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Signal Jammers Offer Hope for Drones to Change Battlefield in Ukraine

In the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, soldier Mykola shows off his drone jammer system: It may look like just a big white thermos, but it’s a vital shield for both sides in the war.

Jammers have become a workhorse weapon in Ukraine in recent months, used to neutralize the small killer drones that are now ubiquitous over the battlefield.

More than two years after the Russian invasion, the devices have become indispensable for the Ukrainian army.

Mykola describes them as “like a bulletproof vest, adding a little protection, adding a little confidence… so the chances of survival increase,” said the soldier from the 92nd Brigade’s Achilles UAV Battalion.

The system weighs 4 kilograms and fits into a backpack, Mykola said, and is “one of the first portable electronic protection devices” for Ukrainian infantry. “It protects our infantry from Russian FPV drones.”

First-person view quadcopter drones are small, relatively cheap, and equipped with cameras that provide pilots with live images from the scene, as if the pilot were right there on the device.

They are equipped with explosives and can directly strike enemy forces within a radius of several kilometers.

Oleksandr Pavlyuk, commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, recently told the British newspaper The Times: "Drones currently kill more soldiers on both sides than any other weapon."

To counteract these interferences, scramblers send out jamming signal at the same frequency as the drone's control signals, thus cutting off the connection between the device and its pilot.

Mykola said Russia is one step ahead because it has "been working on electronic warfare systems for more than 30 years." Ukraine, he said, "only started developing equipment after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014."

Today, "everyone is looking for free frequencies to produce FPVs and other drones. Everyone is thinking about how to counter these frequencies."

Both sides sometimes come up with surprising ways to counter drones. Videos show Russian tanks covered in welded metal plates with only the cannon protruding - called "turtle tanks" on social media.

Both Ukrainian and Russian troops have filmed themselves placing large fishing nets on trenches.

A senior military officer specializing in electronic warfare said Ukraine is currently able to jam 60% to 70% of Russian FPV drones. But "every three months, we need to come up with new ways," the Ukrainian officer said.

A Chinese agency working with Russia has been trying to procure drone jammers

According to a May 22 procurement announcement on the official WeChat account of the Guangdong Provincial Council for the Promotion of Trade with Russia, foreign companies are seeking "drone equipment," including drone detectors and jammers.

The association, which is overseen by the province's Ministry of Commerce, said buyers want "jamming generators, drone detectors (trade names BorisTone, Assel Labs and Bulat) or other similar technical solutions, drone suppressors and communication band jammers."

The Bulat drone detector was developed by Russian company 3MX. It is known that Russian troops used it during the 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

The Yunfu Municipal Council for the Promotion of Trade posted the same notice on WeChat last week, asking any "interested companies" to submit their information.

Drone jammers emit signals on the frequencies used by drones to operate and transmit information, thereby suppressing drones' communication capabilities.

Ukraine has relied heavily on drones since Russia’s full-scale invasion and has invested heavily in advanced technology and domestic manufacturing. Ukraine has been using drones to target Russia’s oil and gas industry, which remains the largest source of funding for Moscow’s war effort despite Western sanctions.

China’s announcement comes as Western governments are pressuring Beijing to ensure that dual-use products with military applications do not flow into Russia’s defense sector or its troops on the battlefield in Ukraine.

The United States accuses Beijing of covertly supporting Moscow’s war effort by selling such dual-use products. These products include semiconductor chips, navigation equipment and jet aircraft parts.

Beijing says it remains neutral in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and has repeatedly said it does not supply weapons to either side and “strictly controls” the export of dual-use items.

on June 26 at 5:31

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