Recently, the Russian means of electronic warfare have acquired the aura of some kind of super-weapon capable, in the opinion of ordinary people, to cause panic in a possible opponent only with its inclusion.
It all began with the Donald Cook, an American destroyer, described by practically all Russian media as flying over the front-line Su-24 bomber, during which the Russian plane allegedly used the latest Khibiny system. Its effect on the electronic devices of the ship caused almost panic, which led to the mass dismissal of sailors and officers from the Cook. Later on the Internet there was a photo of a supposedly commemorative coin (according to other sources - a medal), marking this historical flying around, and on the back of the product was written "Lesson of Peace."
Why did the Khibins eat Cook?
The story of “Donald Cook” had not time to subside, as 4 of August of this year blog defensenews.com published an article Electronic Warfare: What US Army Can Learn From Ukraine (“Electronic warfare: what lessons can the US army learn from the Ukrainian conflict”) by Joe Gould ( Joe Gould), where it is alleged that the Russian Armed Forces made a significant breakthrough in the field of not only the creation of electronic warfare, but also their use, which, according to the author, demonstrates the apparent lag in the issue of the US military.
We must not forget that one of the leading developers and manufacturers of Russian means of electronic warfare - the Concern of Radio-Electronic Technologies (KRET) is currently conducting an aggressive PR campaign that supports its products. Suffice it to recall that the headlines are heard more and more often in the media: “KRET presented a unique jammer for DRLO airplanes”, “The jamming complex reliably protects troops from enemy artillery fire” and the like.
Due to such popularity of electronic warfare, not only industry publications, but even social and political media report that the electronic countermeasures of Krasuha-2, Krasuha-4, Lever, Infauna are coming into service with the Russian army .. And to be honest, it is quite difficult for even a specialist to figure out this stream of names.
But how effective are the Russian means of electronic warfare, what are they and how is the EW organized? Let's try to answer these questions.
EW in priority
The fact that the military-political leadership of Russia pays close attention to the development of radio-electronic warfare means the following fact: as early as April 2009, the 15-I separate radio-electronic brigade (Supreme Main Command) appeared in the Armed Forces. It is noteworthy that according to some data - in addition to the 15 sample of EW in the RF Armed Forces there are only two brigades bearing the name of the Supreme Main Command (engineering and RCBZ), and according to other data - such a command of the Supreme Command is still the only one in the Russian army.
Currently previously based in the city of Novomoskovsk, Tula region, and received in accordance with the presidential decree in April 2009, the battle flag of the 15-I brigade moved to Tula. It should be noted that this connection is equipped with the most modern means of electronic warfare, including the currently remaining secret stations for the suppression of the Murmansk-BN communication lines and the Leer-3 aerodynamic abandoned interferer.
In addition to the brigade of the Supreme High Command since 2009, separate electronic warfare centers have been formed in each military district. True, most of them are currently reorganized into separate electronic warfare brigades. The exception is only the newly-formed EW center in Crimea, subordinate to the command of the Black Sea fleet.
In addition to brigades, in each district there are also separate battalions, for example, a separate EW battalion subordinate to the command of the Central Military District and based in the city of Engels, Saratov Region. It should be noted that, most likely, the task of such battalions is to cover especially important civilian and military facilities.
The crews and EW centers include strategic battalions equipped with the Murmansk regimes mentioned above, as well as tactical battalions with Infauna complexes based on armored personnel carriers, the Zhitel and R-330 jamming stations R-934. In addition to the two battalions in the brigades and centers, there are separate companies - one equipped with the so-called aircraft means, that is, the complexes "Krasuha-2" and "Krasuha-4", and the company with the above-mentioned Leer-3.
The recently created Aerospace Forces also receive modern electronic warfare equipment, in particular, such items as those installed on Su-34 front-line bombers and recently become almost legendary Khibiny systems, as well as Mi-8 helicopters equipped with stations "Lever arm". Also recently aviation The Russian Air Force fleet was replenished with a certain jammer based on the Il-18 - Il-22 “Logger” aircraft.
"Krasuha", "Murmansk" and other secrets
Until recently, the Krasuha-2 jamming station was the most secret in the entire arsenal of Russian EW facilities, although the palm of the championship in this nomination has now moved to the Murmansk-BN jamming station, which is supposedly able to damp more than two dozen frequencies on range up to five thousand kilometers. However, there is no reliable evidence that the newest complex has such characteristics.
