The Russian Military is Posturing with Bold Claims of New Military Technology

Russia can perform all sorts of military wonders, just ask their covert influence section…

In a new propaganda video just released, Russia claims that it can disable the world’s biggest naval force simply by using a powerful electronic jamming signal that renders useless any planes, ships, or missiles coming its way.

The report references how far technology has come, saying that “Russian Electronic Warfare (REW) troops can detect and neutralize any target from a ship’s system and radar, to a satellite.” This report appears to be a continuation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim of a highly skilled cyber warrior unit now existing, as he revealed his new Russian Electronic Warfare troops just a few weeks ago.

When I was stationed on the inner German border as a Russian linguist, this sort of claim was common. Then, the USSR often claimed new weapons and great capabilities. Some of the claims were so comically outlandish that those of us whose job was to listen to and decipher fact from fiction just shook our heads and snickered.

An associated video news report claims that the Russian forces “do not need ammunition for victory” and refers to a “small jamming device with a poetic name, Lesochek,” which can suppress enemy communication channels. The Lesochek small-size electronic warfare system is designed to jam radio-controlled explosive devices and prevent the detonation of explosives near vehicular convoys. The system can function both stationary or on the move and is highly resistant to jamming and anti-radiation missiles. The small size of this system also allows it to be carried in a vehicle or a backpack.

The Lesochek is similar to counter IED systems the U.S. has been using since 2006, namely the Counter Remote Controlled Improvised Explosive Device (RCIED). The Electronic Warfare (REW) Duke system is a vehicle-mounted, lightweight system that neutralizes RCIED threats and gives U.S. troops a tactical advantage across the full spectrum of operations.

The U.S. also uses the THOR III.  It is a man-portable, counter-radio-controlled, improvised explosive device (IED) jammer built by the Sierra Nevada Corporation and employed by the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, and Afghan National Army soldiers in Afghanistan. The Sierra Nevada received the initial contract in December 2007.

The same news report states that Russia made an “incredible breakthrough” three years ago in the Black Sea, when one of its Sukhoi Su-24 supersonic attack aircraft was spotted circling the American destroyer, the USS Donald Cook. The video further states that the country used its powerful electronic jamming signal technology on the destroyer, claiming to have “paralyzed” the ship’s electronic systems.

The Russian produced report and video claim that the bomber pilot managed to disable the vessel’s state-of-the-art air Aegis combat systems “at the flick of a switch.” The report states, “The U.S. military did not know that the Russian aircraft was equipped with the latest electronic warfare. As soon as the pilot realized that he had been spotted, he switched on the equipment, and powerful radio-electronic waves deactivated the whole ship’s systems.”

This story of the encounter was first released in 2014, when Russia′s state-run news media outlets—without citing any specific sources of information—ran a series of reports and claimed that during the incident, the Su-24—equipped with the Khibiny electronic warfare system—disabled the ship’s Aegis combat systems.

The outlandish report goes as far as to say that after the encounter, 27 U.S. Sailors onboard the USS Donald Cook submitted letters of resignation and were sent to psychological treatment.

The jamming claims were ignored by Western mainstream media and were summarily dismissed in February 2015 as “nothing but a newspaper hoax.” The Khibiny jammer’s Russian manufacturer, KRET, stated that the Khibiny electronic jamming device was not even installed on the Su-24.

This is classic Russian (Soviet) propaganda. Unnamed sources, quotes that cannot be verified, statements attributed to U.S. officials that have no basis, in fact, are par for the course.  There were never any reports of sailors resigning or being sent for treatment due to their demoralized state by anyone other than the Russian media and Russian aligned bloggers.

Just take a look at this statement released by the Russia news agency Vesti. Not only is this not plausible, but it would also be hard to imagine any U.S. sailor—or citizen—speaking this way. Clearly, there is a language and word usage problem.

Vesti quoted a social media post by an unnamed crew member of the USS Donald Cook to describe the event:

“We watched the Russian on our locator until he reached the kill zone, to then ‘shoot him down.’ But when he entered the damned zone, mysticism began. Our locators were the first to go out, and then the whole Aegis went out. The pride of our fleet became our shame! The U.S. military didn’t know that the Russian aircraft was equipped with the latest electronic warfare complex Khibiny.”

Like everything involving Russia and the U.S. at this point, you have to take everything with a proverbial grain of salt. But when taken from a propaganda perspective, considering that throngs of international headlines reposted the initial story blindly with headlines such as “Russia Chases Off U.S. Destroyer” and other variations, the original story probably did its job as far as Russian interests are concerned.

Also, take into account that this entire story is a rehash of a report the Russians floated back in 2014. It is propaganda at the most amateur level, which is only repeated by conspiracy followers and the Russians. It does make a good Tom Clancy type of novel, though.

I am again shaking my head and snickering.

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Jon Harris
Jon Harris is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and former Army NCO, Sergeant Morales Club member, civilian law enforcement officer, and defense contractor with over 30 years in the law enforcement community. He is published in Army Trainer Magazine, authored regular columns in several newspapers, and is the author of the Cold War novel Breakpoint. His adventures as a security contractor in Afghanistan and Iraq can be found on www.dispatchfromdownrange.com. He holds a B.S. in Government and Politics and an M.S. in Criminal Justice and is currently completing his Juris Doctor degree.

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