SU-30SM, SU-35S, and SU-34 flying in formation - Sputnik International, 1920
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Russia Muting Musk’s Starlink Satellites Using Sophisticated Electronic Warfare Tools

© Photo : mkpborshchevik.ruPrinciples of operation of the Borshchevik, showing its capabilities in an urban environment (left) open fields and wooded areas (right). English-language translation of original Russian text.
Principles of operation of the Borshchevik, showing its capabilities in an urban environment (left) open fields and wooded areas (right). English-language translation of original Russian text. - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.05.2024
The Russian military possesses perhaps the most comprehensive, multilayered and multi-domain electronic warfare capabilities in the world, using an array of short, medium, long and ultra-long range systems to effect throughout the course of the proxy war with NATO in Ukraine.
The Russian military continues to ramp up its ability to disrupt the Starlink internet capabilities Ukraine’s troops use to coordinate their forces, collect intel and launch drone attacks on Russian frontline positions, causing mass “outages” in the Kharkov area of the front and playing a role in the rapid pace of Russia’s recent advances.
That’s according to Ukrainian officials, soldiers and electronic warfare specialists queried by the New York Times to find out why Russia’s EW operations had slowed frontline troops’ ability to communicate using Starlink internet to a crawl, forcing troops to resort to simple text messages.
NYT warned that if Russia’s massed efforts to disrupt Starlink “continue to succeed, it could mark a tactical shift in the conflict, highlighting Ukraine’s vulnerability and dependence on the service provided by Mr. Musk’s company,” while raising “broader questions about Starlink’s reliability against a technically sophisticated adversary.”
“We’re losing the electronic warfare fight,” a deputy commander from the Ukrainian 92ndAssault Brigade’s drone battalion told the newspaper. “One day before the attacks, it just shut down. It became super, super slow,” he complained.
A Ukrainian drone operator confirmed the connectivity issues. “During the first hours the front line was very dynamic. The enemy was moving. And we were moving as well. We needed to be to be fast in communicating,” the soldier said, complaining that the loss of Starlink connectivity “made everything more complicated” and “time consuming.”
View of an antenna of the Starlink satellite internet at the Jhon F. Kennedy school in Sotomo, Los Lagos Region in southern Chile, on August 8, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.03.2024
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Starlink, which operates by beaming internet down to portable Earth-based terminals using vast constellations of satellites, has been in Russia’s crosshairs since the early months of the Ukrainian crisis.
Sputnik has detailed the technical minutiae of some of the tools Russia has at its disposal to jam Starlink’s operations in Ukraine without breaking international law – including the use of ground-based radars to detect the operation of and pinpoint the location of Starlink terminals, and jamming signal transmission directly. The Borshchevik is one such system.
Ukrainian Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov told the NYT that Russia’s latest attacks against Starlink appeared to be using more advanced technology, saying the Russians were “testing different mechanisms to disrupt the quality of Starlink connections because it’s so important for us.”
Fedorov did not elaborate on the nature of these “powerful” Russian EW systems, but said Kiev has maintained constant communication with Starlink to try to resolve the problems.
Inside NATO-Supplied, Starlink-Equipped Ukrainian Command Post in Avdeyevka Coke Plant's Ruins - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.02.2024
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Experts from NATO countries aren’t entirely certain what’s causing the signal loss – improved and more precise Russian jamming equipment, or a new breed of special electronic warfare weapons mounted on drones to confuse the GPS signals. NYT also didn’t rule out that “solar storms” may be responsible for random outages.
Russia has demonstrated a mounting technological advantage over Ukraine in recent months, blasting through heavily fortified defensive lines in the Donbass – which Ukraine’s military had spent nearly a decade building up with NATO’s help, and advancing rapidly in the Kharkov region to create a “sanitary zone” after repeated Ukrainian attacks on Russian civilian infrastructure, including the border city of Belgorod.
Retired US Army Lieutenant General and former spec ops commander Mike Nagata warned last week that America was “falling behind” its adversaries in electronic warfare despite its best efforts.
“The gap between where the United States should be and where we are, in my judgement, continues to expand not everywhere, but in far too many places,” Nagata said at a Special Operations Forces Week conference in Tampa, Florida.
Ground-based electronic warfare equipment developed by Russian defense electronics concern Kvant. - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.05.2024
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The former commander’s assessment was echoed by Hudson Institute senior fellow Daniel Patt in recent Congressional testimony. Patt warned in March that Russian EW systems had resulted in a dramatic drop in the effectiveness of some US GPS-guided munitions sent to Ukraine from 70 percent to as low as six percent.
Over the past two years, Russia has fine-tuned its electronic warfare capabilities to jam NATO artillery shells and JDAMs, heavy and long-range strike drones, and missiles. An informed source told Sputnik last October that Russia’s EW troops were preparing equipment to suppress F-16s when they arrive in Ukraine.
Electronic warfare has been a traditional Russian strong suit going back to Soviet days, when doctrines emphasized the “total integration of electronic warfare and physical destruction resources” on the battlefield.
Russia's Krasukha-4 electronic warfare system. File photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.04.2024
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