When it comes to reacting to emerging threats, the Pentagon’s director for electromagnetic warfare suggested today that the US military’s electronic warfare organization should borrow a leaf from SpaceX. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said that Russia had blocked Starlink terminals in Ukraine for hours at a time after SpaceX shipped Starlink terminals to Ukraine in February in an apparent attempt to assist Ukraine to preserve its internet connection during the conflict with Russia.
Starlink was back up and running after a software upgrade, according to Musk, who added on March 25 that the constellation had “resisted all hacking & jamming efforts” in Ukraine. Assuming Musk — who is known for being a showboater in his public pronouncements — is giving an accurate image, a private company thwarting Russian EW efforts with software upgrades is the type of thing that makes Pentagon EW specialists sit up and take notice.
“That’s wonderful from the standpoint of an EW technologist. Dave Tremper, head of electronic warfare for the Pentagon’s procurement office, remarked, “It paradigm and how they executed that is sort of eyewatering to me.” “We need to be able to upgrade in the same manner that Starlink was able to when danger appeared. We need to be able to modify our electromagnetic posture quickly, and we need to be able to change what we’re attempting to achieve without sacrificing capabilities.”
Since Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea, the Russian military has utilized electronic warfare extensively in Ukraine’s Donbas area, frequently to great success, employing electromagnetic signals to disclose Ukrainian soldiers’ locations and disable equipment like drones. The present battle, on the other hand, maybe reveal the limitations of Russia’s EW capacity.
Russia’s continuous incursion deep into Ukraine, according to Tremper, is “a completely different situation” than previous operations, which were primarily limited to the border between Russia and disputed parts of Ukraine.
“I believe EW coordination and synchronization become quite tough when you’re attempting to reach to the middle of that country.” It becomes considerably more difficult to enter such urban environments,” he remarked. “And I believe what we’re seeing in Ukraine is a resistance, where there isn’t a reliance on [the electromagnetic spectrum].”
Another issue for Russia’s military has been a lack of training and expertise, which has been painfully evident even outside the realm of electronic warfare, with major embarrassments such as the sinking of the Russian warship Moskva, the Russian air force’s inability to achieve air superiority against an adversary with far fewer combat aircraft, and ongoing logistics failures that have resulted in memes depicting Ukrainian farmers driving away with their livestock.
Tremper stated, “I suppose we anticipated a lot larger EW presence.” “Which isn’t to say it isn’t there,” says the author, “but I believe the degree of coordination and synchronization of these sorts of activities is such that an untrained operator would have a difficult time carrying off such occurrences properly.”
The Air Force’s director of electromagnetic spectrum superiority, Brig. Gen. Tad Clark prefaced his remarks by admitting that he couldn’t go into details about what the US has learned about Russia’s electronic warfare threat from its actions in Ukraine.
He did point out, however, that such actions do more than just offer information about Russia’s technical capabilities; they also provide a picture of whether Russia has the financial resources to carry out the task. “We’re learning a lot about what Russia has been putting their money on, the complexity and dependability of their equipment, and their ability to execute that objective in a coordinated manner,” he added. “It provides us an idea of where particular nations are, where we are, where we need to be, and where we want to be,” says the author.