Another look at Russia’s radio-electronic combat – TTG


In October 2015 I put up a post largely about the Richag-AV and Krasukha-4 jamming systems then appearing with the Russian forces moving into Syria. It sparked a good discussion that cut through a lot of the techno-hype. One thing that became clear was that Russia developed and employed a broad family of radio-electronic combat (REC) technologies. Another point made was that these jamming technologies do not form an impenetrable force field. They work together as a “system of systems” to create an extremely hostile electro-magnetic environment for enemy weapons and surveillance systems. It’s not voodoo magic.

As a review of this subject, South Front put out an excellent summary of Russian REC capabilities. Although the article has a sensational title, “Ultra-Secret Weapon that Allows Russia to Assume His Supremacy in Electronic War in Syria” and it has been translated from Romanian to French and then to English, it is both readable and informative.

To continue the review, I took a look at some of the stories out there about the Cook/Su-24 incident. They run the gamut. A lot of the stories seem to conflate two different ECM systems. The Su-24 accounts from the Cook describe a single, basket-like pod under the belly of the fighter-bomber. Other stories describe the Khibiny as torpedo-like pods attached to the wing tips of many of the newer generation Russian aircraft, but not the Su-24. The Su-24 mounted system supposedly shut down, degraded or jammed the Aegis radars and/or fire control systems, but not the engines of the Cook. The wing tip mounted Khibiny system mounted on newer Russian aircraft is said to jam the ability of missiles to lock on and hit the aircraft. Sounds like two different ECM systems to me.

Another ECM incident involved a drone flown out of Syria towards Israel. The drone "deflected" two Iron Dome missiles and one missile fired by an Israeli F-16. This last incident is from a blog by Brad Cabana, a Canadian who posted reliable info during the louder parts of the war in Ukraine along with a thought provoking story of an incident surrounding the coup attempt in Turkey. 


“In fact, Erdogan was scheduled to meet in Moscow with Russian President Putin just two days before the coup. However, all that came to a sudden end when Erdogan was spirited out of his vacation home just prior to an attempt on his life by a platoon of Turkish special forces. Somehow he had gotten wind of it, boarded his jet, and jettisoned off toward Turkey's capital. While enroute to the capital his plane was "locked onto" by two Turkish F-16's. Despite locking onto Erdogan's jet the Turkish fighter pilots could not fire and bring it down – for whatever reason. The bottom line is that al the evidence points toward a very important Russian intervention in the coup – to stop it that is. It appears that Russian intelligence intercepted the coup plotter's communications and plans, alerted Erdogan in advance, and saving his life in the process. It likely also proved very clearly to Erdogan who his friends were, and who they were not. In any case, the mysterious escape from the lethal missiles of those two Turkish F-16s is really what this article is about.

Funny enough, Erdogan's saving grace seems to be a part of another trend that has raised its head for at least the last few years. Simply put, the Russians have developed technology that renders all missile systems, nuclear or conventional, useless. In November, 2014 the first high profile incident occurred when a Russian SU-24 fighter bomber shut down all systems on the USS Donald Cook in the Black Sea. The only armament the plane carried was a small basket – an important little basket known as "Khibiny" – perhaps named after the Russian mountain of the same name. In any case, the entire state-of-the-art destroyer was rendered unable to defend itself while the SU-24 flew eleven simulated bombing runs over it before flying off. The Cook's Aegis system (most modern US defence system) was shut down completely. 

Then, just three weeks ago a military drone entered Israeli airspace from Syria. The Israeli military fired two Patriot missiles at the drone, but the deadly accurate missiles could not hit the slow and plodding drone. Then an Israeli fighter pilot fired an air-to-air missile at the drone, but the missile would not strike it. It appears quite obvious that the Russian drone had on board a system similar to the Khibiny electronic warfare device that shut down the Cook. However, this system appears to not jam the firing systems, but just the missiles themselves. That would be a variant of the system and essentially render anti-aircraft systems and fighter jets obsolete. It seems clear the Russians used the air-tight "Iron Dome" Israeli anti-missile system as a test for this technology. Not a bad choice considering Israel's small land mass and therefore concentrated air defence systems. Or, in other words, no better place to test it in the world.” (Rock Solid Politics)


Cabana’s account of Erdogan owing his life to Russian ECM is interesting, but I haven’t found any other accounts of the incident. It might be true. It might be myth. Perhaps some of our august fellow correspondents can shed some light on this story.