Judging by the photographs of Murmansk available in open sources (several four-axle off-road trucks with multimeter towers), where, in addition to the main antennas, characteristic low-frequency stretch antennas are visible, it can be assumed that this complex is capable of jamming signals in the range from 200 to 500 MHz.
The main problem of such a complex, most likely, lies in the fact that in order to achieve the stated range, the signal must be reflected from the ionosphere and therefore it strongly depends on atmospheric disturbances, which, undoubtedly, will affect the work of Murmansk.
At this year's Moscow Aviation and Space Salon, KRET officially presented a set of equipment designed for interference with long-range radar detection aircraft (primarily American E-3 "ABACS") 1Л269 "Krasukha-2" at a static exposition. It is noteworthy that, according to the concern’s management, this station can jam AWACS at a distance of several hundred kilometers.
At the same time, Krasukha continues the line of development of the Pelena and Pelena-80 complexes developed by the Rostov Scientific Research Institute Gradient in 1-s. The ideology of these products contains a very simple solution proposed at one time by the head of Gradient, and later by the general designer of the EW direction in the USSR Yury Perunov: the interference station signal should exceed the signal power at the 30 decibels.
Judging by the available information, it is very difficult to suppress such a goal as the E-3 “AWACS”, since its radar has more than 30 tunable frequencies that continuously change during operation. Therefore, Yuriy Perunov, in his time, suggested that the most optimal solution would be to suppress the entire narrow-band by powerful noise interference.
However, this solution also has serious drawbacks - the “Pelena” / “Krasukha” hindrance closes only one direction, and taking into account the fact that the plane performs a flight along the route, the station’s impact on the AWACS will be quite limited in time. And if in the area two DRLO airplanes will already operate, then even taking into account interference when combining the data, the E-3 operators will still be able to get the necessary information.
Strong noise interference will not only be detected by the RTR means of a potential enemy, but will also become a good target for anti-radar missiles.
All these problems were known to the developers of “Pelena” from the very beginning, so the more modern “Krasuha” became highly mobile, which allows it to quickly get away from the blow, as well as timely reach favorable positions for the application of electromagnetic damage. It is possible that not one but several stations constantly changing positions will act against DRLO airplanes.
But “Krasuha-2” is not at all such a universal machine capable of interfering with numerous radar stations, as is commonly believed. It cannot simultaneously interfere with both E-8 "AWACS" and E-2 "Hokai", since for each type of DRLO aircraft its own jamming station will be needed, pressing only the necessary frequency range, which are very different for DRLO aircraft radars.
It is noteworthy that the work on “Krasukha-2” began in the distant 1996 year and was completed only in 2011.
The “+ 30 DTSB” ideology is used in another newest interference station developed by the Gradient Research Institute - 1RL257 “Krasuha-4”, which is currently being actively supplied to brigades and separate EW battalions and designed to suppress airborne radar stations, including those installed not only on fighters and fighter-bombers, but also on E-8 and U-2 scouts. True, there are doubts about the effectiveness of the “Krasukha” against the ASARS-2 radar installed on the high-altitude Y-2, since, judging by the available data, its signal is not only rather complex, but also noise-like.
According to the developers and the military, in certain conditions, 1RL257 will be able to interfere even with the homing heads of the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, as well as the radar control weapons Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems.
As in the case of “Krasukha-2”, “Krasukha-4” is not quite an original product, but a continuation of the line of interference stations of the SPN-30 family, work on which began as early as the end of the 60-s. The new station uses not only the ideology of the old “thirty”, but, undoubtedly, some of the technical solutions used in them. Work on 1RL257 started in 1994 and completed in 2011.
The Avtobaz complex, also due primarily to the Russian media along with the Khibiny, has become in the eyes of the man in the street a kind of super-weapon, knocking any UAV away with interference. In particular, the victory over the American RV-170 UAV is attributed to this complex. At the same time, Avtobaz itself, as well as the Moscow complex recently commissioned by the Russian Defense Ministry, solve completely different tasks — conduct radio reconnaissance, issue target designation of the electronic warfare complex, and are the command post of the EW battalion. It is clear that Avtobaz had a rather indirect relation to the landing of the American UAV in Iran.
