February 24, 2022:
Russia claims one of the decisive systems it has deployed against Ukraine since late 2021, for a threatened invasion, are their latest EW (Electronic Warfare) and ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) equipment. This includes the latest version of Krasukha-4. Ukraine has six years of experience with the latest Russian EW/ELINT systems, including Krasukha-4. Since 2015 NATO has been sending teams of technical experts to help Ukraine with the EW threat, and this allowed NATO to get a close look at the new Russian gear. Some of it was impressive, and a definite upgrade to the systems Russia used during the Cold War. NATO was forced to adapt to those Cold War systems, which were a lot more effective against unprepared NATO forces. Since the 1990s, new communications tech appeared, which neutralized or limited the effectiveness of Russia EW equipment. Ukraine also adapted, as they were regularly exposed to Russian jamming after 2014.
New Russian EW gear has received some harsh reviews from users. At the end of 2020 Armenia blamed its defeat in a six-week war with Azerbaijan on Russian electronic warfare equipment purchased in 2017 for $42 million. Armenia received the truck mounted Krasukha-4 ELINT/Jammer system that was supposed to keep hostile aircraft away from Armenian troops. It didn’t work, even though Russia sent an updated Krasukha-4 during the war and claims that the upgraded Krasukha-4 was responsible for the loss of several Turkish Bayraktar UAVs. While the latest Krasukha-4 was better, it wasn’t enough.
Russia also sent Krasukha-4 to Syria in 2017, where it was used mainly for ELINT. The Turkish UAV is similar to the American Predator and has been very successful in Syria, northern Iraq and Libya. The Krasukha-4 used its passive monitoring systems in Syria but not the jammer, which has a range of 250 kilometers and can disrupt most electronic signals, including datalinks between Bayraktar UAV and their controllers. Unlike many UAVs, the Bayraktar flight control software is not capable of automatically having the UAV return to base if the control signal is lost. In Syria there were no hostile Turkish UAVs to deal with but in Libya there were but Russia did not use Krasukha-4 to degrade the performance of the Turkish UAVs.
The Krasukha-4 also disrupted civilian navigation systems, which are not built with any resistance to this sort of thing. Modern military systems have been designed to cope with Krasukha-4, while Russia continues insist that the latest version really does work. The latest Krasukha-4 upgrade, which is now on the Ukrainian border, is seen by Russia as a key to success if Russian forces do invade. The questionable performance of Krasukha-4 is one of many reasons why Ukrainians do not believe Russia will invade.