I did find several other references to this last incident that corroborate Brad Cabana’s account. This sounds like a well planned field test of a Russian ECM system. I’m sure there were some Russian REC technicians shouting “Eureka” at the results of this experiment. I’m also pretty damned sure there were a lot of Israeli military officers and politicians crying “Ooooh Shiiit! We’re scrooowed!” It doesn’t take much imagination to understand the ramifications of just the possibility of such a lightweight, low power ECM becoming available to Hezbollah missile forces.



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64 Responses to Another look at Russia’s radio-electronic combat – TTG

  1. BabelFish says:

    Up front admitting to amateur status on this. Back when I was recruiting folks for developing these type systems at Lock Mart, the bywords were nothing trumps radiative power. The old Mig-25 was a primary example in that it had a massive radar, so strong that it would “burn through” any attempt to jam it. I don’t have the source now but senior Navy personnel expressed a lot of doubt regarding the Cook/SU-24 jamming incident based on the sheer mismatch in radiative power between an Arleigh Burke mounted Aegis system and what could be mounted on the SU-24. But, I have not seen a lot of follow up on these subjects.

  2. Andy says:

    These accounts are mostly if not wholly fiction. ECM has significant tactical value, but the claims made are in the realm of fantasy.
    Let’s just take a look at the Turkish F-16’s. They have 4 options to shoot down another aircraft:
    – Guns
    – IR Missiles
    – SAR Missile
    – Active Radar Missile.
    ECM can do nothing about the first two options. For the second two, ECM based hundreds of miles away does not have the power to do what is claimed because of the laws of physics. Even an ECM suite on Erogan’s plane would be hard pressed to prevent a radar engagement of a large, slow-moving aircraft.
    Any talk of “technology that renders all missile systems, nuclear or conventional, useless” is a complete fantasy.

  3. Kutte says:

    Thanks for drawing attention to this subject. I have been reading stories like that for a long time on other sites, the credibility of which I could not verify. I hope this site can shed some light on this. I guess we all know for sure once some undebatable incident happens, which hopefully will be never.

  4. walrus says:

    @Andy, it is highly dangerous to assume any advanced technology is complete fantasy. examples of “complete. fantasy” from my youth: dick tracy’s wrist radio, GPS, stealth aircraft, carbon fibre and most advances in genetics.
    i think what you really mean is that the Russians may have some capability that we don’t, or if we do, it’s classified.

  5. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    re: “While enroute to the capital his plane was “locked onto” by two Turkish F-16’s. Despite locking onto Erdogan’s jet the Turkish fighter pilots could not fire and bring it down – for whatever reason. “
    I can confirm this information.
    A strange game is on. Quite a few of us seculars believe that the coup was US based, based on evidence similar to the set you used about Russian “hacking”. The Russians might have saved tayyip but they also destroyed his (personal) tanker fleet and have been putting the screws on the Turkish economy. The delusional idiot, once the darling of neocons, is learning what real power is.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  6. Jack says:

    TTTG, Sir
    Technology development is only accelerating. Look how far mobile computing, robtics, autonomous systems and biotechnology have gone just in the past two decades. There’s over 400 companies who have been funded just in the SF Bay area to develop and commercialize machine intelligence. It should be no surprise that military technology will also be on a similar curve.
    The issue we face is that our defense development and procurement has become one massive ripoff boondoggle where outcomes don’t matter only the sheer scale of expenditures and the fiefdoms they sustain. Pigging at the trough is the primary objective. I was involved with a company that was a technology supplier to the NSA’s Trailblazer program. A multi-billion dollar boondoggle that enriched Booz Allen and all the others. At least it got canned after only a few billion spent.
    It is not just in military procurement, our health care & education spend is substantially higher than the OECD mean with terrible outcomes. Our system is now so geared towards high spend with poor results. That’s why nimbler nations run circles around us while spending a fraction of what we do. One day when the gravy train ends there will be lot of wailing. But in the mean time there are many who continue to claim that government spending to infinity have no deleterious effects and will lead to economic nirvana. As our recent election showed there are many Americans who are not ascending to that fabled nirvana.

  7. Yeah, Right says:

    The first two posts assume that the Russians are using some kind of jammer, which inevitably is going to be futile because of the mismatch in radiative power.
    That may not necessarily be the case.
    The USA now places so much emphasis on the “multidimensional battlespace” and on weapons-systems that constantly shares data between planes or between ships.
    Isn’t it possible that this is the point of weakness that the Russians can exploit e.g. hack into those networks and insert their own commands into them?
    So rather than throw an electromagnetic blanket over those planes or ships the Russians may be doing something much more elegant – something akin to reaching behind the backs of their opponent and flicking the “off” switch.