The incoming “Moscow” troops are now a continuation of the line of the command and control complex, which began with the “Mauser-1”, which was put into service as early as the 70-s. The structure of the new complex includes two cars - a reconnaissance station, which detects and classifies radiation types, their direction, signal power, and a control point, from which data for subordinate EW stations are transmitted in automatic mode.
According to the concept of the Russian military and EW developers, “Moscow” allows to secretly determine the situation from the enemy and inflict a sudden electronic defeat on its forces and means. But if the complex conducts electronic reconnaissance in the passive mode, then it sends control commands via radio links and the enemy, under certain conditions, can intercept them. In this case, there is even no need to decipher the signals, it is enough to detect the radio exchange and this will reveal the presence of the entire battalion (company) of the EW.
In addition to fighting the enemy’s aviation assets, Russian EW developers have paid a lot of attention to suppressing the enemy’s radio traffic, as well as jamming GPS signals.
The most famous jamming satellite navigation system is the P-330ZH "Resident" complex, developed and produced by the "Constellation" concern. A rather original solution was proposed by the SEC EW, whose products R-340РП are already being delivered to the units of the Ministry of Defense of Russia. Small-sized interference transmitters, whose signal is amplified many times by antennas located on the tower, are installed on civil cell phone towers.
Not only the media, but also some experts argue that the GPS signal is almost impossible to drown out. At the same time, technical solutions for “turning off” satellite navigation appeared in Russia at the beginning of the 2000s.
In the GPS system there is the concept of "reference frequency". The basis of the system is the transmission of the simplest signal from the satellite to the transmitter, so the slightest deviation from the given frequency, even in milliseconds, will lead to a loss of accuracy. The signal transmission is in a rather narrow range according to the open data - 1575,42 MHz and 1227,60 MHz, this is the reference frequency. Therefore, the work of modern jammers is aimed precisely at its blocking, which, given the narrowness of the reference frequency and with sufficiently powerful noise interference, is not difficult to drown out.
The Leer-3 complex consisting of an electronic reconnaissance vehicle based on the Tigr vehicle and several Orlan-10 unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with resettable jamming transmitters capable of suppressing not only radio, but also cellular. Similar tasks are performed, but without the use of drones, produced by concern “Constellation” complex RB-531B “Infauna”.
In addition to modern ground-based electronic warfare facilities, airborne complexes are also actively supplied to the Armed Forces of Russia. So, at the end of September, the Concern of Radio-Electronic Technologies (KRET) announced that within two years the production of the upgraded radio-electronic warfare system “Lever-AV”, installed on the Mi-8 helicopter, will begin. Also, the message indicates that the new complex will be able to blind the enemy within a radius of several hundred kilometers.
As in the case of other electronic warfare complexes, already described in the article, “Lever” (full name - Mi-8MTPR-1 helicopter with “Rychag-AV” jamming station) is a development of Soviet and Russian aircraft that have been in service for over 30 years. Air Force EW stations of the Smalt family, developed by the Kaluga Radio Engineering Research Institute (KNIRTI). The main task of both the new “Lever” and the older “Smalt” is quite simple - the suppression of the radar control stations of the weapon, as well as the homing heads of the enemy air defense missile systems (systems).
Work on the creation of these complexes began as early as the 70s, when the Syrian and Egyptian air forces encountered the new American Hawk anti-aircraft missile systems that had just entered service with Israel. Since the standard EW facilities were powerless against the overseas news, the Arab states turned to the USSR for help.
According to the original idea of the developers, “Smalt” was supposed to be placed on the car, but faced with a number of problems caused by the reflection of the signal from the earth's surface, the developers decided to transfer the station to a helicopter. Due to this, it was possible not only to get rid of interference - by raising the "Smalt" to such a height, where the signal is no longer reflected from the surface, the creators significantly increased its mobility and, accordingly, security.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, during the August 2008 war in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the use of the Mi-8SMV-PG with the Smalt stations installed on board resulted in the radar detection range of the Buk-M1 anti-aircraft missile systems. and C-125 decreased by 1,5 – 2,5 times (from 25 – 30 km in a noiseless situation to 10 – 15 km under conditions of interference), which, according to the Russian military, is equivalent to reducing the number of missile launches by a factor of two. On average, the duty of EW helicopters in the air took from 12 to 16 hours.
