An underlying driver in the reform of the Russian Armed Forces, first initiated in the fall of 2009, has proved to be the adoption and adaption of “command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance” (C4ISR) capabilities to offer conventional options against a high-technology adversary.
A key factor in the introduction of a Russian variant of the concept of network-centric warfare is the complete overhaul and modernization of its Electronic Warfare (Radioelektronnaya Borba—EW) inventory (see EDM, April 17, May 17). While considerable progress was made in this effort during 2009–2014, advances in Russian C4ISR and EW were exponentially boosted following Russia’s interventions in Ukraine and Syria.
Not only have Russian pilots and various specialists benefitted from the combat experience in Syria, but research and development (R&D) into EW has reaped massive rewards from the opportunity to trial and test an array of advanced systems in a complex operational warfighting environment. In this process, one of the chief benefactors has been the Aerospace Forces (Vozdushno Kosmicheskikh Sil—VKS), similarly tried and tested in combat over the past three years in operations over Syria.
And now, evidence has emerged of a technological breakthrough for Russian EW capability that, when applied to airpower, offers a de facto stealth capability for some of its most modern fighter platforms (Pravda-tv.ru, June 9)
The main proponents of EW are the Ground Forces, and EW units exist throughout the Russian army’s order of battle—from strategic to tactical levels—ranging from full EW brigades to companies in battalion echelons. EW centers are also found in the navy and the VKS, the latter of which having been at the forefront of military operations in Syria.
Numerous EW assets have been moved to Syria for testing and to experiment with boosting air defenses for Russian forces deployed in theater as well as to build local anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capability.
Vital testing in this context relates to the Khibiniy EW complex, designed for the latest Sukhoi fighters and fighter-bombers. This breakthrough in EW technology promises better protection for these VKS platforms against enemy radars and missiles. The nature of the breakthrough lies in adopting a conceptual use of the advanced system to afford protection for an air grouping. (end of excerpt)
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