  8. turcopolier says:

    No idea. Good question. I prefer the age of sail. Have you read any of the Patrick O’Brien se novels. Mauisurfer – I wish you joy of your command! pl

  9. Kooshy says:

    TTG, the rumors in Iran is, that Erdogan flew to Tabriz in waiting there for a all clear safe signal to fly back to Turkey. I don’t know true or not but if Turkish skies were not safe for his plane for few hours that make sense.

  10. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think since neither the Russian Federation nor the United States have any viable strategic options against each other their confrontations will always be tactical.
    I also think that sufficient number of tactical gains can cause strategic gains.

  11. Andy says:

    Yes, it is a fantasy:
    – They did not “abruptly” leave, the returned from scheduled deployments.
    – Two carrier battlegroups departed for their scheduled deployments last month to replace them.
    – The remaining carriers are not suddenly having their copper wire replaced.

  12. mauisurfer,
    You spent a year in French Polynesia on an old wooden schooner? You have lived the dream, my friend. As a youngster, I spent a lot of time on the Charles W. Morgan at Mystic Seaport daydreaming about sailing those waters. I’d read passages from “Two Years Before the Mast” and “Moby Dick” while sitting on her deck or laying in one of the sailor’s wooden bunks below deck. If you ever feel like sharing some of your stories, I bet a lot of us here would be eager to read them.
    Here’s something just for you.

  13. ISL says:

    Given that Iran hacked into some drones, why do you think that it is impossible (I will maintain improbable) to hack into an IR missile? Per walrus, if so, its classified.
    Second, lets imagine that an EMP went off – would that affect the missile? Uh – huh. All you need to do is to induce sufficiently strong hall effect currents in the missiles brains at a distance large enough so it becomes ballistic and it misses. Is this currently possible by the Russians? I dont know, but can one say its impossible? no.
    And bullets from anywhere but very very close requires electronics to target. Were the turkish planes that close? I dont know. I do recall that the Cook left abruptly after the flyover, which is surprising given how the US insists on its right to put its vessels anywhere as long as it darn well likes.

  14. mike says:

    TTG –
    The KRET sales pitch for the Richag-AV is what they call the wonderful new technology of multibeam arrays and digital radio frequency memory DRFM. Neither of those are new, both have been around for several decades. They are also used by the USAF and the USN. Do they have some other EW magic embedded in that syatem they are not advertising? Who knows? But so far it sounds like marketing pitch for overseas sales.
    On the USS Cook and the SU-24, need more info. There are several radars on the Cook, which one did they claim to shut down? Navy said the KRET stories are bogus. But even if those stories are true, then why has the Navy not started another modification on the Aegis system to counter Khibiny? Plus it was my understanding that KRET claimed in February 2015 (three months after the supposed incident) that the Khibiny system had not been installed on the Su-24. And agree with what Babelfish said above about radiative power, the Cook has hundreds perhaps thousands more kW of power than a SU-24.
    Regarding Erdogan, I’m with Andy. There may be an ECM system out there that could prevent an aircraft from firing by interrupting a lock-on. But how do you prevent good old fashioned mechanical gunfire with electronics? Are they claiming they can interfere with the internal controls between the pilot and the gun breech? Possible I guess with some type of targeted EMP, but wouldn’t that take down all electrical systems in the aircraft and possibly cause it to crash?
    Iron Dome is a mystery to me. I am sure there is a lot of hype from IAI regarding its capabilities just as there is hype from KRET.

  15. Andy says:

    “it is highly dangerous to assume any advanced technology is complete fantasy.”
    Claims about advanced technology need to evaluated in terms of physical and technical possibilities. Electronic warfare is a mature technology, the capabilities and limitation of various frequencies, transmitters and receivers are all well understood. The vulnerabilities of legacy systems, like what is on Turkish F-16’s, are well understood. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be skeptical of unsubstantiated claims that some Russian EW system can effectively render the bulk of NATO’s tactical air fleet, not to mention nuclear missiles, “useless.”

  16. Andy says:

    A drone has a communication link between the aircraft and the ground station, which makes it technically possible to hack a drone. This is not possible with an IR missile which are guided by an on-board system. There is no communication link to hack or otherwise disrupt. What is possible is to fool their programming with various combinations of flares, IR masking, IR decoys and IR jamming in order to generate miss distance and not get shot down. This requires working in the IR section of the EM spectrum and generally requires the techniques to be done by the targeted aircraft due to the missile’s narrow field of view.
    Second, an EMP might affect a missile, but so what? There is no evidence of any kind of EMP in any of these incidents. That is a red herring.

