11 November 2015

This S%$ Keeps Popping Up

This S%$ Keeps Popping Up
I keep hearing about a super Russian jammer that blocks all NATO Sensors at 600 km.

The reports are crap.

First the claims are literally incredible, by which I mean that they are impossible to believe.

They are supposed to hit all radars, sonars, electro-optical sensors, and navigation systems: (in Comic Sans font, no less)
From the combat zone in northern Syria comes news of the deployment of a new Russian electronic jamming system which can reportedly blind radar, disrupt electronic guidance systems, and interfere with satellite imagery as well. As a result, NATO is effectively blinded inside a bubble of 600 km in diameter centered on the Russian base at Latakia, reports, Thierry Meyssan from Damascus.

The technology in question seems similar to the KRET Richag-AV system, although it apparently functions on a larger scale. A tactical version of this system was presented to journalists in the Russian city of Back in April 2015. As Sputnik reported then:

“The Richag-AV system, mounted on the Mi-8MTPR1 (a variant of the Mi-8MTB5-1 helicopter) is said to have no global equivalent. Its electronic countermeasures system is designed to jam radar, sonar and other detection systems in the aims of defending aircraft, helicopters, drones, ground and naval forces against air-to-air and surface-to-air defense systems within a radius of several hundred kilometers. It can be mounted on units from any branch of the armed forces, including helicopters and airplanes, as well as ground and ship-based forces. The Mi8-MTPR1-based Richag-AV platform, using multi-beam antenna arrays with DRFM technology, is designed to actively jam and thus ‘blind’ radar systems in order to defend against radio-electronic guided weapons systems. In a combat situation, the system would operate as part of an aviation shock attack group aimed at breaking through virtually any defense system, blinding everything up to and including the US MIM-104 ‘Patriot’ anti-aircraft missile system.” (OSNET DAILY)
Even a cursory examaminatin reveals this to be patently false.

The physics shows that it cannot work.

First, of course, is the curvature of the earth:  at 600 km, you can operate at significant altitude while the signal ia attenuated by rock and dirt.

Signal power decreases as the square of the distance, so if you are using brute force jamming, you would need to 100 times more power if the jammer were at a full distance and the sensor was at a distance of 60 km.

In terms of jamming communications, modern military communications signal hop, so any jammer would have to determine the frequency and respond.

Assuming that the jammer could instantly shift frequencies, it would be 4 milliseconds before it could jam a new frequency because of the speed of light.

With 10 frequency changes per second, and a base speed of 56 kbps for nostaligia's sake, you end up with 2 kbps, which would have been stunning to me when I was using a 300 baud modem in the early 1980s.

Realistically, you could get more than 10x that out of any communications system, because the base rate would be higher, and the jammer could not respond instantly.

Not enough speed for full time video, but enough for video stills.

Finally, you also have created a huge beacon that would just says to a potential enemy, "Shoot me now."

The whole idea reads like the Cylon cyberattack in the Battlestar Galactica reboot.

I just got to the bottom of this, with help from an Aviation Week article from over a month ago by the indispensable Bill Sweetman.
The system is far more limited, and does not hit things like satellites and sonar. It jams AWACS, which is eminently doable, and tactically significant:
Russian defense electronics conglomerate Kret (Concern Radio-Electronic Technology) introduced a range of new electronic warfare (EW) systems at the 2015 MAKS air show at Zhukovsky, near Moscow, including a new helicopter-borne jamming system and a high-power ground-based system designed to blind the widely used Boeing E-3 Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) and other systems using the S-band (2-3 GHz). According to Kret, the Krasukha-2 AWACS jammer can act as a high-power microwave weapon, with enough power to damage target hardware. It is developed by Kret’s Gradient subsidiary and is mounted on a BAZ 6909 8 X 8 truck.

The 9-ft.-dia. parabolic reflector focuses energy from a battery of feed horns and at least two secondary side feeds, and sits, with the radio-frequency signal generators, on a 360-deg.-rotatable platform, with up to 5 deg. elevation. It is claimed to be effective over a 45-deg. angle to the main radar beam, jamming through the radar’s sidelobes, and able to mask a target from an AWACS that is 150-300 km (93-186-mi.) from the jammer. The 100-kW-plus generator and power-conditioning system is built into the truck chassis and is driven by a spur from the transmission.
It is an impressive piece of kit, but it does not violate the laws of physics as claimed in the other article.

If they manage to integrate this with an electronically scanned antenna, it would be even more formidable, but it isn't a world beater.

It is notable in that it is a capability that NATO does not possess, our doctrine is predicated on a system where we always have air superiority.

Russian doctrine does not operate under this assumption.


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