“Helpless”: Russian anti-drone EW system attacked by Ukrainian drone

Ukrainian Armed Forces / Facebook

A video of a small Ukrainian drone dropping improvised munitions on a Russian electronic warfare station has surfaced online. 

Videos of the attack were first posted on social media channels of the Operational Command East of Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces. 

“Scouts of Kharkiv separate territorial defense brigade slightly spoiled one of the new (“no analog”) creations of the Muscovites – a system for radio-electronic warfare against UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles – AeroTime] “Silok.” The irony is, our guys forgot why the hell this system was developed, so they hit it with… an UAV,” the video description said. 

The video was filmed from what likely was a small commercial drone rigged for dropping attached munitions. Similar devices see widespread use in the conflict, employed on both sides by both regular Ukrainian and Russian armed forces and various volunteer, paramilitary and guerilla units. 

The drone appears to be dropping three modified hand grenades – RKG-3 or a similar model – with additional fins attached. The grenades explode around one of the subsystems of the station. 

The question of what exactly attacked still remains. According to the description under the original video, it was “Silok”, an electronic warfare system designed to locate and disable drones at the distance of up to 4 kilometers (2.5 miles).  

Some components of the system visible in the video – particularly the electronic control and radio monitoring subsystem, a tripod-mounted cuboid component which seemed to be the main target – indeed resemble the “Silok”.  

However, on the left side of the video another subsystem of the complex is visible: a subsystem of radio-electronic control. Its shape appears to be different to that of Silok, implying that the complex might be the ROSC-1, a different electronic warfare system. Its resemblance with the system in the video was noticed by Twitter account Ukraine Weapons Tracker. 

Manufactured by Almaz-Antei, a major Russian arms corporation, the ROSC-1 was introduced in 2021 and is one of the latest Russian anti-drone systems. 

According to the manufacturer, it was specifically designed to disable various kinds of small and medium UAVs, such as the commercially-available DJI Mavic and DJI Spark and military-grade RQ-11B Raven and RQ-7 Shadow. 

Various documentation of the ROSC-1, available online, claims that it is capable to detect and disable small drones at the distance of up to 10 kilometers. 

The fact that such a system was attacked by what was most likely a civilian drone – the very aircraft the ROSC-1 was designed to fight – harks back to the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when Ukrainian military published several videos of Bayraktar TB-2 drones attacking BUK anti-aircraft missile launchers. 

The question remains whether the system in the new video is indeed the ROSC-1. The most identifiable part of the system – a control module, which can be mounted on a truck or in a shipping container – is not visible in the video. 

It also calls into question if an operational or even complete system was attacked. While the two subsystems visible in the video indeed constitute a lucrative target and may have sustained substantial damage from the shrapnel thrown around by the grenades, the control module, a much larger and arguably more important target, remains absent.  

Nevertheless, a Ukrainian attack on one of Russia’s top electronic warfare systems is a highly interesting development, and the fact that it was conducted by the exact type of weapon it was designed to counter gives it an additional importance. 

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