specialists pointed out that at the beginning of combat use in Ukraine, Excalibur shells showed an effectiveness of approx. 70%. When the Russian army began using electronic warfare against them, the effectiveness dropped to 6%.

A fragment of a downed GLSDB ammunition, February 2024. Photo Telegram / "Warrior 2nd Rank"

A few days ago, US Deputy Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Supply Bill LaPlante spoke at one of the public events. He stated that another American design encountered problems with interference “and other factors,” and as a result its effectiveness turned out to be low. The Deputy Minister did not name this sample, but from some of his words one can understand that this is the latest GLSDB missile.


In real combat conditions against a technically advanced enemy, even advanced and advertised foreign-made models did not perform well. In this regard, the United States began processes of further improvement of weapons aimed at countering electronic warfare and achieving high efficiency in combat use.

The first measure of this kind is to expand the functions of JDAM aerial bombs. On May 3, the US Air Force issued Scientific Applications and Research Associates Inc. (SARA) contract for the supply of passive radar subsystems HOJ (Homing-om GPS). The number of products ordered has not been announced, but their total cost exceeds $23,5 million.

SARA's HOJ subsystems are planned to be integrated into the JDAM suite. With their help, an air bomb will be able to find radio signal sources and aim at them. Such functions are primarily planned to be used to search and destroy electronic warfare stations.

HOJ subsystem. Photo by SARA

An official message from the Pentagon notes that HOJ devices, along with JDAM kits, could end up in Ukraine. In this case, Russian jamming stations are considered as targets for them. At the same time, as practice has shown, the United States itself needs such subsystems. It is unclear how serial products of the latest order will be distributed.

It is likely that ordering HOJ products will not be the only measure aimed at increasing noise immunity and maintaining the effectiveness of weapons. Perhaps the Pentagon will order other devices with similar functions and implement them in the design of other ammunition. It should also be expected that recent experience will be immediately taken into account in new weapons projects.

Proven by practice

At one time, a massive transition to satellite navigation in all major areas looked like a logical and promising step. The GPS system has made it possible to significantly increase the accuracy of coordinate determination and guidance. Distinguished by its convenience and simplicity, it was able to displace other methods of navigation and seriously influenced the development of guided weapons.

However, satellite navigation is not without its disadvantages, and it is now showing what they can lead to. It is obvious that the experience of current military operations will be taken into account by all leading countries and will seriously influence the development of guided weapons. Whether they will abandon systems like GPS or begin to look for ways to improve them, time will tell.
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  1. +7
    7 May 2024 04: 01
    The problem, dear author, is that shells and other ammunition are not only guided by GPS, and navigation by GPS is, let’s say, secondary for them... Therefore, by the way, the miracle of electronic warfare in the northwestern military district is not noticeable
    1. +2
      7 May 2024 21: 05
      How should it be noticed? When you shoot and don’t hit, you notice it, whether the enemy notices it is a big question. Well, since the developers themselves say that efficiency has decreased from 70% to 6%, then there is probably a reason for this.
      1. 0
        9 May 2024 04: 54
        Well, since the developers themselves say that efficiency has decreased from 70% to 6%

        Can you provide a link to such statements?
        1. 0
          11 May 2024 15: 16
          Have you tried reading the article under which you'll excuse the comments?
  2. +3
    7 May 2024 06: 50
    This means we need to increase the number of deceptions, simulating an electronic warfare signal, let them fuck around the fields
    1. +7
      7 May 2024 08: 46
      Actually, the electronic warfare antenna itself is by no means a complex and expensive product. Who said that it must be located right on the complex? For example, you can push it to the ground before use and drive it 500 meters away, stretching the cable. Or, in the light of new trends, let’s say you can drive along on a wheeled drone. Or even lifted in a small balloon. Yes, there are a lot of things you can come up with. After all, because of the presence of missiles against the radars, the radars themselves somehow did not disappear on this occasion?
      1. 0
        7 May 2024 12: 49
        There are now plenty of switches in this range. And the transmitter-repeater is a cheap thing. At least you can sow a whole field. The only question is the power supply - either pull the cables or place the batteries in place. Or you can, as in “serious” electronic warfare, create a flickering interference. But even children's toys contain more than just GPS? but also inertial navigation based on MEMS gyroscopes. The only question is a running error. There will be a combination - the basis is inertial, and the elimination of the incoming error from time to time from GPS is possible.
    2. -1
      7 May 2024 16: 13
      Quote: Makarov Roman
      This means we need to increase the number of deceptions, simulating an electronic warfare signal, let them fuck around the fields