  17. J says:

    Is China planning on a replay of a ‘Pearl Harbor’ on U.S. (the way they are positioning their Pacific Forces)? Blink, blink, or are my eyes playing tricks on me? Blink, blink.
    Is China working on annexing California perhaps? China right now is buying up Seattle at a high rate.
    Blink, blink.
    China’s moves are IMO creating perilous times for both U.S. AND Russia.

  18. Outrage Beyond says:

    Perhaps the ECM in question were used to lock down the entire fire control system of the F-16, rather than any individual weapon.

  19. BraveNewWorld says:

    The drones that the Iranians were able to tap into had completely unencrypted video feeds. The level of hacking was on par with putting us some rabbit ears and turning the dial until you found what you wanted. Once the signals stared to be encrypted that ended.

  20. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    For whatever reason the two F16s piloted by coup supporters did not bring down tayyip’s plane, which they had in their sights. This much is known. The “why” is unknown. One F16 could have brought down tayyip’s plane by flying right up its tail as well. Perhaps they chose not to. Had they acted differently, their (false flag) coup might have been successful.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  21. mike says:

    Ishmael Zechariah –
    I too believe it was a false flag.

  22. Thirdeye says:

    The reporting indicates that the F-16s couldn’t fire, i.e. something messed with the systems on the aircraft, not the onboard targeting systems of the weaponry.

  23. mike says:

    TTG –
    Russia has done a lot of investment in electronic warfare. I agree on that.
    In the Ukraine the Russians disrupted a UAV belonging to the OSCE monitoring mission that was detailing ceasefire violations (by either side). The report I saw was from FP magazine but cannot find it now. But as I recall the way they took the UAV down was by a combination of SAMs and jamming its GPS. The UAV was Austrian made and there was no info on which GPS system they were using or whether it used a military grade code or the civilian code.
    Can they jam US military grade GPS? I have no clue. Supposedly not. But I note that the GPS Block III is going to use a new M-code designed to further improve anti-jamming and anti-spoofing. The first launch was going to be in 2014, but that has been delayed now until 2018.
    This seems to me to be a much greater threat than Richag and/or Khibiny.
    A much smarter guy than me said: “Birds navigate 1000s of miles during migration and end up in the exact same spot. Salmon return to the exact same spot they were born to spawn. Nature abounds with examples of precision navigation that rival our best electronics. We should be investigating them!”

  24. charly says:

    That is mostly magnetic field. There is even reason to belief that we can sense the earth magnetic field but that is not even precise enough for an atom bomb and can be spoofed also.

  25. charly says:

    IIRC the Iranians hacked the GPS signal.But Iranians have great mathematicians so cracking the encrypted channel isn’t impossible.

  26. charly says:

    Maybe the Americans build a back door into the F16 and the Russians got the key. Or they just hacked the board-computer.

  27. Old Microbiologist says:

    I have been following this with some delight for a while now. There are a lot more incidents than mentioned here. There have been several tests of the various systems both in the Black Sea and in Kaliningrad.
    For example all air raffia control in Sweden was jammed last year:
    And again ins Syria:
    And several time the same Donald Cook was played with near Kaliningrad:
    And of course in Ukraine:
    From what I can tell the US and its allies have failed to anticipate these developments having underestimated the Russians for years now. Russia has been somewhat sparing in its use of these systems I am sure want I get to keep the technology a mystery for as long as possible. Countermeasures will take perhaps over 10 years for the US to develop if they start on it today. Given our experiences with the very prolonged weapons development and acquisition process in the US maybe we won’t ever have anything similar. Other interesting technologies only tested once against Chechens in 2012 is the portable EMP weapons. The one tested in 2012 was fired from a howitzer but I recall reading somewhere an EMP weapon was tested near Donetsk airport and shut down everything the Ukrainians have. I still vividly remember when the first MIG 29 defected weather US was surprised they were using tube radios and had no digital circuitry then they realize that Soviet aircraft were designed to operate in an EMP rich environment such as nuclear war. I do not know what the Russians are doing in this regard but suspect they have shifted to GAS based chips or similar which are resistant to EMP effects.
    My last observation is that a very old WWII era low wavelength radar was used to shoot down a US stealth fighter in Kosovo. So I believe should we be insane enough to fight Russia we will be hoisted by our own petards. Very clearly we have underestimated Russian capabilities.