Judging by the available data, the Lever station can not only automatically detect, receive, analyze and suppress the signals of enemy radars, regardless of the radiation mode used (pulsed, continuous, quasi-continuous), but also act selectively enough when jamming, without suppressing its radar stations .
The work on “Lever” began in the 80-s, and the first experienced Mi-8MTPR with the “Lever-BV” jamming station entered the state tests in 1990-m. However, as a result of the collapse of the USSR and the reduction of funding, work on the new KNIRTI station was resumed only in 2001, but already under the designation “Lever-AV”. State tests of the Mi-8MTPR-1 helicopter with the new station were successfully completed in 2010.
Ideologically, the new helicopter station is close to the ground-based Krasuha-2 and Krasuha-4 developed by the Rostov Gradient All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Gradient All-Russian Scientific Research Institute - staging high-power, narrowly focused noise interference. However, as in the case of 1Л269 and 1ЛЛ257, the “Lever” signal is clearly visible for enemy electronic means of intelligence. Also, it should not be forgotten that not only in Russia, but also in the West, work is actively under way to create anti-aircraft missiles capable of targeting a source with a strong radio-electronic signal.
So what happened to Cook?
Work on the creation of the newest onboard defense complex "Khibiny" (product L175) began at the Kaluga Radio Engineering Research Institute as early as the end of the 80-s. The new product was originally calculated only for installation on the Su-34 front-line bombers, and thanks to the interest in the new station of the chief designer of the aircraft Rolland Martirosov, the designers of the Sukhoi Design Bureau were actively involved in the work on the Khibiny.
Station "Khibiny" is not just installed on the Su-34 and continuously exchanges information with the front-line bomber's avionics, but also displays the situation data on a special display located on the navigator's workplace.
It is noteworthy that judging by the radioelectronic technologies demonstrated by the Concern, for promotional purposes, video recordings of the radar indicator exposed to the Khibiny complex, there are signs of the use of powerful noise interference again. At the same time, the video does not have “asterisks” - imitation interference, so named because of the characteristic star-shaped pattern. Although this type of interference and indicated in the promotional materials.
Newer jamming stations, however, like Lever, have already managed to take part in hostilities: Su-34 front bombers equipped with Khibiny during the August war 2008 carried out group defense of strike aircraft, as well as conducted radio reconnaissance. Judging by the available data, the Air Force Command highly appreciated the effectiveness of the L175.
Summing up, we can conclude that the Khibiny is a radio-electronic warfare station, equipped with a complex multi-channel antenna array, capable of delivering powerful noise as well as imitation interference and conducting radio reconnaissance. L175 can not only protect individual machines, but also successfully perform the functions of a group protection station.
However, it is still possible to install the Khibiny only on the Su-34, since the onboard power supply system of these front bombers is specially adapted for the use of the newest radio electronic equipment station, which probably requires a lot of electricity for its operation.
Therefore, the answer to the question of what the Khibiny did with the American destroyer will not be sensational - such a station was not used during the overflight of the Su-24 front bomber of the US Navy destroyer Donald Cook. She simply could not be on board this type of aircraft.
In addition to the EW “Murmansk-BN” station already mentioned in the first part of the article, one more recently entered service, but this time of the Aerospace Forces (formerly Air Force) of Russia, is covered with a halo of IL-22PP “Fighter”. About the "Chopper" it is known only that it has side antennas installed, as well as a station towed in flight, unwinding behind the plane, according to some sources, several hundred meters.
As early as the end of 2000, the Sozvezdie Concern, which works on the creation of automated control systems (ESU TZ Sotsvezdie) and electronic warfare stations, focused primarily on the suppression of enemy radio communications and automated command and control (P-531B Infauna "), In conjunction with the TANTK named after G. Beriev, began work on the A-90 data management and relaying aircraft, according to some data, within the framework of the" Hawk "design and development work.
In 2012, in the course of work on R & D “Discomfort” “Constellation”, ground state tests of the equipment of the air-based multifunctional EW complex were conducted. At the same time, unique technical solutions in terms of high-potential antenna arrays and microwave power amplifiers with liquid cooling are allegedly applied at the new complex. It is noteworthy that the work on “Discomfort” also began at the end of the 2000-s.
