« Gorsuch will have to be lucky ... | Main | The Liberals' conversion to the support of States Rights ... »

09 February 2017


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Maybe the Americans build a back door into the F16 and the Russians got the key. Or they just hacked the board-computer.

Old Microbiologist

I have been following this with some delight for a while now. There are a lot more incidents than mentioned here. There have been several tests of the various systems both in the Black Sea and in Kaliningrad.

For example all air raffia control in Sweden was jammed last year: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/russia-blamed-bringing-down-swedish-air-traffic-control-test-electronic-warfare-capabilities-1554895

And again ins Syria: http://osnetdaily.com/2015/10/russian-jamming-system-blocks-all-nato-electronics-inside-bubble-600-km-in-diameter-over-syria/

And several time the same Donald Cook was played with near Kaliningrad: http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=80360

And of course in Ukraine: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-31146595

From what I can tell the US and its allies have failed to anticipate these developments having underestimated the Russians for years now. Russia has been somewhat sparing in its use of these systems I am sure want I get to keep the technology a mystery for as long as possible. Countermeasures will take perhaps over 10 years for the US to develop if they start on it today. Given our experiences with the very prolonged weapons development and acquisition process in the US maybe we won't ever have anything similar. Other interesting technologies only tested once against Chechens in 2012 is the portable EMP weapons. The one tested in 2012 was fired from a howitzer but I recall reading somewhere an EMP weapon was tested near Donetsk airport and shut down everything the Ukrainians have. I still vividly remember when the first MIG 29 defected weather US was surprised they were using tube radios and had no digital circuitry then they realize that Soviet aircraft were designed to operate in an EMP rich environment such as nuclear war. I do not know what the Russians are doing in this regard but suspect they have shifted to GAS based chips or similar which are resistant to EMP effects.

My last observation is that a very old WWII era low wavelength radar was used to shoot down a US stealth fighter in Kosovo. So I believe should we be insane enough to fight Russia we will be hoisted by our own petards. Very clearly we have underestimated Russian capabilities.


This brings to mind the sinking of the Coventry during the Falklands war.

From the detailed description of the battle, at some point the Coventry radar had locked on two Argentinian planes flying extremely low and extremely close together -- so close that the radar assumed just one plane was heading towards the ship. When the planes started separating for the final attack, the system was incapable of making sense of a target apparently growing in size, resulting in an error and a reset. By the time the system had rebooted, it was too late.

Could it be that those incidents with the Cook and the Iron Dome are actually computer bugs in the USA/Israeli systems deftly exploited by the Russian in conjunction with their newfangled electronic counter-measures?

Have the Aegis and Iron Dome been used in real, seriously adversarial conditions enough times so that their developers could weed out serious bugs and sources of system/computer crashes? Who knows? A thumb rule of software development is that to uncover the nastiest errors you need to let customers shake and misuse your system -- even the strongest testing suite is not enough. And the description of the Cook/Iron Dome incidents look uncannily like system errors bringing down or messing up with basic defensive capabilities.

And after all, haven't the past few years been rich in examples (e.g. Stuxnet) of cyberwarfare based on zero-day flaws and software faults, and aren't the Russians supposed to be always on the prowl for such exploits?


The Jack Aubree novels of Patrick O'Brian- like the Hornblower novels of C.S. Forrester - are based on the life of Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, and one of the cleverest sea warriors to ever set sail. Read one of his several biographies. Here is his epitaph:

'Here rests in his 85th year Thomas Cochrane Tenth Earl of Dundonald of Paisley and of Ochiltree in the Peerage of Scotland Marquess of Marenham in the Empire of Brazil GCB and Admiral of the Fleet who by his confidence and genius his science and extraordinary daring inspired by his heroic exertion in the cause of freedom and his splended services alike to his own country, Greece, Brazil, Chile and Peru achieved a name illustrious throughout the world for courage, patriotism and chivalry. Born Dec 14 1775. Died Oct 31 1860'

He was buried in Westminster Abbey. His story is that of a rebel who fought the bureacracy of the British Navy at every turn, and usually won.

Peter AU

At a couple of places in this video is a little on the Donald Cook incident. putins answer to the interviewer shortly before that section was cut made me think there was something in the story. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t42-71RpRgI
Then the Russian drone sent to Syria for testing which "inadvertently" fluttered into Israeli airspace.
Looking at videos like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tcTwW2_WrU (Tesla towers) makes me think the Soviet union put a lot into a line of pure scientific research that the US may not have followed, and Russia now has this scientific data base to use in the development of electronic warfare capabilities.

And then a month or two back, Russian MoD then Putin announced that Russian borders were fully protected from any threat from any country or combination of countries.



Like a number of you I have done a bit of sailing and therefore I am astonished that Patrck O'Brien (pen name) had never been to sea, pl

William Fitzgerald

His research of contemporary sources had to have been extraordinary and his prose is wonderful to read.



mike and IZ

I have said from the beginning that it was a phony coup. pl


The gap was due to a delay in the deployment of the GHWB which spent a couple months longer in maintenance than was originally planned.


Sounds right!
It is very, very, very likely that ANY "exported" armament, be it by the US, Russia or whoever else (French Exocets...) has one or more backdoors.


