© Vitaly V. Kuzmin, Wikimedia CommonsThis is the Krasukha-4. It is a highly sophisticated electronic warfare system that is now being used by Russia military forces to cloak its actions in Syria from Nato, as well as from Islamic State and other rebel groups
Fed up of the West's indecisiveness on dealing with the ongoing situation in Syria, Russia is now providing direct military air support to Syria, and it is using electronic warfare to jam Islamic State's (IS) communications, as well as to prevent Nato from detecting what it is up to, according to an electronic warfare expert.

Electronic warfare is the ability to manipulate the electromagnetic spectrum in order to sense where enemy targets are so that you can attack the enemy first, or to prevent the enemy from attacking you. Examples of things you can do with electronic warfare include communications jamming, radar jamming, reconnaissance and countermeasures using infrared, radio and electro-optical frequencies.

On 5 October, Russian military Krasukha-4, its mobile, ground-based electronic warfare systems, were spotted in Syria. The Krasukha-4 is a broadband multifunctional jamming station that is based on a BAZ-6910-022 four-axle-chassis and is able to neutralise low-Earth orbit (LEO) spy satellites such as the US Lacrosse/Onyx series, airborne surveillance radars and radar-guided ordinance at ranges between 150km-300km.

Comment: Keep this in mind from Fort Russ, regarding the Kalibr missile system used in the Caspian Sea launch:
Until today, the officially declared range of the missile was 300 km, although the layout and appearance showed that it was not the limit. Today it was announced and DEMONSTRATED that the flight range of the missiles is 2600 km. ... Today was a demonstration, a confirmation of the real possibilities. In reality, and not in theory. ... Russia has a lot of weapons systems with a claimed range of 300-500 km. ... And what if the Russians tricked everyone?

According to David Stupples, a Professor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Director of Electronic Warfare at City University London, the Krasukha-4 is being used by the Russian military to deny IS surveillance information and radio communications.

Russia against all of Assad's enemies

Russia has long been supporting Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, supplying arms and training to Syrian forces. However, the issue is that Russia isn't just there to get rid of Isis, but all of Assad's enemies, which include all the rebel groups who oppose his rule.

Comment: Translation: Russia isn't just targeting one terrorist group; they are targeting all terrorist groups.

This contravenes with Nato's objective, which has been to also use electronic warfare to gather information about and hinder IS, and give it to friendly rebel forces. So, both Nato and Russia are now turning their state-of-the-art technologies against each other, on top of dealing with IS.

"Russia is aware that NATO surveillance assets are able to monitor all Syrian-based Russian military aircraft activity, including the rebel groups it is targeting, locations and weapons used. Some of these rebel groups are directly supported by the US and its allies which may result in Russia becoming in direct political conflict with Nato," Stupples writes in a piece for The Conversation.

"To avoid being spied on, Russia needs to blind the eyes and silence the ears of Nato reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering assets so its actions are not open to close scrutiny."

The problem is that the Krasukha-4 has already proved to be highly effective when used against Ukrainian forces in Donbas, according to Lt General Hodges, the commander of US Army Forces Europe.

"The quality of the electronic warfare [EW] capability that Russians have employed in eastern Ukraine, this is not something that you can create in the basement of your home," Hodges told Defense News in March.

"The Russians have continued to move forward with their EW modernisation. They have demonstrated the ability to completely shut down everything the Ukrainians are using in terms of communications."

A New Cold War?

Stupples says that the Krasukha-4 will definitely prove to be a thorn in the side of Nato: "Its surveillance systems will not only be able to monitor Nato aircraft movement over Syria but also the types, and from its intelligence it will know the frequencies used and signal characteristics present - Lacrosse satellites and AWACS operate in S-band, Sentinel (and similar) in X-band, and drones in J-band.

"Lacrosse/Onyx satellite positions are continually tracked by Russia. With this intelligence detail the Krasukha-4 can be programmed to engage in order to deny or disrupt Nato intelligence gathering."

On the plus side at least Nato forces have electronic counter counter measures (ECCM) that they can use against Russia, which will require Nato to dodge Russian jamming signals by jumping onto other frequencies, or pointing its antennas away from the jamming source.

"Of course, it would also be possible for Nato to jam the Russian surveillance radar, denying them of identification and positioning of Nato aircraft - but this would really ramp up the war of words with Vladimir Putin," Stupples concludes, adding that Russia's results using the Krasukha-4 against Nato will help it sell the system to other governments.

"We must also accept that the Krasukha-4 EW system is an essential part of the defence of Russian forces at the Latakia airfield in Syria and this must not be denied them."

Comment: Keep this in mind, from August 2015:
The commander of NATO forces in Europe said that the capabilities of Russian Radio/Radar Electronic Warfare (REW) divisions are limitless.

RIA Novosti published a translation of an article by military analytical portal Defence News, which reports on the capabilities of Russian troops of radio-electronic warfare. Military analysts report that Russian REW system is several times more superior than the US and can cause enormous damage to the US Army, as Americans do not have experience in dealing with it.

The commander of NATO forces in Europe, Ben Hodges added: "The US troops have never encountered Russian artillery and did not deal with serious REW system, jamming or information-gathering systems." According to him, Russian electronic warfare units have "exorbitant" capabilities.

The former head of the US Army REW Lori Bakhut on this occasion said: "Our main problem is that we have not fought in conditions of jammed communications for several decades, so we have no idea how to act in such a situation. We have no strategy and algorithm of actions, we are absolutely not prepared to conduct combat operations in the absence of communication. US does not have such extensive capabilities or REW what Russia has. We have a very good radio intelligence, and we can conduct wiretapping round the clock, but when it comes to shutting down enemy hardware - our abilities are not even one tenth of what Russian army can do."

According to the portal Defence News, the Pentagon decided to rectify the situation and launched a program that will make a difference, but the first results are expected only by 2023.