Ukraine captures a Russian electronic warfare system. Why is this a jackpot for foreign intelligence?

This might be the biggest catch yet.
Ameya Paleja
The Krusakha-4 electronic warfare systemMinistry of Defence of the Russian Federation

Ukrainian forces have captured a part of the Russian Krasukha-4, electronic warfare system, a Twitter account documenting the weapons seized or destroyed by the Ukrainian forces during the conflict has reported.

Since the invasion of Ukraine has begun, Russian forces have been severely hit and have lost or abandoned several weapons in the Ukrainian territory. These include Russian tanks, munitions, and even drones. In what might be the biggest catch yet, Ukrainian forces have now found a part of the Russian electronic warfare (EW) system. 

Capabilities of the Krasukha-4 system

The Krasukha-4 is a two-part system consisting of an EW system and a command post module, mounted separately on two trucks. The system, which has been around for over a decade, is built by Concern Radio-Electronic Technologies (KRET), owned by Russian state group, Rostec, which makes specialized military products. 

The Krasukha-4 has an operational range of 186 miles and is designed to target radio-electronic systems of airborne systems such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as well as missile systems. The system can also counter airborne warning and control systems (AWACS) that U.S.-led allies of Ukraine use on their drones as well as spy satellites. Additionally, the mobile system can be deployed to jam ground-based large radars and shield Russian assets from surveillance systems. 

Deployment near Kyiv

Strategically, placing the system near the capital system of Kyiv makes sense as the protection offered would help in keeping the Russian advance a surprise. It could also be positioned to block surveillance being conducted by NATO forces, even as they have stopped flying over Ukrainian airspace.

Earlier this month, we had reported how U.S. Air Force was flying sorties in stealth mode using its F-35s stationed in Europe. Systems like the Krasukha are the perfect countermeasure if one does not know what is flying towards you and when. 

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What isn't clear is why Russian troops have abandoned the system. According to U.S. defense officials, Russia hasn't stepped up its EW game during the recent conflict and while it might be planning to do so in the future, the abandoning of its system provides a peek into its capabilities as well as shortcomings that were earlier unknown.

In the longer term, the shortcomings could be shared with NATO allies providing them a distinct advantage. 

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