Next level of “decoy warfare”: American radar imitations now in Ukraine – Technology Org

Ancient but effective strategy: dummy models of real weapons and supporting tech such as radars manufactured from cardboard, wood, and sometimes their inflatable versions have made their way to a modern battlefield.

A U.S. Air Force threat emitter at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in 2020. Looks like a real radar. Image credit: U.S. Air Force

They may look like child’s play, but in reality, such decoys are still quite capable of fooling adversaries, forcing them to make incorrect strategical and tactical decisions, or at least misleading them enough to waste one or two shots of precious ammo.

Ukraine also uses this type of warfare against the invading Russian army. And it seems to be working in the right direction.

Now, it will be possible to make this hide-and-seek game even more advanced: the United States provided imitators of modern radars. They even have their own name – Joint Threat Emitters (JTE).

Apparently, these decoys have already been in use by the Ukrainian Armed Forces for some time. There’s no real radar technology inside – just a masterfully crafted shell of an actual radiofrequency station. These threats are simulated, but the reactions of the enemy will be real.

The new delivery was publicly announced by the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force Charles Q. Brown Jr. in the publication Aviation Week.

The most advanced Joint Threat Emitters may look like this one. It is not exactly known what types of dummy radars have arrived in Ukraine from the U.S.

The most advanced Joint Threat Emitters may look like this one. It is not exactly known what types of dummy radars have arrived in Ukraine from the U.S. Image credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Dave Webb/Released

How do radar simulators work?

Joint Threat Emitters simulate the operation of radar stations typically used in anti-aircraft missile systems. Their physical appearance is very similar – that is why the equipment looks like a real version even to an adjacent human observer.

These dummies can also attract anti-radar missiles. But antenna dishes are the only thing that is the same as in real systems. That is why JTEs are relatively inexpensive and “disposable”.

The most advanced piece of equipment contained inside is a special electronic high-density radiofrequency generator that simulates scanning beams of the surface-to-air and anti-aircraft artillery radar systems. These signals can be detected by the enemy pilots as if they were emitted from a real air defense system.

Each JTE can simulate up to six threat systems. Multiple decoy units can be controlled in a coordinated manner.

The U.S. Army uses such imitators in Air Force pilot training missions who learn to act under conditions that are created to look like real. For Ukraine, however, fake radars will help to diversify the overall appearance of artistically constructed scenes intended to mislead the enemy.


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