But already in 2013, in a published prospective plan for the purchase of aviation equipment for the Russian Air Force before 2025, a certain “Hawk” (without specifying A-90) was called A-90, and only in the plans of purchasing-upgrading from 2021 to 2025. It became known from this document that the Russian Air Force plans to purchase the IL-22P “The Chopper” up to the 2020 year.
If you add up all the available data, you can assume: IL-22PP and A-90 are designed to perform the same tasks and it is possible that at present A-90 and “Discomfort” are somehow united in the works related to “ The chopper.
Perhaps IL-22PP is not just an aircraft with a complex of electronic warfare, designed primarily to suppress communications and the enemy's automated control system, but also a flying command post for controlling electronic warfare devices capable of independently conducting radio and electronic reconnaissance.
It must be admitted that at present, the Russian Defense Ministry is actively developing the direction of electronic warfare, not only forming units and parts of EW, but also equipping them with modern technology. The Russian military learned how to jam the "AWACS", onboard radar systems, as well as enemy communication lines and even GPS signals, in fact, in some areas occupying a leading position in the world.
As an example, we can cite the results of the use of electronic warfare by the Russian army during the war with Georgia in August 2008. Despite the fact that the enemy has enough modern air defense systems, including the Buk-M1 anti-aircraft missile systems and the upgraded C-125, as well as a large number of radars of both Soviet and foreign (mostly French) production, the Georgian air defense system only two Russian planes - the Tu-22М3, shot down under unclear circumstances, and the Su-24 of the 929 GLITS, destroyed either by the Polish Grom "Grom" or by the Israeli ZRK "Spider".
The units and subunits of the electronic warfare of the Ground Forces reported on almost complete suppression of the communication lines of the Georgian army (only satellite communications occasionally worked), as well as on the suppression of the communication lines of Georgian UAVs, resulting in the loss of several aircraft. So, the concerns of American journalists expressed in the first part of the article have a certain basis.
But we still have to admit that there are some difficulties in the development of EW forces and facilities. First, it must be understood that the use of electronic warfare must be coupled with precise control of the entire electromagnetic environment in the combat area. The experience of modern wars and military conflicts, in particular the already mentioned war with Georgia, shows that EW facilities, if used incorrectly, hit the enemy equally and their troops equally.
According to the Russian Air Force, in August 2008 of the year when the Georgian radar was suppressed by An-12PP aircraft, interference was also observed to Russian stations located 100 – 120 kilometers from the jamming zone. Ground stations of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation equally effectively suppressed communication lines - both Georgian and their own troops.
In addition, it is necessary to take into account that civilian radio-electronic means are working in the conflict area - communication channels serving the ambulance, emergency services, and police units. And if at present the Russian military, who have had negative experience in the past, are actively learning to operate under the conditions of using their EW funds, no one seems to be concerned about the impact on the civilian sector in the military-industrial complex.
Secondly, if you look closely at the EW product line presented by the industry, a large number of stations are striking, especially for KRET products, in fact ideological, and in some places the technical continuation of the complexes developed in 70 – 80's. And the same “Krasukhi”, “Lever” and “Moscow” could appear in the middle - the end of 90-s, but they slowed down due to chronic under-financing.
Most of the EW complexes are made on the same principle - the formulation of powerful noise interference, which, as already mentioned, has both significant disadvantages and equally significant advantages. But until recently, the millimeter and terrogaz ranges, which have practically not been used, are now more and more often attracting the attention of manufacturers of not only radio-electronic equipment, but also high-precision weapons.
On the so-called lower bands, for example, there may be only ten channels, and already on 40 GHz there will be hundreds of them. And the EW developers need to “close” all these channels, and this is a fairly large band, which means that more sophisticated electronic warfare equipment with a large channel is required, which in turn leads to an increase in the mass and size parameters of jamming stations and a decrease in their mobility.
But if we move away from science, then there is one big organizational problem in the system for developing Russian EW complexes. In fact, now the development and production of electronic warfare equipment is carried out not only by KRET, but also by the recently established United Instrument-Making Corporation (which includes the “Vega” and “Constellation” concerns), individual organizations from Roskosmos and Rosatom, and even private enterprises.
It should be noted that jobs are duplicated and overlap in places; one should not forget about such a phenomenon as lobbying of certain developments and firms. The first attempt to reorganize work in the field of creation of EW was the recent appointment of a general designer in the direction of EW by presidential decree. But how effective this decision will be, time will tell.