Russia has sent jamming equipment to Syria that could blind NATO pilots in a move that is bound to further escalate the stand-off in the Middle East.
The sophisticated system can disrupt surveillance by drones, satellites or western early warning aircraft.
US officials have confirmed the presence of the Krasukha-4 system which has been spotted at a Syrian airfield being used by Russian fighter jets
The Australian reports:
It has a range of 300km, can also disrupt the systems of radar-guided missiles and would allow Russia to enforce a no-fly zone over President Assad’s military.
Russian weaponry in Syria includes the rapid fire BM-30 rocket systems as the Kremlin prepares to back a ground offensive by regime forces. President Putin’s stated aim is to take on Islamic State, although the vast majority of Russian air strikes so far have been aimed at anti-Assad rebel groups, some of them backed by the West.
However, the deployment of the jamming equipment could directly affect NATO. Russia’s electronic warfare expertise is regarded as one of its foremost military strengths — an area where it matches and, in some cases, exceeds western know-how.
The primary target of the jammer is western technology such as airborne radar of the kind that rebel groups do not possess. However, it could also be used to disrupt satellite phone systems used by rebel groups.
Brigadier Ben Barry, an expert in land warfare at the International Institute For Strategic Studies, said that deployment of jamming systems would be seen as “unhelpful by the US and by Turkey with some anxiety”. The revelations came after a third day of aerial confrontations between Turkish jets and Russian-made warplanes used by both Russia and the Syrian regime.