WASHINGTON — Ukrainian forces are training to use electronic jamming equipment provided by the U.S. in their bloody battle against Russia.
A senior U.S. defense official, speaking May 18 on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive issues, confirmed electronic warfare instruction was underway. No details were provided on the curriculum or the gear itself.
“We told you that we were going to give the Ukrainians some electronic jamming equipment,” the official said. “There is training going on with a very small number of Ukrainian soldiers on that equipment. That’s ongoing, as well. So that’s happening.”
Hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers have either completed or are undergoing training on Western artillery, air defense radar systems, loitering drones armed with explosives, and more, Defense News reported May 9, citing Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.
The comments come roughly two weeks after the Department of Defense announced it would send EW kit to Eastern Europe as part of a $150 million security assistance package. Also included in that drawdown, the ninth for Ukraine since August, were 25,000 artillery rounds, radar systems and field equipment and spares.
It’s the first time the U.S. gave electronic jamming equipment to Ukraine since Russia rolled into the country Feb. 24. A senior defense official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, on May 9 said the gear would allow the Ukrainians to operate more effectively in a “very condensed geographic area.”
Modern warfare often centers on the fight for control of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is relied upon to communicate and coordinate with allies and monitor and suppress adversaries. As the digital footprints of militaries grow, so does the appeal of EW.
The U.S. years ago began supplying Ukraine with more-modern radios to shield communications and beat back jamming attempts. The Pentagon in early April said a $300 million batch of aid bound for Ukraine would include secure communications systems and similar equipment.
The U.S. has provided more than $6.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since 2014, with a bulk of that made since Russia kicked off its latest invasion. The training programs, Kirby said last month, complement the stream of materiel.
“These soldiers are eager to learn these new skills, but they’re also eager to apply those new skills in the conflict,” he said.
Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.