New Russian electronic warfare systems identified in Donbas

New Russian electronic warfare systems identified in Donbas

A brand-new electronic warfare system which the Russian Armed Forces brought into service this year has been identified in eastern Ukraine, along with several other modern systems, according to a study by DFRLab, published on the website Bellingcat.

According to the report, the OSCE monitoring group has recently published what is likely its most important discoveries related to Russian electronic warfare in the Donbas: sightings of four modern Russian EW systems, including the new RB109-A Bylina system, that was first deployed during the Zapad 2017 exercises and was only this year introduced to the Russian Armed Forces. 

Even though the OSCE SMM to Ukraine did not publish their findings until August 11, their short-range drone observed four Russian EW systems on July 28. It is unclear why the group did not publish the findings for two weeks.

"In non-government-controlled areas, on 28 July, an SMM mini-UAV spotted four distinct electronic warfare systems (a Leer-3 RB-341V, a 1L269 Krasukha-2 and RB-109A Bylina, and an anti-UAV system, Repellent-1) near Chornukhyne (64km south-west of Luhansk), all seen for the first time by the SMM," reads the statement.

Of the four Russian EW systems that the OSCE drone noted on July 28, one of them has been previously sighted in Ukraine - the Leer-3 - and the other three - the Krasukha-2, Bylina, and Repellent-1 - have not been officially observed before in eastern Ukraine.

Development on the Russian Repellent-1 concluded in 2016 and debuted at a defense expo that same year. This system is able to disable drones 30-35 kilometers away, with a focus on repelling swarm drone attacks.

"Russia's decision to deploy this state-of-the-art EW system makes sense in Ukraine in order to disable drones used by both the neutral OSCE monitors and the weaponized drones of the Ukrainian Armed Forces," reads the article.

The Krasukha-2 is an older system than the Repellent-1 and Bylina, having been in service with the Russian Armed Forces since 2014. This system can jam a number of targets, including drones, missiles, and early-warning aircraft radar, with a range of hundreds of kilometers.

The most modern of the EW systems observed by the OSCE, the Bylina was only rolled out in the last year and have not been observed in use outside of the Zapad-2017 military exercise. The system reportedly uses, or will use when fully developed, "artificial intelligence capacity based on machine learning" to prioritize and jam electronic signals.

The one system that the OSCE recently spotted that has previously been observed in the Donbas is the Leer-3, an advanced Russian system that can wreck havoc on telecommunication systems.

This system was photographed in Donetsk back in 2016, as reported by Ukraine's delegation to the OSCE. Numerous Orlan-10 drones, which are used in the Leer-3 complex, have been shot down in the skies over the Donbas, as detailed by the DFRLab. These drones are manufactured in St. Petersburg and not used by any branches of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, making it clear that their presence in Ukraine is a product of ongoing Russian involvement in the conflict.

Over the past four years, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine has observed and photographed a number of Russian electronic warfare systems in the conflict area. These systems are known to have targeted the SMM's drones, hindering the monitoring group's ability to observe violations of the Minsk accords.

The OSCE SMM to Ukraine has frequently reported that their drones have been jammed after observing flagrant violations of the Minsk accords in non-government-controlled territory. 


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