  28. visitor says:

    This brings to mind the sinking of the Coventry during the Falklands war.
    From the detailed description of the battle, at some point the Coventry radar had locked on two Argentinian planes flying extremely low and extremely close together — so close that the radar assumed just one plane was heading towards the ship. When the planes started separating for the final attack, the system was incapable of making sense of a target apparently growing in size, resulting in an error and a reset. By the time the system had rebooted, it was too late.
    Could it be that those incidents with the Cook and the Iron Dome are actually computer bugs in the USA/Israeli systems deftly exploited by the Russian in conjunction with their newfangled electronic counter-measures?
    Have the Aegis and Iron Dome been used in real, seriously adversarial conditions enough times so that their developers could weed out serious bugs and sources of system/computer crashes? Who knows? A thumb rule of software development is that to uncover the nastiest errors you need to let customers shake and misuse your system — even the strongest testing suite is not enough. And the description of the Cook/Iron Dome incidents look uncannily like system errors bringing down or messing up with basic defensive capabilities.
    And after all, haven’t the past few years been rich in examples (e.g. Stuxnet) of cyberwarfare based on zero-day flaws and software faults, and aren’t the Russians supposed to be always on the prowl for such exploits?

  29. paratrop says:

    The Jack Aubree novels of Patrick O’Brian- like the Hornblower novels of C.S. Forrester – are based on the life of Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, and one of the cleverest sea warriors to ever set sail. Read one of his several biographies. Here is his epitaph:
    ‘Here rests in his 85th year Thomas Cochrane Tenth Earl of Dundonald of Paisley and of Ochiltree in the Peerage of Scotland Marquess of Marenham in the Empire of Brazil GCB and Admiral of the Fleet who by his confidence and genius his science and extraordinary daring inspired by his heroic exertion in the cause of freedom and his splended services alike to his own country, Greece, Brazil, Chile and Peru achieved a name illustrious throughout the world for courage, patriotism and chivalry. Born Dec 14 1775. Died Oct 31 1860’
    He was buried in Westminster Abbey. His story is that of a rebel who fought the bureacracy of the British Navy at every turn, and usually won.

  30. Peter AU says:

    At a couple of places in this video is a little on the Donald Cook incident. putins answer to the interviewer shortly before that section was cut made me think there was something in the story.
    Then the Russian drone sent to Syria for testing which “inadvertently” fluttered into Israeli airspace.
    Looking at videos like this (Tesla towers) makes me think the Soviet union put a lot into a line of pure scientific research that the US may not have followed, and Russia now has this scientific data base to use in the development of electronic warfare capabilities.
    And then a month or two back, Russian MoD then Putin announced that Russian borders were fully protected from any threat from any country or combination of countries.

  31. turcopolier says:

    Like a number of you I have done a bit of sailing and therefore I am astonished that Patrck O’Brien (pen name) had never been to sea, pl

  32. His research of contemporary sources had to have been extraordinary and his prose is wonderful to read.

  33. turcopolier says:

    mike and IZ
    I have said from the beginning that it was a phony coup. pl

  34. Andy says:

    The gap was due to a delay in the deployment of the GHWB which spent a couple months longer in maintenance than was originally planned.

  35. jld says:

    Sounds right!
    It is very, very, very likely that ANY “exported” armament, be it by the US, Russia or whoever else (French Exocets…) has one or more backdoors.

  36. Jill says:

    I spent many wonderful hours with Aubrey and Maturin. Imagine my surprise when I learned the novels are based on Lord Thomas Cochrane as was my beloved Hornblower. As I’m sure you already know that Frederick Maryatt was a midshipman (I think) with Cochrane. Of course, that sent me haring off on biographies of Cochrane and marveling at his life and doings. I think I might have a lingering case of hero worship where Cochrane is concerned.

  37. Andy says:

    @Outrage Beyond – Or it could be that the “Rock Solid Politics” blog post which makes these claims, without any evidence, is engaged in uninformed and idle speculation.
    ECM locking down a FCS is equivalent to suggesting the Russians could sit off the coast of Florida and somehow remotely turn off the engines of two specific 1995 Toyota Camrys driving on I-95. It’s science fiction or a movie McGuffin.
    More generally, I’m surprised so many are taking this seriously. These are incredible claims with no evidentiary basis and they deserve skepticism at the very least.

  38. mike says:

    Charly –
    As an avid salmon fisherman here in the NW, I try to keep up with the latest on their migration habits. The latest theories I have read from the boffins at local University biological departments show it is more than magnetic fields. They also use temperature gradients and a sense of ocean currents to get within a 30 to 60 mile radius of home. Then their sense of smell takes over to get them to the correct river mouth, and from there to the right tributary, and eventually to their specific stream or creek of birth. So they do not depend on a single navigation system like we currently do. I was glad to read a report last year that the Navy is once more teaching celestial navigation at Annapolis.
    Regarding birds, the below article from NG states that they use more than just magnetic fields also. Perhaps even landmark recognition like we do.

