The Russian army has raised a ground-based unit that can down unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) by jamming their signals.
Motherboard (MB) says in a report that Russian jammers have successfully downed drones in the past, but installing them on a mobile unit will be a first for Russia.
The radio electronic warfare unit (EW) of the Western Military District (ZVO) is reportedly based in Kursk. "The company is based on contract servicemen, sergeants and officers—specialists for combating drones with the help of electronic-warfare assets," MB quoted a statement by the Kremlin last week. Col. Alexander Vostrikov, the unit's commandant, called it "the special forces of electronic warfare".
A photograph issued with the statement shows a Krasukha jammer –a powerful radio emitter -- mounted on a heavy duty truck, said the MB. The system has been used in the Syrian front to protect Russian bases and forces.
It is not clear if the Russian unit also has the ability to take control of enemy drones after jamming them.
The Kremlin statement said that 20 such special units have been set up. "They also include air defence, aviation and sniper units of the air defense system," said the statement.
EW works by jamming communications and severing connectivity between enemy UAVs and their ground-based pilots, says the report.
MB noted that EW jammers could be powerful enough to bring down even stealth drones, but for them to work as advertised, they would have to be within 150km from the drone operator.
But the jammers, as they are now, may not pose any serious threat to the US Air Force. A former US drone-developer told the MB: "It would seem to be hard to do (bring down the drones) unless you knew where they were going to be and when."
To understand that challenge, currently drone pilots sitting in the US can fly drones in Afghanistan and fire missiles from them at enemy targets.