A Russian Su-24 bomber buzzed the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Black Sea in early April, escalating the military standoff over Ukraine and outraging American officials.
Now Russian media claims that the Su-24 managed to jam Donald Cook’s Aegis air-defense system, which combines radars and long-range missiles. “The algorithm of the radar in the Aegis system on the destroyer did not load under the influence of jamming by the Su-24,” the Russian Radio Website reported.
It’s a bullshit story.
Donald Cook’s Aegis system tracked the Su-24 approaching, when suddenly the ship’s sensor displays went blank, according to the Russian Website. The swing-wing Su-24 flew over the destroyer, turned and performed a simulated missile attack.
“Then it turned and repeated the maneuver. And did so 12 times,” Russian Radio claimed.
The Russian Khibiny jammer that allegedly took down Aegis is named for a mountain range on Russia’s Kola Peninsula. “Khibiny is the newest complex for radio-electronic jamming of the enemy,” Russian Radio explained. “They will be installed on all the advanced Russian planes.”
How credible is this story? First off, how would Russian operators even know the destroyer’s Aegis had shut down? The Pentagon insisted shortly after the incident that Donald Cook was “more than capable of defending itself.”
And Russian Radio stated that after the alleged jamming, Donald Cook “rushed into a port in Romania.”
“There, all the 27 members of the crew filed a letter of resignation,” the Website claimed. “It seems that all 27 people have written that they are not going to risk their lives.”
Um, Donald Cook has a crew of around 280 people. There are no verifiable reports that any of the ship’s sailors resigned. That’s not the sort of thing that happens, well, ever in the U.S. Navy.
Besides, why would Russia would give the U.S. a chance to analyze its latest jamming system? Spoofing a solitary warship isn’t worth betraying an purported major leap in electronic-warfare capability.
Still, it’s not hard to see why Russian Radio would disseminate this propaganda. The site quotes a Russian political scientist saying the jamming of Donald Cook, along with a long string of U.S. missile defense failures, proves that America’s multi-billion-dollar missile defenses don’t work.
“The ground component of the [anti-ballistic missile] was tested in ideal conditions and showed a low efficiency,” said Pavel Zolotarev, deputy director of the Institute of USA and Canada, a Moscow think tank. “This fact is concealed by the Pentagon. The most modern component, the sea-based system Aegis, also showed its shortcomings in the present case.”
With Poland shopping for its own missile-interceptor system, the jamming story might be meant to discourage Russia’s nervous neighbors, as well as the U.S., from pursuing such defenses.
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