  39. Andy says:

    I’ve only read “Master and Commander.” Like Jill, I loved the Hornblower novels and even the A&E TV series was quite good.

  40. mike says:

    Old Microbiologist –
    That article on the shutdown of the Swedish ATC system claims it was a cyber attack. Not jamming although they acknowledged problems attributed to Kaliningrad, whether that was intentional jamming or interference was not stated. I recall a story from thirty or more years ago that a Marine EA6B participating in exercises in northern Nevada inadvertently shutdown the Los Angeles ATC system for a short period of time, causing panic on hundreds of civilian airliners awaiting LAX guidance. After that they were banned from using their jammers anywhere stateside.
    Those EA6Bs are still in service and have had many upgrades. I believe those plus the new EF-18 Growler have as good or better capabilities than Richag or Khibiny.
    But perhaps a bigger problem than Russian jamming is their cyber capabilities. Cyber is a major problem for us and for NATO.
    BTW on your reference to GAS, are you referring to Gallium Arsenide?

  41. turcopolier says:

    DNA tests for this increase in accuracy all the time. IMO you just want to be an Indian. My estranged sister was pissed at me for telling her she wasn’t one. pl

  42. Outrage Beyond says:

    So, you think the SU-24 shutting down the Aegis-equipped Donald Cook was less impressive than shutting down a Camry?
    Something apparently happened to the Donald Cook in the Black Sea. Was that science fiction?
    Was it science fiction when the US (allegedly) used a logic bomb in pipeline control software to blow up a Russian pipeline? That took place a number of years ago and technology keeps getting more complex, which results in new and unknown vulnerabilities.

  43. J says:

    TTG, Colonel,
    Here’s the 1959 article by Will Bohr
    Russian Jamming: The Electronic Iron Curtain
    April 1959 Popular Electronics

  44. mike says:

    Outrage Beyond –
    There are many possible reasons for what MAY have happened to the USS Cook. If one of the radars on the Cook did in fact shut down, it could have been deliberately shut off by the ship captain. Or perhaps the Cook went into a stealth mode that the Russian EW gear was not aware of?
    Or maybe it was a software glitch due to overload for the SU-24 flying directly overhead at low altitude. Something similar to what ‘visitor’ said below about HMS Coventry? How about an operator problem due to high stress from the constant close flyovers? In the past the Navy has fessed up to maintenance issues, software glitches, and operator training issues with Aegis.
    Or maybe it is all bragging by the Russian pilot and never happened.
    Lots of explanations available.

  45. mike says:

    Or perhaps you just do not want to be an Indian. Nothing wrong with it IMHO. Like Ms Warren, I never made a nickel off of it.

  46. charly says:

    I don’t see how purely “mechanical” weapons can have a back door but i think you are more right with the computer stuff. Always found it funny that ISIS doesn’t seem to use any of their Abrams.

  47. different clue says:

    Or classical ( Captain Kirk era) Star Fleet Communicators . . . which look a lot like the “flip phones” of today.

  48. different clue says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    Is that the gaming philosophy behind the game of Wei Qi / Go?

  49. Thirdeye says:

    I remember the MiG 29 incident as well. It was a definite cold shower that led to fiber optic circuit conversions and various other anti-EMP retrofits on American aircraft. We had been quite smug since the Yom Kippur War and the 1978 Lebanese War seemed to indicate a marked superiority of US over Soviet avionics. The Russians must have done something very serious under very trying economic and institutional conditions during the 1980s and 1990s to get where they are today. Not foreseeing it is entirely understandable. I also suspect that the looser constraints on electronics development with ground-based air defense contributed to their emphasis on such systems.
    I’ve read the opinion that the B-2 downing over Kosovo was a result of shortfalls in mission security practices that allowed anticipation of the flight path. But still, stealth vs state-of-the-art ground-based defense might not be a great bet.

  50. Thirdeye says:

    Then there are the Aleutian Geese, who strike out over landmark-free water until they make landfall in southern Oregon and northern California. Their little goose brains have no idea how badass they are.

