In conflict zones from Europe to the Middle East, the electromagnetic spectrum has assumed a central place on the modern battlefield. In eastern Ukraine, Russian-backed forces have used sophisticated jamming and interception tactics to undermine communications and surveillance drones. And after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet over the Turkish-Syrian border, Russia deployed its S-400 air defense system, whose advanced surveillance and engagement radar can guide missiles to targets nearly 400 kilometers away. The jammers in Ukraine and the radar in Syria represent two sides of the same technology — a field the United States is now losing its edge in, according to Bryan Clark and Mark Gunzinger from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
In a speech yesterday at the Association of Old Crows symposium, Clark laid out a series of scenarios to describe how the United States, Russia, and others will wage electronic warfare in the next decade and beyond. It was a preview to a report, “Winning the Airwaves: Regaining America’s Dominance in the Electromagnetic Spectrum,” that he wrote with Gunzinger and unveiled today alongside lawmakers and unveiled today at the Capitol building.
Here’s a brief glimpse of how Clark and Gunzinger say the electromagnetic spectrum will change warfare:
Drones and decoys: Useful for more than loitering over a target and lobbing Hellfire missiles, drones will be used to launch jamming or hacking attacks at short distances. (An example would be this drone that does penetration testing.)
The key is the unmanned aircraft’s ability to sneak up on an adversary. The closer you are physically to the target, the less…