Are Norwegian F-35s at risk because of the Russian EW system?
PANAGYURISHTE, BM, ($1=8.31 krones) – A few years ago, Norway decided to upgrade its F-16 air fleet with fifth-generation F-35 fighters. Fifty-two stealth fighters guard Norwegian airspace and are part of NATO forces in the region and Europe.
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Norway borders Russia on both land and water. The land border furrow is nearly 196 km long (between Sør-Varanger, Norway, and Pechengsky District, Russia), while the sea border is 23 km long (Varangerfjord). According to Russian sources, Moscow has deployed a Murmansk-BN electronic warfare system near the Norwegian-Finnish border.
Murmansk-BN is a relatively new system for electronic warfare. It was first introduced nearly five years ago. It characterizes by the fact that the designers and developers of the system themselves claim that it was made with a single purpose – to influence the high-frequency global communication system of the “West,” and its action directs against U.S. and NATO weapons technologies. However, the scope has not yet been confirmed. According to Western sources, the range of the system is 3,000 km; according to Russians, it is between 5,000 and 8,000 km. Murmansk-BN is part of Russia’s entire e-war strategic system.
Russian military experts say Marmansk-BN is an intelligent and appropriate system that can quickly suppress the F-35 fighter’s communications capabilities, including the fighter’s communications with U.S. satellites, from which it draws information. According to some, such a version of lost communication leaves the United States and NATO without “eyes and ears” and calls into question the implementation of the assigned combat tasks.
Experts say the F-35 will be able to fly and use its avionics but at its total capacity. Suppression of electronic systems by Murmansk-BN may have led to the “burning” of some functions of the fire control system, making part of the armament of the F-35 unusable. Problems with navigation, markings, targets, miscalculations, and even lack of interaction in flight as part of a group are other damage that Murmansk-BN can cause.
The deployment of 52 F-35 fighters in Norway is an excellent opportunity for the Russian military to test the capabilities of its electronic warfare system. The United States and Norway should be concerned because Russia is making significant progress in this area of military development, something the United States has acknowledged.
According to a Pentagon report on the state of U.S. troops in electronic warfare and Russia and China, respectively, the U.S. Government Accountability Bureau (GAO) says the United States is losing control in this area.
“The U.S. risks losing control of the battlefield if it doesn’t control the electromagnetic spectrum, according to the Defense Department. This range of frequencies is critical for communications, navigation, weapons, and more. Russian electromagnetic warfare forces, described by the Defense Intelligence Agency as “world-class,” have demonstrated effectiveness in real-world applications against U.S. and foreign militaries. China also has advanced capabilities,” the report said.
Of course, the GAO outlines recommendations on what the U.S. military should do to avoid losing ground, but that’s not so important in this case. More importantly, the U.S. State Department considers Russia’s progress to be real because it has developed effective natural systems in the electromagnetic spectrum to counter the world, specifically U.S. weapons systems.
In this situation, the following question arises: how effective are the electronic warfare systems installed in U.S. fighters, particularly in the F-35? The Department of Defense claims that in the period 2013 and 2017, they developed two strategies for developing electronic warfare systems. Still, the GAO report shows that they have not implemented, which is very worrying. The right people have not been recruited, and radiofrequency operations have not integrated into the Ministry of Defense itself. Also, some critical structures have not been reformed, and a process has not been developed to oversee all these actions are another reason for the backlog.
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