“Cloak” for the Enemy

To deprive the enemy of control in a wide front – this task is within the power of the latest electronic warfare system

NEW – July 27, 2022

What is the “cloak” in the title? The fact is that a stole [in Russian – “palantin” – SZ] is a fur cape, an element of women’s outerwear. Perhaps the newest electronic warfare complex “Palantin “was named by analogy: if it is deployed and “thrown” over enemy concentration areas, then it will not seem to be enough.

Battalion for “Palantin”

It is no secret that the “Palantin” electronic warfare system is used during the special military operation in Ukraine. Back in June, the Russian Defence Ministry dedicated a short video clip to it, which was broadcast on many TV channels. Abroad, it has aroused considerable interest – electronic warfare tools in the West enjoy increased attention, since Russia (and this is recognised by leading foreign experts) has overtaken NATO countries in their development and use.

“Palantin” is already a proven novelty. It was first presented to the public in 2016 at the “Army” International Military-Technical Forum, when the system had not yet been launched in series. Three years later, it was seen as part of a mechanised column at the Victory Parade in Voronezh — a tribute to the local concern “Sozvezdiye”, where “Palantin” was developed and production was mastered.

In 2019, the system began to enter the army. Formed in the same year, a separate EW battalion of the Western Military District was equipped with “Palantin”. The military unit was directly subordinate to the headquarters of the Guards Combined Arms Army, and the main purpose was to create effective electronic protection and counter enemy intelligence equipment. Already in the autumn, during a large-scale exercise in the south-west of Russia, the battalion successfully coped with the task of covering an interspecific group of troops on a strip about a thousand kilometres wide.

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One step ahead

Even purely visually, the complex goes beyond the usual framework. After all, usually an electronic warfare vehicle is one or two vehicles, and here there are 22 (!) four-axle KAMAZ trucks. All are armoured, each weighing about 27 tons.

Now about the possibilities. In short, the latest “Palantin” system allowed to increase the combat capabilities of conducting radio suppression of electronic objects of a potential enemy by more than two times. In addition, the ability to suppress communication lines that were previously outside the operating ranges of existing electronic warfare stations is provided. Needless to say, this is a significant step forward.

“Palantin” goes to a given area and gets to work (it takes about half an hour to prepare from the march, including lifting 15-meter antenna devices). As a result, in a matter of minutes, the system simply deprives the enemy of communication in the short-wave and ultra-short-wave bands, and the use of cellular and trunking communications is stopped in a large area. In defence, the system can “hide” an entire combined-arms or tank army.

Cheaper and more reliable

During the special operation in Ukraine, the main task of “Palantin” is to suppress the means of communication of the headquarters of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, that is, to deprive them of the ability to control their troops. Moreover, the complex is also a system-forming one — if necessary, it can combine electronic warfare and electronic intelligence (“Moskva”, “Zhitel”, and others) into a single network. This “conglomerate” significantly increases the efficiency of the application than when used separately. As a result, the enemy’s headquarters cannot organise combat operations and lead units and subunits. In other words, they are deaf and dumb.

There are also focused objects of application – the fight against unmanned aerial vehicles. The range of their suppression is up to 20 kilometres. At the same time, the impact is on a specific identified drone, and the work of civilian infrastructure is not disrupted. Given the massive nature of the use of military drones, the new system is in high demand. Moreover, it is much cheaper and more reliable to deprive a drone of control than to use expensive air defence systems on it.

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As was noted by the officers of the “Palantin” calculation, the system is easy to manage and maintain. In addition, it is able to perform tasks in automatic mode: the equipment independently records activity on the air, accurately determines its source – whether it is an Internet tool on the control panel, a drone control channel, a closed digital data line, or cellular communication equipment. The optimal method of object suppression is also suggested here.

The “Palantin” system has a reserve for the future — it is able to resist the beginning use of radio equipment based on SDR technologies (software defined radio). Such devices transmit a broadband signal from a radio receiver to a computer and can change the radio frequency parameters of the equipment using software. In addition, information systems that distribute signals from satellites, radio stations, and cellular communication sources also use SDR technologies. In a word, “Palantin” will have control over them too.

…During the special operation in Ukraine, the “Palantin” system will not only help the troops in completing the tasks at hand, but will also be tested in combat conditions. This is important both for the further development of this effective means of electronic warfare, and for the training and improvement of the skills of the personnel of the calculations. After all, it is in the course of intense military everyday life that skills are polished, interaction is worked out, and the capabilities of unique equipment are tested in practice, not at the training ground, but at real contact with the enemy. All this will then be summarised by specialists and used in the future.

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Pyotr Nikolayev

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