Iran Upgrading its EW, GPS Denial Capabilities with Russia’s Help, Israel on Alert


Foreign Affairs

Tel Aviv: Russia is helping Iran to upgrade its EW capabilities including GPS denial capabilities. This development is being closely followed by Israel and action is being taken to monitor the new development and the ways to deal with it.

According to Israeli defence sources, Russia shared with Iran the lessons it learned from operating EW and GPS denial systems in Syria , while the Israeli air force attacked Iranian related targets. In recent days there were reports on US made weapons systems used in the Ukraine war that were captured by the Russian and sent to Iran. The systems that were provided by US and NATO to Ukraine found their way to Iran, reported CNN.

“Russia has been capturing some of the US and NATO-provided weapons and equipment left on the battlefield in Ukraine and sending them to Iran, where the US believes Tehran will try to reverse-engineer the systems,” four sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

In addition, there were reports that the Russians succeeded in disrupting the operation of US made, GPS based weapon systems in Ukraine. According to Business Insider, a US-made bomb kit that has been used by Ukraine’s military may have been hindered by Russian signal jamming, leaked Pentagon documents reveal.

The Russians have developed very advanced GPS denial and EW systems based on their experience in Syria,  according to Israeli sources. Two years ago Israel was affected by Russian GPS denial systems operated by the Russian in Syria. In this event the Israeli civil aviation suffered the most severe interferences.

In the recent years, GPS denial events caused by the Russian forces in Syria accelerated the development of systems that will make Israeli developed military systems immune to such disruptions. Some are already in operation while others are being tested. Israeli made weapon systems that use GPS as a guidance sensor also use other methods that are immune to interferences.

Some of the EW and GPS denial systems tested by the Russians in Syria are being used in the Ukraine war. Officially no one in Israel was ready to address the problem. Maj General (Ret.) Giora Eiland told Raksha Anirveda  that the transfer of advanced western weapon systems that were captured by the Russians in Ukraine to Iran can cause a problem if these systems will be used against Israel.

“When a country like Iran puts its hands on an advanced US made weapon system like the JDAM it creates a danger of finding the weak spots of such a system. In the JDAM, for example, the GPS navigation system can be affected with advanced GPS denial technologies like the ones developed by Russia.”

Maj General (Ret.) Issac Ben Israel told Raksha Anirveda that the real meaning of such transfer of weapon systems to Iran lies in the details. “In the GPS denial and immune systems, the question is which side is one step ahead of the other. If the Russians managed to be one step ahead then the transfer of this technology is meaningful.” Ben Israel was the head of the IAF Operations Research Branch, Analysis and Assessment Division of IAF Intelligence, and was the Head of Military R&D in Israel Defence Forces and Ministry of Defence.

By analysing the Russian GPS denial systems operated in Syria, Israel took some action to be better ready to a more aggressive GPS denial. Israeli defence sources say that the Russian have developed very efficient GPS jamming systems. The sources acknowledged that Iran has “an impressive” capability in reverse engineering as a result of the international sanctions that blocked the sale of advanced weapon systems to this country. The source pointed to the Iranian Shahed-191 drone that is believed to be based on the design of the American made  RQ-170 Sentinel drone. This advanced unmanned system was brought down by Iran in 2011.

The proliferation of Russian-made GPS jamming systems in the middle east accelerated the process of equipping the Israeli air force’s aircraft with anti-jamming systems. In 2021 , the Israeli air force revealed that advanced anti-jamming systems developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has been integrated into advanced platforms used by its different squadrons.

The system is the Anti-Jam GPS System (ADA), designed to protect GPS/GNSS navigation from jamming. According to IAI, the system has been integrated into advanced platforms used by the Israeli air force (IAF), including into F-16 fighter jets and various types of UAS. The ADA System has demonstrated operational maturity and is in use by a number of international customers on various airborne, land, and marine platforms.

IAI says that the ADA is combat-proven in providing immunity against GPS jammers, after it demonstrated its effectiveness in ‘Operation Guardian of the Walls’ in Gaza in 2021.

Israeli sources told Raksha Anirveda that the Russian presence in Syria, especially before the war in Ukraine, gave Moscow an opportunity to test its EW and GPS denial systems while Israeli air force attacked Iranian related targets in Syria. “The Russians have operated their systems against Israeli fighter aircraft, including F-35 while flying in the Israeli air space. Israel is aware of this operation but had to shut up as it has an agreement with Moscow that allows its forces to operate against Iranian related targets,” added the sources.