ORLANDO — The U.S. is gaining valuable insights about the performance of its technologies amid electronic interference as Ukrainian troops use them on the front lines, according to one official.

Washington and other governments have committed billions of dollars of security aid to Ukraine, including long-range missiles, armored vehicles and secure communication devices. The jamming and spoofing that blankets fighting in Eastern Europe offers a trial against Russian tools rarely seen in action.

Michael Monteleone, the director of the Army’s Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing/Space Cross-Functional Team, on May 5 told reporters the conflict is a “huge learning experience for us.”

“The global community has shared a lot of our technology, our weapons systems, our command-and-control systems and others, with the Ukrainians,” he said on the sidelines of the GEOINT conference in Florida. “You’re seeing that being used in real time, and it is a source of feedback.”

Monteleone’s cross-functional team, expected to shift its focus to so-called all-domain sensing in the coming months, is tasked with improving soldier access to critical sources of situational awareness, including where they are, where they are headed and when they will arrive.

Digital harassment can render such information useless.

“Even early in the war, we learned what happened when GPS just didn’t exist, and how the Ukrainian soldiers dealt with that, and how the Russian soldiers dealt with that,” Monteleone said.

The Defense Department’s spending is increasingly motivated by potential battles with Russia in Europe or China in the Indo-Pacific. Russian electronic warfare has hamstrung Excalibur precision artillery as well as an undisclosed ground-launched version of an air-to-ground armament, according to experts.

The lessons gleaned from Ukraine’s fight are making “everybody think about the problem space,” Monteleoene said, “including where our investments truly need to be.”

The Army in recent years earmarked millions of dollars for sophisticated electronic warfare equipment as well as jam-resistant navigation gear.

The service inked a $318 million deal with BAE Systems for M-code GPS cards and tapped TRX Systems to produce second-generation Dismounted Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing Systems, which soldiers can carry in the field. That deal was worth $402 million.

Colin Demarest was a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covered military networks, cyber and IT. Colin had 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.

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