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Russian REC/REW (Electronic Warfare, ECM)

John Kettler

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For years now I've been trying to get the word out on Russian understanding of and countermeasures to hostile electronic sensors and communications. The core translated term in the West is REC (Radioelectronic Combat), often depicted as REW (Radioelectronic Warfare). The Krasuha, especially the Krasuha-4, embodies exactly what I'm talking about in this regard, for it is a high level part of a fully integrated Russian approach to what we call EW (Electronic Warfare) and ECM (Electronic Countermeasures). From what I can tell, not only can Krasuha-4 jam in the usual sense, but it can also be used to burn out sensitive receivers on such platforms as AWACS, JSTARS and RIVET JOINT, to name but three. The Russians are claiming this weapon can also be used against satellites in LEO. They may well be right. What is absolutely clear is that this thing has a big antenna; it can form a very tight beam, so can bring a lot of power to bear on a target. 


Not only can you have all sorts of jamming effects, but it's conceivable there will be back door entry paths for the impinging RF energy. It takes very little to upset complex microelectronics, not much more to wreck them. This presumes the target's basic electronics don't fold under direct high power RF. I've done this sort of analysis and stirred up a hornet's nest because I started looking into issues of what kind of incoming power load a certain missile and model thereof's active radar seeker's receiver could handle. I was ultimately hauled into the manager's office and informed "Neither we (my bosses) nor the Customer (a certain military service) desire you to continue this line of inquiry." This sort of vulnerability is a real problem, and if things aren't properly protected, you can even wind up with ordnance exploding, aircraft fuel catching fire or personnel injuries--all from high power RF. HERO, HERF, HERP. There is no doubt in my mind you don't want to be close to this thing.

But consider JSTARS. It sends out radar pulses to see, clear out to 125 n mi (200 km) what's where and who's doing what. Those signals attenuate at 1/R*4, representing the two way path out and back again, whereas the Krasuha-4 has but to go only one way, so attenuates in signal strength at 1/R*2, a huge advantage, even were both emitters identical in every regard. But that is only part of the story. Because of the distance involved and other factors, the radar return to JSTARS is weak, whereas the Russian system is sending a powerful focused RF beam back at a receiver designed to handle only a very weak returning signal. Not good. Absent special protective measures, this is going to be a hammer blow to the receiver electronics; a load they simply were never designed to handle. This is why the Russians talk so confidently about suppressing (i.e., jamming) and even damaging a range of electronic systems. Understand, though, that their "damage" may very well mean partial or complete Mission-Kill for us. JSTARS may still be able to communicate, but the all-important radar systems may be mission duration disabled, as a case in point. Now you know why I go on about threats to our various Deep Look systems. Should war ever come, there will be no free pass for them, no unfettered use such as we had in both Gulf Wars, to name but two. 


John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler
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Oh yes, the Daily Mail, ever the consistently accurate source on military news. :D 

This is true (in the ironic sense). 

John,  you may as well quote USA Today or News of the World.  

The Dumb Mail could never be considered a reliable,  legitimate or even just plain sensible publication. It is a gutter tabloid masquerading as a broadsheet, something well known in UK/IRL. 

Interesting as your note is,  and your rationale is fairly sound,  quoting a "newspaper"  like the DM badly damages  the credibility of your points. 

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That was merely where I saw it, not the only place it exists. A bit of digging found:




More specifically, the Krasukha-4 has been described as a tool against “flying radars,” such as the USAF E-8 Joint STARS aircraft, or reconnaissance satellites - like the United States’ Lacrosse satellite - and a means of protection against surveillance and combat unmanned aerial vehicles, otherwise known as drones.

Lacrosse, since replaced by something better, I believe, is a SAR satellite.

From a major Russian defense policy site, there's this piece, Part 1 of a meaty two article series.



In all, there is a wealth of material confirming what I said confirming Russian deployment of EW systems to defeat our Deep Look radar systems. We can argue about whether the Krasukha-4 can cause physical damage to vulnerable electronics, but there can be no doubt that sophisticated, powerful jammers have been developed and fielded to deal with  what the Russians deem an acute threat, since these systems are key to the functioning of the west's Reconnaissance Strike Complex systems. I stand by my assessment.


John Kettler

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One of the issues in understanding Russian EW is the claimed capabilities are often irrational to the point of mockery.  They emit so hard vehicle engines cannot start.  All computers fail.  It is the EMP!

The reality is they're highly capable systems, with an understanding of the exact functionality ranging between fairly precise (we've listened in on them/have one of the units ourselves), to largely conjecture (limited over the horizon electronic collection, broad understanding about antenna size and power output).  EW that jams so hard....it kills is doubtful simply because most collection or sensor platforms have some sort of failsafe as that's just a prudent thing to have.  Not even in terms of EW, but there's enough emitters out there that are powerful enough that it's a smart choice to build in a safety element to it.

One of the bigger questions about Russian EW equipment however, is how well it deals with counter-measures, or the increasing array of "home on jam" type guidance packages.  While it's not a simple easy fix by any stretch of the imagination, it is something that there is an interplay between capability and counter-capability that goes less advertised than SU-24s shutting down entire US fleet with one simple trick doctors don't want you to know about.  

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with one simple trick doctors don't want you to know about.  

Lol,  god those ads are maddening in their assumption of your stupidity. 

John, not doubting your assessment,   just don't expect a Daily Mumble link to add any weight to your posts - quite the opposite in fact,  for me at least. 

Your follow on links above are much more informative and intelligent. 

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