ukraine unmanned drone
© Sputnik / Press Service of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian FederationA Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicle shot down by a unit of Airborne troops in the Kiev region.
A retired general has reportedly warned that Washington is being outclassed in jamming technology

The US military has been surpassed by Russia and other potential adversaries in the field of electronic warfare, including jamming technology used to take down enemy weapons, a retired Pentagon official has reportedly lamented.

Speaking at the SOF Week conference in Tampa, Florida, retired US Army Lieutenant General Mike Nagata warned that Washington is "still falling behind" its rivals in electronic combat. "The gap between where the United States should be and where we are, in my judgment, continues to expand not everywhere, but in far too many places," Defense One quoted Nagata as saying.

Jamming technology has become an increasingly important battlefield tool, as evidenced by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Russian forces have been successful in sending HIMARS rockets and other US-made weaponry off course, using electronic signals to scramble their guidance systems.

In fact, General Valery Zaluzhny, then Ukraine's commander-in-chief, said in an interview last November that Russia had gained the upper hand. He called electronic warfare "the key to victory."

The Pentagon will need to be more creative in its use of radio technologies, especially space-based communications, to close the gap in the electronic warfare domain, said Nagata, who led US Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT) in the Middle East.

Russian jamming has reportedly reduced the accuracy rate of US-made Excalibur artillery shells to 6% from their normal level of 70%. Retired special operations officials told Defense One that Moscow had consistently invested in electromagnetic innovations for decades. While those advances were being made, the outlet said, US electronic-warfare efforts were focused on gathering intelligence in the Middle East.

Nagata said countering Russia's jamming prowess will require more risk-taking in efforts to advance satellite communications and other technologies. "The US government, particularly its leadership - from senior military officers all the way to civilian policymakers - we have to be willing to take more risk in experimenting with, adopting and employing new technologies. We will invite failure along the way, but if you're not willing to fail, you're not going to succeed."

The Pentagon has reportedly been exploring the use of narrower and stronger signal bands to overcome jamming attempts. However, Mark Cancian, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told Business Insider that "game changers" should not be expected. "The other side always develops countermeasures that reduce effectiveness," he said.