  51. mike says:

    Thirdeye –
    I’m no expert on geese. The article I referenced stated two other avian navaids besides magnetic fields and landmarks. Those are:
    QUOTE A young bird imprints on the sun and stars to help orient it.ENDQUOTE
    QUOTE Most surprisingly, a bird’s beak helps contribute to its navigational ability. The beak helps birds determine their exact position. Some researchers think a bird can smell its way across a flyway.ENDQUOTE

  52. Andy says:

    “So, you think the SU-24 shutting down the Aegis-equipped Donald Cook was less impressive than shutting down a Camry?”
    No, I think the entire notion that the SU-24 shut down an Aegis cruiser is nothing more than Russian propaganda and they didn’t even get the fictional details correct.

  53. Andy says:

    The DNA tests are getting to be pretty impressive. I’ve done several as I’m adopted and trying to determine my genetic ethnic history and potentially find biological relatives. Turns out my genetic geographical lineage is very close to my adoptive family history, at least on the paternal side.
    Supposedly I have 2.5% neanderthal DNA. My wife thinks it should be higher.

  54. Ivan says:

    For every attempt to “idiot proof” software, nature comes up with two or more better idiots. I can relate to this as I.struggled for years on the factory floor to automate machines. Another factor is as noted by a computer way, if we already making software to the best of our abilities then whatever defeats is largely beyond our ability to resolve. After a certain level of complexity, software engineering is all about error control. Given that the defender has to be right all the time, while an attacker has to get it right only once, the odds stack up in favor of an adversary. Like everything thing else made by human effort software succumbs rapidly to diminishing returns.

  55. alba etie says:

    Third Eye
    I thought the US Air Force lost a F -117 over Kosovo and not a B 2 .
    And IIRC the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade was “mistakenly ” bombed in Belgrade the next night after the F 117 was shot down . There was some reporting in the alter MSM that the PRC had deployed a ‘ phase arrayed radar suite ” to that Embassy site – that may have helped down the F 117 ..

  56. sillybill says:

    I agree that EMP could be a factor in some of these incidents.
    To be effective on an aircraft’s limited power supply the offensive EM blast must be focused on the target. Perhaps they’ve made something like a maser that fits into an avionics pod, it pumps out very fast high power pulses, timed to efficiently interfere with info transfers on computerized systems. The idea is not to hack or spoof the computers (which of course would require intimate knowledge of the system being targeted at the moment) but to merely induce enough noise onto the buslines to cause a crash and reboot.
    In the Cook incident the Russian jet made repeated low level passes which would enable the pilot to effectively point such a beam on the ship.
    Ships have enough capacity to install Tempest like shielding once this threat is known but missiles and small jets are more constrained.
    The guidance electronics on an IR missile would of course be as susceptible as any other kind.
    Just me WAGing of course.

  57. user123 says:

    Well total speculation, right? My wild fantasy-guess, just for fun (radar isn’t my thing, at all):
    If an ECM incident with the Donald Cook really took place as described, I’d guess the ship shut down once it realized it was being played with. The equipment on the Su presumably found a way to fake out its observed position and speed. Would really need to do both of those things – modest uncertainty in apparent position and big uncertainty in apparent speed should be enough to create difficulties for a fire control system. Perhaps using different methods for tricking the position and speed sensing. The position, perhaps by playing games with rapidly varying the Su’s reflectivity via whatever’s in the pod, timing the variations vs the ship radar’s scanning. The trick would be to for the target to observe the radar’s scan pattern, which of course should be a semi random scan of the space around each target (e.g., the Su) to combine those scans into a precise position. For In the vertical dimension, there is a useful thing here — the reflection off the sea! Processing of this may allow the target to determine whether the scan is pointed directly at it, or whether the target’s real position off-center vs the radar beam). Alter reflectivity in response to this (more reflective when beam is off-center) (in a *very* fast analog kind of way) to increase uncertainty in target position as observed by the ship. Wild fantasy.
    This trick would only work a little bit, however. Will also need to fool the speed, otherwise the speed data can be used to correct the position data. How speed sensing works for radar is over my head, so I’m just going to wave my hands and say wacky crystal physics.
    The aegis is made to track large numbers of fast targets, right? It wouldn’t have much time to scan each target’s space, so perhaps some compromise in robustness is made to achieve that performance, which the ECM takes advantage of.
    So again, if this all is true, fun work for the radar people. Detective work to figure out how it’s done, and then clever software fix to defeat it.