      There is another way - to place the source of the electronic warfare signal in space, in geostationary orbit. This, by the way, will solve not only the problem of protection from missiles aimed at the source of interference, but will also make it difficult to recognize the interference and the working signal. Nowadays, receiving antennas directed upward and shielded in the lower hemisphere are already used for this.
      1. +1
        7 May 2024 23: 56
        receiving antennas directed upwards and shielded in the lower hemisphere
        I’d like to look at one like this in the 1 GHz range, and even stuffed into a projectile. Moreover, it needs to catch at least 5 satellites in different directions (and they are not in geostationary orbit, but “lower” and spin 4 times per cosmic day) there seem to be 2 of them. So form a zero in the direction of strong interference back and forth. But it is unrealistic if there are several interferences. And it’s not even worth dreaming about 32 narrow beams of radiation patterns with such a frequency, and even moving ones (a Boeing passenger one will be needed) - and still, according to the side lobes, the signal from 4 km is greater than from 10 km 20 watts.
        1. 0
          8 May 2024 00: 26
          Quote: dauria
          I’d like to look at one like this in the 1 GHz range, and even stuffed into a projectile.

          It’s unlikely to go into a projectile, but why not into a UAV or missile launcher? Taking into account digital signal processing m.b. and there is a chance of distinguishing the useful signal from the nearest interference coming from the ground. And there is always one. It turns out that a promising direction for countering electronic warfare is to highlight a more powerful signal from below and ignore it. In this case, the next round in this fight will begin with the creation of electronic warfare from above, and the power reaching the target as close as possible to the level of real GPS. M.b. will follow the path of their chain of low-orbit satellites.
        2. +1
          8 May 2024 10: 53
          Quote: dauria
          receiving antennas directed upwards and shielded in the lower hemisphere
          I would like to look at this in the 1 GHz range,

          I would love to see it myself, but this is the only one available for now.
          An improved receiver of the GLONASS and GPS systems of the “Kometa-M” type has been introduced. It contains an antenna with an eight-beam radiation pattern directed upward. The side lobes are reduced and the lower hemisphere is completely shielded. Such a GLONASS/GPS receiver is protected from signal suppression or substitution.

  3. +2
    7 May 2024 07: 43
    Ukrainian M142 MLRS fires. Photo of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

    Nice road, though. It's a pity that humanity fights instead of building :((

    As for electronic warfare, it’s a matter of time. Electronic warfare is inherently vulnerable - these are emitting stations, so it’s a matter of time before they become concerned with weapons specifically against electronic warfare, primarily those electronic warfare that works against satellite navigation. Technically, this is not very difficult to do; it can be implemented in cluster munitions, for example.
    It’s a matter of time before such anti-electronic warfare ammunition is included in a high-precision weapon salvo; this is an eternal struggle between armor and projectile.
    Therefore, you should not rely on the reb as an ideal weapon; it has its own vulnerabilities.
  4. +12
    7 May 2024 08: 19
    The disadvantages of electronic warfare stations are the constant emission of a radio signal and a long stay in position.
    This is reminiscent of Shrike and HARM anti-radar applications from the Vietnam era.
    Against Streik, the antenna was moved to the side and turned off.
    An emitter at a similar frequency was placed next to Kharm, and the main radar was briefly turned off and the location was changed.
    Then in Iraq (both companies) and in Yugoslavia in 1999, they began to use the method of briefly turning on the target search radar and immediately launching it.
    So on March 27.03.1999, 125, an F-117A call sign Vega-31 was shot down from the ancient S-XNUMX Neva air defense system.
    Serbian Colonel Zoltan Dani, commander of the 250th Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, allowed his crews to turn on active radars for no more than twenty seconds, after which they had to redeploy, even if they did not open fire.
    And here is the result:
    Dani installed mock-ups of air defense systems and decoy emitters taken from decommissioned MIGs to distract NATO anti-radar missiles.
    Thanks to decoys and constant redeployment, Zoltan's unit did not lose a single SAM, despite 23 HARM missiles fired at his division by NATO combat aircraft.
    1. +5
      7 May 2024 11: 25
      Quote: dragon772
      Thanks to decoys and constant redeployment, Zoltan's unit did not lose a single SAM, despite 23 HARM missiles fired at his division by NATO combat aircraft.

