Military Embedded Systems

Next generation warfare: unexpected happenings


August 20, 2015

Ray Alderman

VITA Standards Organization

EVOLUTION OF WARFARE BLOG: Now that we have looked at the evolution of warfare through the ages in the previous seven articles, and speculated on what the future may hold, there are several significant incidents that beg examination and explanation. While the U.S. unquestionably has the most sophisticated weapons and intelligence systems on the planet, are our enemies catching up or even getting ahead of us? And do we already have next-generation intelligence systems operating secretly?

In early April of 2014, the USS Donald Cook, a Navy AEGIS destroyer, was patrolling off the coast of Romania in the Black Sea when a Russian Su-24 fighter bomber approached ( Instantly, all the AEGIS missile defense systems and radars shut-down rendering the Cook defenseless. For the next 90 minutes, the unarmed Russian warplane executed twelve practice missile attack runs against the ship and went back to its base. The details here are according to Russian news reports. The Pentagon did acknowledge an incident, but no comments on the AEGIS Combat Systems being disabled. In the past year, there have been over 40 Russian bomber incursions close to NATO-member and US airspace so confrontations between Russian warplanes and our ships isn’t that unusual (

But, our airmen are not without guilt either. In the 1980s, the U.S. Air Force was running COMBAT SENT operations in the Black Sea, to collect ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) information on Russia's newer SA-5 and SA-10 surface-to-air missile systems -- by collecting waveforms, frequencies, protocols, etc. -- during their military exercises. Major John “Box” Elder was flying his RC-135U, a four-engine jet-powered KC-135 tanker plane converted for intelligence missions, with a crew of intelligence analysts, Russian linguists, and intercept operators. He spotted a Kiev-class Russian carrier and swung into position so the Russians would track him on their air defense radar and he could intercept and record their signals.

The Russians knew he was intercepting their SA-5 and SA-10 radar signals, recording them and analyzing them, so the Russian carrier turned-off their SAM radar to thwart his mission. Major Elder then turned his aircraft into a rear approach to the carrier, began to reduce his altitude and speed on the proper slope, and lowered his landing gear as if he was preparing to land on the carrier deck. The Russians on the deck began to wave him off with signal paddles and on their radios in English. But, Major Elder stayed on slope in a perfect landing pattern. It was obvious that a big KC-135 aircraft could not possibly land and on the deck of a Kiev-class Russian carrier, but the American plane certainly looked like it was going to try.

So, the Russians turned-on their SA-5 and SA-10 SAM radar systems, to lock-on Elder’s plane to shoot it down before it could land on the flight deck. Major Elder’s crew then recorded all the radar signals, raised his landing gear, and flew off at an angle from the carrier. Before he could return to his base, the Russians had filed a protest through the U.S. State Department. When the plane landed at base, it was met by General John. T Chain, who proceeded to chew-out Major Elder and his crew for creating an international incident. Then, he reportedly told them, “Nice job, boys."

Back to the point here: do the Russians have an advanced electronic warfare (EW) system capable of rendering our most sophisticated AEGIS systems inoperable? It took until June 2015 to find some clues. The Russians demonstrated their microwave gun technology they claim can shut-down the guidance and targeting systems in attacking missiles and drones ( Then in July, TASS (the Russian News Agency) announced they have a new unnamed EW system capable of disabling and/or destroying advanced U.S. weapons and systems, including our satellites in orbit, with high-energy electromagnetic signals ( We have not seen our AEGIS fleet rushed to port for upgrades and enhancements. We probably wouldn’t know if they did, but something is going on here: either the Russians do have a new capability or their propaganda machine is getting very creative.

In July of 2013, a North Korean freighter (the Chong Chon Gang) was halted and inspected at the Panama Canal, suspected of carrying illegal cargo after it left Havana, Cuba headed for home ( What they found, under 10,000 tons of sugar, were two disassembled Mig-21 fighter jets, two anti-aircraft defense systems with nine missiles, 15 jet engines for the Migs, and other small munitions. North Korea is not allowed, by U.N. resolutions, to import or export weapons.

The Cubans were very careful to disguise those shipping containers under bags of sugar when loading, and probably loaded them at night to avoid any satellite surveillance by U.S. intelligence. It’s doubtful that the U.S. has any HUMINT (human intelligence) sources on the docks in Havana, to report what was being loaded. So, who told the Panamanians that the ship might contain narcotics or other contraband? Was that just a cover story and does the U.S. have some really sophisticated system that could see what was in those crates while being loaded or when inside the ship’s hold? We know that police and federal officers have been using Range-R radar devices than can see inside homes since about 2012.

To read Warfare Evolution Blog Part 1 click here, for Part 2 here, here for Part 3, for part 4 click here, for part 5 click here, for part 6 click here, and for part 7 click here.

In early October of 2012, a Syrian commercial airliner was flying from Moscow to Damascus through Turkish airspace. Turkey scrambled their F-16 fighters, intercepted the airliner, and forced it to land in Ankara for inspection. Inside the cargo hold, they found munitions, weapons, and military equipment ( Turkey’s policies are that international commercial flights can use their airspace, but they cannot carry any military equipment, weapons, or munitions on board. It’s pretty clear that the Russians were sending the military equipment to Assad in Damascus. But, how did the Turks know which airliner to grab, and what to look for? Who told them?

It’s unlikely that the U.S. or Turkey had any HUMINT sources at the Moscow airport, to report the illegal cargo being loaded aboard the commercial flight. Surely, it would have been boxed and concealed to look like normal innocuous airfreight (like the missiles and Mig-21’s being disguised by big bags of raw sugar in Cuba). Diverting a commercial flight, or diverting a cargo ship, requires very solid evidence of some violation, not pure speculation and suspicion.

Maybe I’m just imagining things. The ship traveling home from Cuba was North Korean flagged and registered. That’s normal if the North Koreans have been buying sugar from the Cubans for some time. The Syrian airliner flying from Moscow to Damascus, through Turkish airspace, is not unusual either. So, there had to be some very clear intelligence to warrant those diversions.

As for the Russians possibly shutting-down an AEGIS boat, that one bothers me the most.


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