Ukraine reportedly counters Russian attack on Starlink satellite service

Russia’s electronic warfare falls short of Pentagon expectations, nonetheless the US Navy is moving an electronic warfare squadron to Germany

Shortly after the Russian war of aggression began, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Affairs Mykhailo Fedorov asked billionaire Elon Musk to unlock his Starlink satellite service. In the event of a breakdown in digital infrastructure, the military and civilian population should still have internet. In March, the system was probably the target of Russian electronic attacks, which were thwarted by Ukraine.

A small change in the program code of the control software was sufficient for this, explained the director for electronic warfare in the office of the US Department of Defence, Dave Tremper at the C4ISRNET conference on Wednesday in Washington. „From electronic warfare technologist’s perspective, that is fantastic… and how they did that was eye-watering to me“, Tremper commented. The United States therefore urgently needs to improve its own rapid response to such attacks, other conference participants said.

Number of Russian attacks remains manageable

The disruption of thousands of terminals of the broadband satellite service Ka-Sat, which began with the start of the war on 24 February, can probably also be traced back to a Russian cyber attack. In numerous European countries, modems belonging to the US company Viasat were manipulated by malware, as a result of which e.g. wind turbines in Germany were disconnected from the internet.

The US director of electronic warfare is surprised, however, that the number of Russian attacks remains manageable. The Pentagon had expected a much stronger showing from Russia. More activity, however, is to be expected, he said.

US military develops next-generation jamming platform

C4ISRNET is a media platform „for the military in the intelligence age“. Several US military strategists were invited to their conference, including Tad Clark, director of the Air Force’s Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Division. The brigadier general stressed that the US needs to develop new systems instead of „just buy upgraded versions of legacy systems“.

One example is the EC-37B aircraft under development, which the Air Force calls „Compass Call“. It is considered a next-generation tactical jamming platform and can disable enemy communications, radar and navigation systems from a great distance.

Presumably in response to the electronic attacks from Russia, the US military moved six Boeing EA-18G „Growlers“ and associated personnel to Spangdahlem Air Base in the Eifel region of Germany at the end of March. They belong to the Navy’s electronic attack squadron. The stationing close to the war zone in Europe serves to „enhance NATO’s collective defense posture and further increase air integration capabilities with our allied and partner nations“, Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby explained.

Image: Ukraine’s vice premier says thank you for Starlink devices (Twitter).

Autor: Matthias Monroy

Knowledge worker, activist, editor of the German civil rights journal Bürgerrechte & Polizei/CILIP.