Mi-35s and Ka-52s use directional pods aimed at Ukrainian radars

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According to information from Ukrainian sources on the front, Russian attack helicopter groups are using new methods to counter Ukrainian targeting radars. The Ka-52 and Mi-35 helicopters are equipped with directional pods aimed at a guidance radar.

Photo credit: Rosoboronexport

This information was officially published in the latest report of September 4 of this year by the Royal United Services Institute [RUSI]. Authors Dr Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds do an in-depth analysis entitled ‘Stormbreak: Fighting Through Russian Defenses in Ukraine’s 2023 Offensive’.

The report elucidates with increased precision the Electronic Warfare [EW] techniques employed by the Russian Air Force against Ukrainian establishments. The Ukrainian military has observed a correlation between the lifting of GPS jamming within Russian formations and subsequent aviation assaults, signifying the necessity for meticulous navigation to synchronize these operations. This is particularly pertinent as both militaries are utilizing similar platforms, a fact underscored by the report’s authors.

The use of Russian helicopters currently occurs very close to the front line. This, the report says, is one of the problems for Russian aviation. The reason: the closer the helicopters are to the front, the closer to the front are the ground headquarters and points for their refueling or arming. In this way, they [points] come within the range of Ukrainian artillery and become vulnerable.

Photo credit: Russian MoD

How do Russian directional pods work?

The directional pods used by Russian helicopters are capable of emitting jamming signals in specific directions, allowing them to selectively target enemy radars while minimizing the risk of interfering with friendly systems.

These pods use advanced electronic scanning techniques to identify and locate enemy radar emissions. Once a radar signal is detected, the capsule’s jamming system can quickly analyze its frequency, modulation, and other characteristics to generate an appropriate jamming response.

Photo credit: Rosoboronexport

This targeted approach helps maximize jamming effectiveness while minimizing the chances of inadvertently disrupting friendly radar systems or communication channels.

The basic principle of their operation is to overwhelm the radar receiver with a high-intensity signal, effectively rendering it unable to accurately detect and track targets. By emitting signals on the same frequency as enemy radar, the pods can create interference and confusion, making it difficult for the radar operator to distinguish true targets from false returns.

Other applications of the Russian directional pods

In addition to jamming, Russian radar homing pods can use other electronic warfare techniques to fool enemy radars. For example, they can emit false radar signals, known as decoys or false targets, to confuse enemy radar tracking algorithms.

Photo credit: Special-Ops

By simulating the presence of multiple targets or generating a phantom echo, these pods can create a chaotic radar environment, making it challenging for the enemy to accurately identify and engage real targets.

This deception capability adds another layer of complexity to enemy radar operations, further reducing their effectiveness and increasing the survivability of Russian helicopters.

Upgrade

In addition, the Russian EW guidance pods used by Ka-52 and Mi-35 helicopters are designed to be highly adaptable and upgradeable. These may include advanced signal processing algorithms and frequency hopping techniques to counter evolving enemy radar technologies.

By continuously analyzing and adapting to enemy radar emissions, these pods can maintain their effectiveness even against sophisticated radar systems.

The ability to upgrade the pods with new software and hardware ensures they remain a powerful electronic warfare tool capable of countering emerging threats on the modern battlefield.

Photo credit: Twitter

Ukrainian countermeasures

Although the Ukrainian armed forces have the geolocation of the Russian helicopters’ refueling points and weapons, the Ukrainian side is having difficulties.

The Royal United Services Institute [RUSI] articulates a complex predicament, stating that “the dearth of tactical air defenses within the Ukrainian arsenal, combined with the persistently low altitudes maintained by these assets, and the fleeting window of time during which they are operational, collectively contribute to the formidable challenge of countering an aggressive aviation assault.”

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