Russia Is Jamming US Drones In Syria

Now that the USS Destroyer Donald Cook has dropped anchor off Syria's territorial waters, Russian and Syrian interference operations are intensifying ahead of an anticipated attack by the US. And in what appears to be a throwback to the run-up to Russia's annexation of Crimea, the Russian military has again been jamming signals for some US drones operating in the skies over Syria, according to NBC, which cited four military officials.

The jammings reportedly started affecting some smaller drones several weeks ago, after a series of chemical weapons attacks on civilians in eastern Ghouta, an area near Damascus that's one of the last rebel-held strongholds near the Assad regime's territory. The Russian military was concerned - rightly, it appears - that the US would retaliate for the attacks (despite the US having "not yet conclusively determined whether the attack was carried out by...Assad"). So it began interfering with the GPS signals of some drones.

Drones

As we noted earlier, Russia appears to be making preparations for an imminent, US-led attack and according to unconfirmed reports, there have been intensive flights of Russian aircraft along the Syrian coast & over Khmeimim base, in addition ot the intense flights of military aircrafts belonging to the Assad regime in the sky over Homs. There is great anticipation from Assad and Russia for a possible blow.

According to Dr. Todd Humphreys, the director of the Radionavigation Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin, jamming isn't that complicated.

"GPS receivers in most drones can be fairly easily jammed," he said.

And what's worse, the technique is surprisingly effective: Humphreys, an expert on spoofing and jamming of GPS, warns jamming could cause drones to malfunction or even crash.

"At the very least it could cause some serious confusion" for the drone operator on the ground if the drone reports an incorrect position or is lost, Humphreys said.

The US first caught the Russians jamming their drone signals back in eastern Ukraine four years ago, following the invasion of Crimea. The jammers were initially detected as a faint signal from space, NBC said.

The jamming campaign "had a pretty significant impact" on the United Nations surveillance drones, forcing the UN to ground the fleet for several days - bringing their intelligence gathering operation to a screeching halt.

Drones

Asked by NBC whether the jamming was causing the drones to crash, the Defense Department wouldn't confirm or deny, citing concerns about operational security.

"The U.S. military maintains sufficient countermeasures and protections to ensure the safety of our manned and unmanned aircraft, our forces and the missions they support," said Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon.

The Russians' 'jamming' technique is very sophisticated, military officials said. It has even proven effective against some encrypted signals and anti-jamming receivers. Most of the drones impacted so far have been smaller surveillance drones - not missile-slinging Predator and Reaper drones.

Jamming attacks can ultimately be as crippling as a bullet, Humphreys said.

"They are a little less hostile looking than a kinetic bullet but sometimes the effect can be just as damaging," he said. "It's like shooting at them with radio waves instead of bullets."

The Russians, of course, aren't the only ones deploying scramblers. Yesterday, we reported that the Chinese had installed radar scramblers in the Spratly islands to foil or deter more US navy operations in the Pacific.

We're still waiting for the US's promised retaliation for the latest chemical gas attack. Though keep in mind: Nearly all information coming from the attack site in Syria has filtered through anti-Assad sources linked to al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra

Comments

spyware-free DownWithYogaPants Tue, 04/10/2018 - 15:49 Permalink

The Russians haven't even pulled out the good stuff yet. Khibiny ECM's have been miniaturized and mounted on helicopters and airplanes. Those aircraft as well as the ground based Krasukha-4 systems and satellite based GPS jammers will form an electronic shield around their airbases at the appropriate time.
https://sputniknews.com/military/201708311056962045-russia-electronic-w…

It basically causes an adversary to send many more attack vehicles than they otherwise would to penetrate the defenses. Which is why the U.S. had to send 60 tomahawks to hit a single Syrian airbase last year.

