In the ongoing conflict with Russia, Ukraine is making significant strides in electronic warfare (EW), aiming to transform its military capabilities in this crucial area. This shift is part of Ukraine's broader strategy to modernize its approach to warfare, leveraging technology to counter Russian forces effectively.
Scaling Up Electronic Warfare
Ukraine's Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, in a recent interview with CNN, discussed the country's efforts to ramp up its electronic warfare capabilities. This comes after Ukraine successfully increased its domestic drone production a hundredfold this year, profoundly transforming the battlefield dynamics.
"We are not only scaling UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) production, we are scaling EW production too and generally changing the approach to the use of electronic warfare," Fedorov stated. The focus is not just on integrating electronic warfare as an additional layer of protection but doing so intelligently.
Fedorov emphasizes the importance of avoiding "electronic fratricide," where EW systems might inadvertently target one's own forces. This concept was highlighted in a November 2022 report from the British think tank Royal United Services Institute, noting that Russia faced significant issues with this in the early stages of the war.
The Next Technological Stage in Warfare
The ultimate goal for Ukraine, according to Fedorov, is to develop the technology to enable drones to target enemy electronic warfare equipment on a large scale. This development would be a game-changer for drone operators like Pavlo Petrychenko, who describes the current situation as a game of cat-and-mouse in hunting Russian equipment.
Social media plays a crucial role in this new warfare landscape. Videos of successful strikes, like Petrychenko's early November drone attack, go viral among Ukrainian troops, serving as a practical guide for identifying and targeting Russian assets on the battlefield.
Experts like Kari Bingen, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, acknowledge the significance of Ukraine's advancements. "What you’re seeing play out in Ukraine is very much a glimpse into what modern warfare looks like today," Bingen said.
This new era of warfare integrates electronic capabilities and tactics into conventional operations. The U.S. is also adjusting its strategies in electronic warfare, recognizing it as a fundamental aspect of contemporary and future military engagements.
As Ukraine invests directly in EW and incentivizes domestic production, the need for Western support in terms of technology and expertise remains critical. "The West has all the technology we need," Fedorov said, highlighting the ongoing need for international collaboration in this rapidly evolving field of warfare.