  58. In the early 90s I collected a lot of information about several countries R&D efforts in battle management systems. The Aegis system is a prime example of these battle management systems. The way these systems work is that sensors, often radars, key in on specific signals in an effort to identify targets. Once the signals from the sensors matches what the system expects for a target, the system keys alarm systems or weapons systems into action. If the signals captured by the sensors does not match what the system’s database expects, an anomaly can occur. The anomaly can be simply a failure to trigger the associated alarm or weapons system or, perhaps, this unexpected series of signals may trigger a system error or system shutdown/reboot. This was the state of the art in the early 90s. R&D in countermeasures to these battle management systems began focusing on how to finesse the signals picked up by sensors into causing the systems to malfunction or, at least, perform in less than an optimal manner. In a way, this approach was similar to hackers discovering vulnerabilities in software in order to exploit that software. This, I believe, is how these various Russian REC systems work. It’s not simply a matter of trying to overpower the signals of the enemy systems, it’s a matter of engineering finesse.

  59. J,
    Thanks for that. I was intrigued by the illustration, but I didn’t look for the article. My oldest son is an amateur radio operator. When he was still living with us, we had several antennas in the back yard and one under the eaves of the house. He speaks Russian and has contacted other radio operators in Russia. He’s also still doing the morse code events with ARRL. It all reminds me of SF communications with the AN/PRC-74. We also got hold of a couple of old AN/GRC-109 sets to use in what we called guerrilla operations in urbanized terrain (GOUT). My radiomen said that 109 could “load a tin roof.” Both sets used the same burst device with a spring loaded magnetic tape.

  60. turcopolier says:

    I was trained to send and receive on the 109. It is true. It would load for the ground lobe just about any metal object big enough. It was developed by an SF enlisted man. I used it with a “bug,” a semi automatic side by side horizontal key that sent dots on one side and dashes on the other. It took skill. I worked for days on that before I could do that to the satisfaction of the training people at Bragg. A burst device would have made the thing much better as a defense against triangulation. pl

  61. pl,
    The only good thing about having a lieutenant as XO on a team was that he was always made to jump with the generator seat for the radio. It had a tendency to act as a weathervane and cause a twist in the risers. Now that the XO is an experienced WO, there’s no way he can be bullied into jumping with the seat. Although I doubt that seat is still in the inventory.
    That burst device was simple. It still required the message to be encoded on a one time pad, tri-graphed and manually pounded onto the tape. It took a lot of pressure to ensure it transferred to the tape. I think there’s a digital device that does all that now.
    My son now uses a paddle to send. It sounds like your bug. I found this curious article that distinguishes the differences among a bug, paddle and key. Perhaps it will interest you. I hope it doesn’t give you a flashback 😉

  62. turcopolier says:

    Much better idea IMO to have a WO as XO. I was never very good but the comms sergeants were always willing to let me play with it as part of the cross training process. pl

  63. Clonal Antibody says:

    You might find this interesting and relevant – This is from today – Multiple Russian Jets Buzz US Destroyer In “Unsafe” Encounter

    Of particular interest –

    According to the Free Beacon, the Russian aircraft operated without their electronic identifying transponders activated. Transponders on aircraft are monitored closely by air defense officers charged with protecting the ship and identifying hostile and friendly aircraft on radar. The Russian aircraft also failed to respond to several radio requests from the Porter to halt the overflights.

    Surprisingly, Russia denied the close encounter had ever occured. “There were no incidents of any kind on Feb. 10, related to flights by Russian military jets in the Black Sea near the U.S. Navy destroyer Porter,” Russian news agencies cited a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, as saying.

  64. Keith Harbaugh says:

    A 2017-04-29 article at Tass makes explicit claims for what the Khibiny did to
    the Cook‘s AEGIS combat system and/or AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System:
    “Russia’s cutting-edge weaponry capable of ‘blinding’ enemy’s army”
    Here is the relevant part of that article (with emphasis added):
    Khibiny EW system
    The Khibiny electronic warfare system was made operational in the Russian Armed Forces in 2013 to defend aircraft against air defense systems.
    The Khibiny EW system differs from the previous-generation technology by its increased power and intelligence capability. It can assist in aircraft weapons control, create a deceptive electronic environment and help break through an enemy’s layered air defenses.
    This is what happened with the US destroyer Donald Cook in 2014 when the warship’s air defense systems locked on a Russian Su-24 plane.
    The data appearing on the warship’s radars put the crew at a loss:
    the aircraft would now and then disappear from radar screens
    or suddenly change its location and speed
    or create electronic clones of additional targets
    while the destroyer’s information and weaponry control combat systems
    were actually disabled.

    Considering that the warship was in the Black Sea some 12,000 kilometers away from the US territory,
    it was not difficult to imagine what the destroyer’s crew felt.
    Now a new complex, the Khibiny-U, is in development for frontline aviation, in particular, for Su-30SM aircraft.
    My (Keith Harbaugh’s) thanks to “irf520” for pointing out that Tass article:

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