ECM's are not as effective is low telemetry radar anti-aircraft systems like the Pantsir-2. It's more effective and reliable to just shoot the tomahawks down.
https://sputniknews.com/military/201704151052670608-pantsir-efficient-t…

In reply to by DownWithYogaPants

Stuck on Zero spyware-free Tue, 04/10/2018 - 16:32 Permalink

GPS jammers are so cheap now that all weapon systems need to be autonomously guided.  US weapon systems go to sophisticated "dead reckoning" and LIDAR terrain following when GPS signals are jammed. Later model weapon systems can use selective antenna nulling to ignore jammers. (https://www.raytheon.com/capabilities/products/gps_anti-jam, https://www.airforce-technology.com/features/featurespoofing-and-jammin…).

In reply to by spyware-free

fleur de lis giovanni_f Tue, 04/10/2018 - 16:11 Permalink

Yes, it was annexed by Catherine the Great.

During the 70 years of Bolshevik torment, entire ethnic populations were transferred or killed, and borders were redrawn.

Khruschev redrew the Ukrainian borders to include Crimea, but the population was still ethnically Russian for the most part.

That is why they returned as a bloc after a referendum. 

In reply to by giovanni_f

BarkingCat fleur de lis Tue, 04/10/2018 - 16:34 Permalink

At the time it was an administrative transfer and it actually made sense as the territory was attached to Ukraine and not Russia.

Hell, even if you go to Kiev majority of the Ukrainians living there are of Russian descent. You can tell the difference in physical appearance.  Actually I should have said majority of their genetic makeup is Russia. There is a lot of marriages between Russians and Ukrainians and even Poles. Not to mention the Tatars and other minorities. 

In reply to by fleur de lis

JustTheTTIP Ignatius Tue, 04/10/2018 - 15:22 Permalink

The Russians' 'jamming' technique is very sophisticated, military officials said. It has even proven effective against some encrypted signals and anti-jamming receivers. Most of the drones impacted so far have been smaller surveillance drones - not missile-slinging Predator and Reaper drones.

If Kvant 1L222 Avtobaza and advanced is being used then they are leaving the true jamming for a real event.

In reply to by Ignatius

NickelthroweR JohninMK Tue, 04/10/2018 - 19:13 Permalink

Greetings,

It is how the Germans found it to be.  As the Germans moved into the Soviet Union they encountered better equipment the further along they went.  The Germans like to put their best foot forward and were shocked to find that not everyone fought that way.  For example, the Germans couldn't figure out how each year of the war brought bigger and smarter Americans.

In reply to by JohninMK

DocBerg JustTheTTIP Tue, 04/10/2018 - 17:14 Permalink

So why are we flying drones in a country where we do not have a Declaration of War? The duly elected government of Syria invited in the Russians, the Iranians, Hezbollah, and even some Chinese troops, but no Americans. I think the Pentagon is banking on the Russians backing down again. This may not be the case, and such things can escalate swiftly. This situation is starting to look lot like 1914 all over again.

In reply to by JustTheTTIP

Shemp 4 Victory serotonindumptruck Tue, 04/10/2018 - 15:10 Permalink

 

And in what appears to be a throwback to the run-up to Russia's annexation of Crimea

Fake premise. Crimea seceded from the Ukraine and voted to rejoin Russia. No annexation.

the Russian military has again been jamming signals for some US drones operating in the skies over Syria, according to NBC, which cited four military officials.

Fake news from fake sources.

"This is more fake information from American media, which appears so often in recent times. Russia has repeatedly said that its actions, including in Syria, are made only in accordance with international treaties, such actions could not really have taken place," Serebrennikov said.

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201804101063393678-russia-drones-syr…

We're still waiting for the US's promised retaliation for the latest chemical gas attack.

Just don't wait for confirmation that the chemical attack actually even occurred, because that won't be forthcoming.

In reply to by serotonindumptruck

Erek hedgeless_horseman Tue, 04/10/2018 - 15:08 Permalink

"...back in eastern Ukraine four years ago, following the invasion of Crimea."

Excuse me. Who invaded Crimea?

It wasn't Russia or anyone else. Russia has had bases there for decades and agreements with Kiev to station some 20 to 25 thousand troops there.

 

An inititiative voted on by the local populace to split from Ukraine and go with Russia does not constitute an invasion.

In reply to by hedgeless_horseman