Russia Using Civilian Infrastructure for Missile Defense

The Russian Defense Ministry has reportedly begun buying jamming devices—known as Pole-21s—which will be mounted onto civilian cell phone towers. In the event of a conventional confrontation between Russia and a technologically savvy adversary, the jammers could interfere with GPS navigation systems of cruise missiles, drones and other satellite guidance systems.

The Cipher Take: With over 250,000 cellular stations to co-opt across the country, the jammers could be integrated into a single network, covering entire regions in a dome of navigational haze that could help avoid direct strikes on crucial Russian targets. However, while jammers could certainly make matters difficult for and adversary to strike precisely within Russia, many U.S. cruise missiles—like the Tomahawk—contain technology specifically designed to counteract jamming signals. Moreover, if the electromagnetic jammers were to be turned on, they would also likely jam Russian satellite frequencies, disabling their own satellite navigation capabilities. And, as the jammers would be integrated into a singular network, it would provide a critical target for offensive cyber operations to either disable the entire network or to weaponize the jammers against Russian systems under its protective dome.


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