Russia appears to have upped its Electronic Warfare (EW) game by releasing a previously unknown small drone-based system based on the Orlan-10 design shown in a recent video. Russian defense observers claim the drone has been active in the war zone for some time.
Anticipating that the war will stretch into the winter and possibly next year if diplomacy with the United States (USA) or Ukraine fails, this quickly introduced system could give the Russian army significant tactical advantages on the battlefield, provided , it was already being produced in large numbers and received by all forward units.
It was reported that “Moskit”, “Mosquito” and even “Mosquito” are mainly based on the Orlan-10 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
The light drone is said to have successfully disrupted Ukrainian communications and will also be presented to the 300,000 under-skilled newly mobilized recruits.
The Russian Defense Ministry had recently mentioned electronic warfare and electrical engineering as areas in which recruits should be trained, alongside radio communications, mechanical repairs and drone operations.
What the video shows
The video shows two soldiers setting up a ground-based launcher and pulling a thick rope intended for the catapult launch system. A short shot shows the antenna dish, presumably for controlling the drone and for sending and receiving data.
The Moskit has a two-blade front propeller and appears to be very portable and lightweight.
The soldiers assemble the drone by attaching its fuselage and attaching the other half of each wing. The drone has antennas all over its body, typical of airborne EW platforms. Another shot shows soldiers in a separate command center in radio communication with the drone’s forces.
One of the drone operators sees the catapult retract, which eventually fires the drone. The Moskit then flies overhead and descends vertically by detaching a parachute and landing on inflatable side fuselage airbags that cushioned its fall.
Lightweight and versatile
The drone has been hailed as a success in miniaturizing electronic warfare (EW) systems. “Russia’s Mosquito drones began to disrupt the communications of the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the head of the Special Military Operation (SMO), causing absolute chaos and confusion in their operations. Our troops wasted no time exploiting this,” reads a comment on one page. The claim could not be verified.
The drone has modules for suppressing and jamming electronic communication and data transmission channels. The UAVs can jam communications up to a range of five kilometers, making it difficult for enemy units in the front to interact with their headquarters or command and control centers stationed in the rear.
But more importantly, the Moskit is also outfitted with electro-optical systems to perform Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) duties, which the operator can easily switch from its core EW orientation.
It also allows for simultaneous EW and ISR tasks, revealing enemy positions and radio emission sources. “Previously, the Ministry of Defense did not demonstrate the combat work of mosquitoes,” the comment on the site reads.
The claim is true as no press release or promotional material about the drone was found from Russia’s MoD, its news channel Krasnaya Zvezda, news services like TASS, Interfax, RIA Novosti or channels like Russia TV (RT) or Sputnik.
It is nonetheless unusual to hide the existence of an otherwise inexpensive system like a light drone when Russia has been actively publicizing its military operations and weapon systems throughout the war.
At best, one could conclude that the publicity department’s drone narrowly escaped. Its disclosure was pushed by one of the several leading military-technical institutes of the Soviet era or by a lot of private Russian companies that developed it!
A complement to Russia’s various EW systems
Russia has long led an extremely capable EW, considered a legion unto itself, perfecting its doctrines and systems since Syria, where its bases and troops have come under constant attack from Islamic State (IS) groups opposed to President Basher al -Assad are.
Krasukha-4 is one of Russia’s most advanced EW platforms, capable of jamming signals from enemy airborne and spaceborne installations. Another advanced EW airborne system is the Su-34 fighter-bomber, which has a Khibiny pod on each wingtip.
The Mi-8MTPR-1 EW helicopter is another platform that the EurAsian Times reported on in October. It is an upgraded version of the standard Mi-8MTV-5-1, equipped with the Richag-AV EW system. Moscow is believed to have used this helicopter to conduct electronic warfare against Ukrainian air defense systems.
Equipping small drones with an electronic warfare system points to tangible achievements in what Russian commentators have long regarded as weaknesses in Russia’s defense industry.