- US Air National Guard
- Russia has reportedly deployed electronic warfare equipment that is successfully jamming small US military surveillance drones.
- Department of Defense officials speaking to NBC News did not confirm if they lost any of the drones to crashes.
- One official did say that the jamming is having an operational impact on military operations in Syria.
- Russian electronic warfare tactics have been observed in past war zones like Ukraine and have recently shown signs of getting more advanced.
The Russian military has deployed jamming tactics against US drones that have affected the US military’s ability to operate in the region, NBC News reports.
US officials told NBC News that the Russian military has been jamming smaller US drones. The jamming is focused on the GPS systems of drones, which can result in things like the operators not knowing where the drone currently is, to more extreme results like crashes.
Department of Defense officials speaking to NBC News did not confirm if they lost any of the drones to crashes as a result of the jamming, but one official did say that the jamming is having an operational impact on military operations in Syria.
The drones that have been targeted are smaller surveillance drones, and not the larger ones with strike capability like the MQ-1 Predator or the MQ-9 Reaper, according to NBC News. US military drones are encrypted and are supposed to have defenses against electronic counter measures, suggesting that Russian capabilities are more advanced than previously thought.
President Donald Trump is debating how the US will respond to Saturday’s alleged chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Douma.
Russian electronic warfare capability has long been observed by the West, especially since Russia annexed Crimea and supported the continuation of a war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
Russian jamming equipment has been documented on the frontline on numerous occasions, and other elements of their electronic warfare capabilities have also been recorded.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, an international security organization that has been monitoring the conflict in Ukraine, has also reported that the drones they use to monitor the frontline have been jammed multiple times.
Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, then the commanding general for US Army Europe, said in in 2016 that he has seen Russian “electronic warfare capability at a tactical level that we absolutely don’t have.”
Russia’s ally in Syria, Iran, also reportedly has hacking capabilities. In 2011 it claimed that it hacked into a US RQ-170 Sentinel and forced it to land after it gained access to its GPS.