      However, they were unable to repel the NATO air attack. Unless they provided a “prestige goal” by shooting down a couple of unwary opponents. Twenty seconds is certainly not enough for a strong response.

      Here it makes more sense to go through the development of passive radars, in which the emitting antenna can be anything, even cell towers, and there are many, hundreds of emitters. And of course, actively counteract the enemy by shooting down attackers at distant approaches.
      1. 0
        7 May 2024 15: 11
        If this becomes widespread, the first thing they will do is destroy cellular communications.
        1. +1
          7 May 2024 19: 05
          Quote from solar
          If this becomes widespread, the first thing they will do is destroy cellular communications.

          Starlink's satellites will also work. There would be a radio signal, but catching its reflection would be a matter of technology. Not too simple, but quite doable. Back in the 90s, the Germans boasted of such receivers, mobile by the way, on a Gelek or Hamer roofing felt chassis. I mean, quite compact for the level of the 90s.
          1. 0
            7 May 2024 20: 51
            it's not so simple there. It is necessary not only to have a reflected signal, but also to have an original signal with known coordinates of the emitter.
      2. 0
        7 May 2024 17: 26
        If you remember that NATO aviation dominated, it is not surprising.
        What they did, they did.
        A passive radar is unlikely to help here. There is no air defense, no country, it turns out like this.
  5. 0
    7 May 2024 15: 49
    And here’s what Goebbels’ ideological descendant and self-proclaimed military expert Nico Lange writes about it:

    The precision weapons of the Germans and their Western partners operate using GPS and are therefore very accurate. “This is exactly where Russia starts electronic warfare,”

    says expert Lange.

    The Russians know how to jam GPS signals, i.e. disrupt the operation of the ammunition so “that it no longer knows where the target is and therefore hits somewhere else.” Another possibility is so-called “spoofing”. “What this means is that the ammunition thinks the target is somewhere else and then just flies in a different direction and misses the target.”
  6. 0
    8 May 2024 13: 13
    When the lights go out on the Outskirts, all these Western tricks won't help.
  7. 0
    9 May 2024 22: 24
    Quote: dragon772
    Dani installed mock-ups of air defense systems and decoy emitters,

    The correct approach (bait), tested back in 1988, I won’t say where)).
    Oh those were the times...
  8. 0
    16 May 2024 07: 48
    Let me remind the author that “you can make mistakes, but you cannot lie.”
    The current conflict, in my opinion, has debunked the myth about the best and indestructible electronic warfare system in the world, and this dictates the need for its development and modification. The most pressing problems are with short-range electronic warfare, which provides frontline protection from attack drones. Civilian anti-drone guns from China, supposedly used by us in the conflict from the very first days, have low effectiveness for a number of reasons, including as a result of enemy actions. The effectiveness of electronic warfare systems from our military-industrial complex can be assessed by the number of UAVs flying into Russian territory. The President voiced the problem with enemy UAVs, recognizing the problem is the first step in solving it, so it’s strange that the author is trying to “hide” the situation, it’s time to change the manual.