The U.S. is “in the most aggressive EW [electronic warfare] environments on the planet,” says U.S. Army General Raymond Thomas at GEOINT 2018. In Syria, Russia continues to fine tune and develop a total package of EW Systems, and like Ukraine, Moscow is using Syria as a test bed to perfect EW systems.
Some EW experts are saying that Russia’s military has organizationally surpassed the U.S. in terms of Electronic Warfare. As Moscow continues technological advances in EW, its forces are learning to jam, disrupt, and interfere with communications, radar, and other sensor systems.
Russia is jamming U.S. aircraft and drones operating over Syria, seriously affecting American military operations, according to U.S. officials. Roger McDermott, Senior International Research Fellow for the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) points out in his report, Russia’s Electronic Warfare Capabilities to 2025, “NATO needs to plan, revise its scenarios, and train to conduct defensive and offensive operations in a fiercely contested EMS battlespace.”
Nevertheless, there are important implications for the Alliance in the progress made in EW by Russia’s Armed Forces, as well as the likely long-term persistence of these trends in military modernisation and transformation. Above all else, it requires recognition that, through such “force multipliers”, the end result of the ongoing transformation of Russian’s Armed Forces will offer a conventional capability way beyond that possessed by the Soviet legacy force of the 1990s.112 If conflict with Russia ever erupts on NATO’s Eastern Flank, the first sign of activity will be in the EMS—and in this spectrum the initiative and advantage will be determined. Moscow appears to perceive this as an area of possible weakness on the part of the Alliance, and has therefore invested in further strengthening this capability. This means that NATO must change its approaches to policy, doctrine, organisation, capabilities, training, tactics and procedures, and exercise scenarios.113 These advances have not gone unnoticed by some US EW officers. In December 2015, Colonel Jeffrey Church, chief of the Army staff at the Pentagon’s Electronic Warfare Division, identified the extent to which the Russian military may have organisationally surpassed their American counterparts in terms of EW. Addressing a meeting of EW specialists in Washington DC, Church explained:
“The Russians train to it. They have electronic warfare units, they have electronic warfare equipment that those trained soldiers use, and then they incorporate it into their training. We do not have EW units, we have very little equipment, and we do very little EW training. It’s not that we could not be as good as or better than them, it’s just that right now we choose not to.”
Video: Gen. Raymond A. Thomas III, Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command at GEOINT 2018
Video: Roger McDermott on Russia’s Electronic Warfare Capabilities to 2025