The commander of US Special Operations complained during a recent speech in Florida that electronic weapons are “disabling” US aircraft flying in Syrian airspace.
“upright now in Syria we are operating in the most aggressive [electronic warfare] environment on the planet from our adversaries,” General Raymond Thomas said during a speaking engagement at the US Geospatial Intelligence Foundation on Tuesday.
“They are testing us everyday, knocking our communications down, disabling our EC-130s, etc.” the general said, referring to the US Air Force’s Compass Call electronic attack aircraft, Breaking Defense reported. Some reporters attending the event heard the general say AC-130. These gunships also used in US special ops and bear at least one electronic warfare officer on their flight crew lists, according to a US Air Force fact sheet.
It’s not clear who precisely Thomas meant when he said “enemies,” but Russia is known to bear developed advanced EW capabilities, according to EW specialist Lauri Buckhout, a retired US Army colonel. “The Russians bear redone and reengineered their entire EW fleet in the last 20 years… The Russians establish in millions on upgrades after Georgia,” the veteran told Breaking Defense, in reference to the 2008 clash in the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions, which Georgia claims as section of its territory but whose self-determination Russia supports.
“They’ve ended up with killer capabilities, jamming in a multitude of frequencies for hundreds of kilometers,” Buckhout said, clarifying that there are other vulnerabilities in US systems that Russian electronic weapons could target, too.
Instead of jamming an EC-130 in a head-to-head fashion, there are easier ways to degrade US capabilities, according to Buckhout. The specialist explained, “The problem the EC-130s bear is that, while they are jamming, the crews aren’t doing much else… they could bear gone after the [position, navigation and timing equipment] or the comms.”
Russian forces “know all of our vulnerabilities,” the retired US colonel added.
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