Russians using information operations to hide the weakness of its forces

Does Russia have a “mystery weapon” capable of threatening the entire U.S. Navy?

Russian media have claimed that the Russian military has developed technology capable of neutralizing an adversary’s aircraft, ships and missiles within a 5,000-kilometer radius. The claim, first reported by Vesti News on April 14, said a Russian warplane had successfully tested the electronic jamming device on a U.S. warship, the destroyer Donald Cook in the Black Sea.

The report, which used a mock-up simulation to demonstrate the exercise, also quoted anonymous Russian sources claiming the technology could wipe out the entire U.S. Navy.

While the USS Donald Cook really was approached by a Russian jet in the Black Sea in 2014, U.S. officials say the details of the encounter were not accurately presented in the Vesti report and that most of the facts presented there are fabricated. American analysts suggest Russian officials may have made up the story to disguise the weakness of their own military.

“Russia’s claims about harming the Donald Cook are false,” said Jorge Benitez, director of NATOSource and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. “The Russian fighter jet was unarmed and there is no evidence that it damaged the U.S. ship in any way.”

During the incident, a Russian Su-24 buzzed the USS Donald Cook within 300 meters for some 90 minutes. A video shot from the ship shows that the Russian aircraft had neither external weapons hanging under the wings or fuselage, nor any external pods essential to house the electronics that Vesti claims it used against the Cook.

The U.S. Navy also says there was no damage to the destroyer. In an email response to VOA's website, the Navy wrote, that on April 12, 2014, a Russian SU-24 indeed “made numerous close-range and low altitude passes” over the USS Donald Cook in international waters in the Black Sea.

The Navy described the Russian action as “unsafe and unprofessional” adding that “the [the Russian] aircraft did not respond to multiple queries from the Donald Cook. The event ended without incident after approximately 90 minutes, and the ship continued without impact on its original tasking.”

The media reports claimed that Russian specialists had an “unbelievable breakthrough” in electronic warfare. The complex “Khibiny,” the report claimed, uses “powerful electronic waves to deactivate the ship's systems.”

It also said the new technology is capable of creating electronic jamming domes over their command and control facilities, bases and critical infrastructure making them invisible on radar screens.
This appears to be Russian science fantasy to cover the fact that it is still relying on mostly Soviet-era technology.   Its use of its one carrier in its Syria operations has to have been an embarrassment.  The Russians also lost a spy ship in recent days after it collided with a freighter carrying livestock.  The freighter went on its way and the Russian ship sank.  The Russian economy has been hurt by the sanctions regime imposed after its Ukraine aggression and the drop in the price of oil.  It is now seeing some of its gas trade with Europe impacted by US LNG shipments.

The Russians need to rethink their dreams of reinstating Soviet dominance over their region and work at improving relations with the West.  The Russian people would be much better off if their government opened doors to commerce rather than tried to bully its neighbors.


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