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Russia deploys electronic warfare equipment in Northern Territories

Russia has deployed the most advanced electronic warfare equipment in the Northern Territories, according to an analysis performed by the Ministry of Defense, the Sankei Shimbun learned on Feb. 19. The Russian military has a wealth of real-world experience harnessing cutting-edge electronic warfare equipment that uses electromagnetic waves. The equipment Russia has set up in the Northern Territories has already been proven to possess the world’s most precise strike capabilities in Russia’s ongoing military intervention in Ukraine since 2014. This development reveals Russia’s military buildup in the Northern Territories while negotiations between the Japanese and Russian governments on the Northern Territories remain stalled.


The Russian Army’s 18th Machine Gun Artillery Division is stationed on the islands of Etorofu and Kunashiri in the Northern Territories. Recently, Russia deployed the Orlan 10, a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and the Leer 3, a ground-based electronic warfare system, on the two islands. The entire system consists of three small UAVs and one command vehicle equipped with an electronic warfare system.


This is the first time that the Defense Ministry has included small UAVs in its quarterly document on the Russian military, which includes a list of the main Russian military equipment on the islands of Etorofu and Kunashiri. Small drones, along with the command vehicle, are deemed to have been deployed to both islands by 2017.


The small UAVs can detect radio wave sources, such as the communications devices of an enemy command center and soldiers’ cell phones on the front line, and send the information to the command vehicle. The command vehicle can then analyze the location of the radio sources based on the direction and the characteristics of the radio signals, convert the location information into latitude and longitude coordinate data, and transmit that data to firepower units, such as artillery, to enable precise attacks.


Even the U.S. military does not have the equipment or expertise to combine firepower combat and electronic warfare, which involves capturing and analyzing radio waves. Only the Russian military has demonstrated it can ascertain the faint signals of cell phones and immediately targeting them for attack.


The Russian military has deployed small drones and command vehicles in its military interventions in Ukraine and Syria. In Ukraine, the Russian military allegedly sent false messages to the cell phones of Ukraine soldiers to gain an operational advantage. At the time, Ukraine’s cell phones were second generation (2G), the communications standard used in Japan in the 1990s. Even though the same strategy is not currently applicable to 4G and 5G phones, which have stricter security measures, the Russian military is believed to be improving its ability to circumvent the security measures.

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