Russia Deploys ‘Mystery’ Missiles Capable Of Spoofing Air-Defense Radars

American intelligence officials have chanced on that the barrage of ballistic missiles Russia has fired into Ukraine comprise a shock: decoys that trick air-defense radars and fool warmth-looking out out for missiles.

The devices are each about 1 foot lengthy, fashioned love a trip and white with an orange tail, in step with an American intelligence respectable. They are released by the Iskander-M instant-differ ballistic missiles that Russia is firing from cell launchers in the end of the border, the respectable acknowledged, when the missile senses that it has been centered by air defense programs.

Each and each is filled with electronics and produces radio indicators to jam or spoof enemy radars attempting to locate the Iskander-M, and contains a warmth source to entice incoming missiles. The respectable, who used to be now not authorized to communicate publicly about intelligence matters, described the devices on the location of anonymity.

The usage of the decoys can also assist imprint why Ukrainian air-defense weapons have had effort intercepting Russia’s Iskander missiles.


Powered by a solid-gas rocket motor, the Iskander can attain targets higher than 200 miles away, in step with U.S. executive paperwork. Each and each cell launcher can fire two Iskanders sooner than it might perchance more than possible be reloaded.

Photos of the trip-fashioned munitions started circulating on social media two weeks within the past. They’d stumped consultants and originate-source intelligence analysts — tons of whom mistook them for bomblets from cluster weapons in step with their size and shape.

Richard Stevens, who spent 22 years within the British Army as an explosive ordnance disposal soldier and later labored as a civilian bomb technician for 10 years in southern Iraq, Africa and other areas, acknowledged he had been uncovered “to masses of Chinese language and Russian munitions, however I had never considered this.”

Stevens posted pictures of the munitions to a location for defense force and civilian bomb disposal consultants that he started in 2011, and chanced on that no one else perceived to have considered these thriller munitions sooner than both.

“That Russia is using that size of weapon — the Iskander-M — and tons of of them I mediate, that’s why we’re seeing this now,” Stevens acknowledged. “It’s lawful that, submit-conflict within the past 10 to 15 years, no one has had the chance to stare this.”

The devices are a lot like Cool Battle decoys called “penetration aids,” the intelligence respectable acknowledged, which have accompanied nuclear warheads for the explanation that 1970s and were designed to evade anti-missile programs and permit particular particular person warheads to attain their targets. The incorporation of the devices into weapons a lot just like the Iskander-M which have susceptible warheads has now not been previously documented in defense force arsenals.

“The minute of us came up with missiles, of us started looking out to shoot them down, and the minute of us started looking out to shoot them down, of us started extreme about penetration aids,” acknowledged Jeffrey Lewis, a professor of nonproliferation on the Middlebury Institute of International Stories in Monterey, California. “But we never stare them because they’re highly secret — as soon as you happen to acknowledge how they work, you might more than possible counteract them.”


The usage of the decoys can also demonstrate some stage of carelessness or urgency by Russian defense force management, Lewis acknowledged, given that Russia is conscious of they’re going to inevitably be still and studied by Western intelligence products and providers in articulate that NATO air defenses will possible be programmed to defeat the Iskander’s countermeasures.

And it is highly now not going, he acknowledged, that the version of the Iskander that Russia has equipped to other worldwide locations would comprise these decoys.

“That implies to me that the Russians build some value on keeping that skills shut to dwelling and that this battle is critical enough to them to present that up,” Lewis acknowledged. “They’re digging deep, and in all likelihood they now not care, however I would care if I were them.

“I comprise that there are some very excited of us within the U.S. intelligence neighborhood lovely now.”

John [email protected] The New York Times Company

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