I spent many wonderful hours with Aubrey and Maturin. Imagine my surprise when I learned the novels are based on Lord Thomas Cochrane as was my beloved Hornblower. As I'm sure you already know that Frederick Maryatt was a midshipman (I think) with Cochrane. Of course, that sent me haring off on biographies of Cochrane and marveling at his life and doings. I think I might have a lingering case of hero worship where Cochrane is concerned.


@Outrage Beyond - Or it could be that the "Rock Solid Politics" blog post which makes these claims, without any evidence, is engaged in uninformed and idle speculation.

ECM locking down a FCS is equivalent to suggesting the Russians could sit off the coast of Florida and somehow remotely turn off the engines of two specific 1995 Toyota Camrys driving on I-95. It's science fiction or a movie McGuffin.

More generally, I'm surprised so many are taking this seriously. These are incredible claims with no evidentiary basis and they deserve skepticism at the very least.


Charly -

As an avid salmon fisherman here in the NW, I try to keep up with the latest on their migration habits. The latest theories I have read from the boffins at local University biological departments show it is more than magnetic fields. They also use temperature gradients and a sense of ocean currents to get within a 30 to 60 mile radius of home. Then their sense of smell takes over to get them to the correct river mouth, and from there to the right tributary, and eventually to their specific stream or creek of birth. So they do not depend on a single navigation system like we currently do. I was glad to read a report last year that the Navy is once more teaching celestial navigation at Annapolis.

Regarding birds, the below article from NG states that they use more than just magnetic fields also. Perhaps even landmark recognition like we do.



I've only read "Master and Commander." Like Jill, I loved the Hornblower novels and even the A&E TV series was quite good.


Old Microbiologist -

That article on the shutdown of the Swedish ATC system claims it was a cyber attack. Not jamming although they acknowledged problems attributed to Kaliningrad, whether that was intentional jamming or interference was not stated. I recall a story from thirty or more years ago that a Marine EA6B participating in exercises in northern Nevada inadvertently shutdown the Los Angeles ATC system for a short period of time, causing panic on hundreds of civilian airliners awaiting LAX guidance. After that they were banned from using their jammers anywhere stateside.

Those EA6Bs are still in service and have had many upgrades. I believe those plus the new EF-18 Growler have as good or better capabilities than Richag or Khibiny.

But perhaps a bigger problem than Russian jamming is their cyber capabilities. Cyber is a major problem for us and for NATO.

BTW on your reference to GAS, are you referring to Gallium Arsenide?



DNA tests for this increase in accuracy all the time. IMO you just want to be an Indian. My estranged sister was pissed at me for telling her she wasn't one. pl

Outrage Beyond

So, you think the SU-24 shutting down the Aegis-equipped Donald Cook was less impressive than shutting down a Camry?

Something apparently happened to the Donald Cook in the Black Sea. Was that science fiction?

Was it science fiction when the US (allegedly) used a logic bomb in pipeline control software to blow up a Russian pipeline? That took place a number of years ago and technology keeps getting more complex, which results in new and unknown vulnerabilities.


TTG, Colonel,

Here's the 1959 article by Will Bohr

Russian Jamming: The Electronic Iron Curtain
April 1959 Popular Electronics


Outrage Beyond -

There are many possible reasons for what MAY have happened to the USS Cook. If one of the radars on the Cook did in fact shut down, it could have been deliberately shut off by the ship captain. Or perhaps the Cook went into a stealth mode that the Russian EW gear was not aware of?

Or maybe it was a software glitch due to overload for the SU-24 flying directly overhead at low altitude. Something similar to what 'visitor' said below about HMS Coventry? How about an operator problem due to high stress from the constant close flyovers? In the past the Navy has fessed up to maintenance issues, software glitches, and operator training issues with Aegis.

Or maybe it is all bragging by the Russian pilot and never happened.
Lots of explanations available.


Or perhaps you just do not want to be an Indian. Nothing wrong with it IMHO. Like Ms Warren, I never made a nickel off of it.


I don't see how purely "mechanical" weapons can have a back door but i think you are more right with the computer stuff. Always found it funny that ISIS doesn't seem to use any of their Abrams.

different clue


Or classical ( Captain Kirk era) Star Fleet Communicators . . . which look a lot like the "flip phones" of today.

different clue

Babak Makkinejad,

Is that the gaming philosophy behind the game of Wei Qi / Go?


I remember the MiG 29 incident as well. It was a definite cold shower that led to fiber optic circuit conversions and various other anti-EMP retrofits on American aircraft. We had been quite smug since the Yom Kippur War and the 1978 Lebanese War seemed to indicate a marked superiority of US over Soviet avionics. The Russians must have done something very serious under very trying economic and institutional conditions during the 1980s and 1990s to get where they are today. Not foreseeing it is entirely understandable. I also suspect that the looser constraints on electronics development with ground-based air defense contributed to their emphasis on such systems.

I've read the opinion that the B-2 downing over Kosovo was a result of shortfalls in mission security practices that allowed anticipation of the flight path. But still, stealth vs state-of-the-art ground-based defense might not be a great bet.


Then there are the Aleutian Geese, who strike out over landmark-free water until they make landfall in southern Oregon and northern California. Their little goose brains have no idea how badass they are.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad