Electronic war invests the land battlefield

During the Zapad-2017 exercise, which was held in early September last year near the borders of Russia, Belarus, Finland and the Baltic countries, Russian electronic warfare units reached to jam the GPS and GSM systems of all border countries. This powerful and efficient jamming capability has also been observed in Syria and the Donbass.

Unlike past jamming systems, the Russian devices were land-based, not airborne or naval, and were intended to jam the electronic signals of ground units.

In fact, today, land forces depend more and more on their capabilities to receive and transmit information, whether via satellites or wireless networks. And this phenomenon will strengthen with the emergence of battlefield information systems, such as the one around which the French SCORPION program is built. 

However, as soon as the conflict moves into a heavier register, between technologically advanced states, this dependence on data exchanges can become a weakness, or even a means of neutralizing a force, thanks to jamming devices.

In this area, Russia, which has developed real virtuosity to exploit as best as possible all the weaknesses and inconsistencies of NATO forces, has developed new jamming devices mounted on land vehicles since 2005, and has continued to improve them since. 

Conversely, for Westerners, the need was much less obvious, particularly due to the nature of ongoing conflicts such as Afghanistan, Iraq or Mali, with a technologically weak adversary. As has been discussed several times here, France, like the majority of Western countries, had relegated the hypothesis of war between states, or high-intensity, to the history books. Since the annexation of Crimea by Russia, and of the Paracelles and Spratly Islands by China, this hypothesis has made a resounding return. This is how short-range anti-aircraft defense systems, extended-range artillery, and modernized armor have returned to the forces' equipment priorities. 

Obviously, jamming devices are part of these urgent needs, and the armies are now investing in this area, as are equipment capable of continuing to operate in an environment of intense interference. 

In the future, victory on the battlefield will be determined as much by physical as electromagnetic clashes.

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