Russian EW or IW?
After approaching the ship, the Khibina systems turned off its [the destroyer’s] smart radar, combat control links, and data transfer systems – in a word, the entire Aegis, like we turn off a television with the push of a button on a remote.
OE Watch Commentary: Less than a month after Russia annexed Crimea, the US sent the destroyer Donald Cook into the Black Sea as a show of support to its East European allies. While on patrol the ship was harassed by a Russian SU-24 fighter, which made a number of close passes over the ship while refusing to acknowledge or communicate with the Americans. The provocation ended without incident when the Russian jet finally left the area. However, from an information warfare perspective, the battle had just begun.
While there was no question that the SU-24 performed a number of provocative passes, the Russian media soon began to circulate stories that the Russian aircraft, armed with the new Khibina EW system, had disabled all the electronic systems aboard the Donald Cook. When the story was first published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russian Newspaper) on 30 April, it claimed that once the SU-24 “closed with the destroyer, the Khibina turned off its radar, combat control circuits, and data transmission system – in short, they turned off the entire Aegis just like we turn off a television by pressing the button on the control panel.” This article went on to claim that the Russian EW attack had been so troubling to the Americans, that by the time the ship returned to its temporary base in Romania, “27 American sailors had written requests for release from the Navy.”
These exaggerated reports did not begin within Russia’s fringe media, but rather within Rossiyskaya Gazeta (www.rg.ru), which is a primary Kremlin-sponsored publication and serves as the official source of new legislation. Since the story was first published in late April, claims that the SU-24 had blinded the Donald Cook have been referred to and cited by numerous domestic and international publications. Similar assertions on the Internet have multiplied exponentially. A Google search under Дональд Кук РЭБ (Donald Cook Electronic Warfare) lists more than 17,500 hits, many of them referring to the original claims made by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (there are over 100,000 hits when searching in English).
Even though the incident took place more than seven months ago, the story continues to gain traction and has been repackaged and modified to fit other Russian information needs. For instance, as the second excerpt illustrates, another version of this story was republished by Rossiyskaya Gazeta in early November 2014. This version repeated many of the initial claims and went on to claim that this incident was “proof” that NATO and the US were now fearful of “approaching Russian waters again.”
Russia does indeed possess a growing EW capability, and the political and military leadership understand the importance of technical advances in this type of warfare. Their growing ability to blind or disrupt digital communications might help level the playing field when fighting against a superior conventional foe, but to continue to publicize a story which is patently false illustrates an equally robust ability within the realm of information operations. End OE Watch Commentary (Finch)
Source: Anton Valagin, “Что напугало американский эсминец” [What Frightened the American Destroyer], Rossiyskaya Gazeta Online, 30 April 2014.
The U.S. State Department has acknowledged that the crew of the American Destroyer Donald Cook turned out to be demoralized after an encounter with a Russian Su-24 bomber, which did not have bombs or missiles onboard. We have learned why it occurred this way and what else Russia has that is inspiring.
The American Destroyer Donald Cook entered the Black Sea on 10 April. On 12 April, a Russian Su-24 Frontal Aviation bomber conducted a flyby of the destroyer. On 14 April, after in general a run-of-the-mill incident – our aircraft do not very regularly close with the probable enemy’s ships in neutral waters, - the Pentagon issued an extremely emotional statement, having accused Russia of violating its own traditions and international treaties. It was mentioned that the crew of the Donald Cook was demoralized after encountering the bomber and information appeared in a number of mass media outlets that 27 American sailors had written requests for release from the Navy. Just what so frightened the destroyer’s crew?...
…It would seem that the appearance of that ship in the Black Sea must evoke shock and awe. That is how it turned out only not from that side. The Russian Su-24 Frontal Aviation bomber that flew to the Donald Cook did not have bombs or missiles onboard. One canister with the Khibin electronic warfare complex was suspended under the fuselage. Have closed with the destroyer, the Khibins turned off its radar, combat control circuits, and data transmission system – in short, they turned off the entire Aegis just like we turn off a television by pressing the button on the control panel. After this, the Su-24 simulated a missile launch at the blind and deaf ship. Later, it happened once again, and again – a total of 12 times.
When the bomber flew away, the Donald Cook hastily headed for a Romanian port to put its nerves in order. It has not approached Russian waters since then. The Americans are accustomed to using missiles to grind down poorly armed detachments of any sort of desert partisans from afar, while being in total safety. But they do not play if it doesn’t turn out that way….
Source: Anton Valagin, “Почему НАТО боится русских учений” [Why NATO Fears Russian Exercises], Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 3 November 2014. http://www.rg.ru/2014/11/03/uchenia-site.html
In peacetime, every military drains its soul in exercises. Moreover, such maneuvers by Russian military forces causes a nervous reaction, more like fear, from NATO. At times, not only are government officials and the press scared, but also professional military troops. We found out why this is happening.
The encounter of a Russian bomber with the U.S. Navy destroyer DONALD COOK is worthy of a place in military training manuals as an example of an effective psychological attack. On April 12, an unarmed SU-24, which took off from Shagol (Chelyabinsk) Airbase, was flying over the Black Sea and approached the new American combatant ship, which is armed with cruise missiles and the latest “Aegis” command and control system. After the encounter, DONALD COOK quickly headed to the Romanian port of Constanța where, according to media reports, 27 sailors from the destroyer’s crew requested to be released from service. On April 14, the Pentagon released an emotional statement in which the SU-24 flight was called a violation of military traditions and international agreements.
What really upset the Americans? The Aegis system, with which the destroyer is equipped, is the latest word in technology in terms of detecting and destroying seaborne and airborne targets. It brings together the radars, fire control systems, and missiles of all ships equipped with it into a single network resembling a naval internet. Aegis radars can simultaneously track and target missiles at hundreds of targets located thousands of kilometers away. Altogether, a magnificent system.
But in place of bombs or missiles, the SU-24s approaching DONALD COOK carried a container with a Khibina radio-electronic warfare system. After approaching the ship, the Khibina systems turned off its [the destroyer’s] smart radar, combat control links, and data transfer systems – in a word, the entire Aegis, like we turn off a television with the push of a button on a remote. Afterwards, the fighter-bombers conducted a simulated missile attack on the blind and deaf destroyer….
DONALD COOK never approached Russian waters again. Nor did NATO ships that relieved it in the Black Sea.