First Il-22PP electronic warfare planes in Russian Air Force

11 November 2016 Nikolay Litovkin, RIR
The new Porubschik aircrafts are able to selectively turn off electronic signals of enemy airplanes and drones, and ground-based air defence systems. However, the planes with jammers are far from cutting-edge – the Ilyushin Il-22PP was built in the 1970s.
Ilyushin Il-18
According to the designers, the new Il-22PP Porubshchik can selectively disable enemy equipment using powerful interference while obstructing similar enemy means of electronic warfare. Photo: An Ilyushin Il-18 airliner takes off from Runway 1 of the Tolmachovo airport. Source: Alexandr Kryazhev/RIA Novosti

The Russian air force has taken delivery of the first three Ilyushin Il-22PP ‘Porubschik’ aircraft, with up-to-date jamming equipment that can disable electronics systems on enemy planes. 

The electronic warfare (EW) equipment has been fitted on an aircraft built in the mid-1970s. Despite this, developers insist that the updated machine can withstand the most modern electronic systems mounted on advanced foreign aircraft. 

"The new equipment is capable of 'blinding' Airborne Early Warning and Control System [AWACS] aircraft," a source in the military-industrial complex told RIR. "In addition to these, the Il-22PP Porubshchik effectively counteracts Patriot air defence systems."

The designers claim the new Il-22PP Porubshchik can selectively disable enemy equipment using powerful interference while obstructing similar enemy EW methods.

"Before the electronic interference system starts, the plane scans radio signals in the area of its activity," the RIR source said. "After the detection of frequencies on which enemy aircraft work, the aircraft's operator switches on interference in the desired range."

Why base a modern electronic system on a 20th-century plane?

Mikhail Khodorenok, retired colonel and military analyst of the Gazeta.ru online newspaper, said the Il-22 was a necessity for the military. 

"At one time, a few more options were considered: AN-140 and AN-158 planes with turbojet engines as well as the Tu-214," he told RIR. "However, when the ‘defence procurement’ mechanism was started in 2009, none of these models were fully ready to be equipped with the latest electronic warfare [EW] systems." 

"Of course, this is not an ideal solution," he said, explaining why new jammers had been placed on a "trusty old horse." "For lack of a better option, a choice had to be made – either to stay without the EW aircraft, or to mount the equipment on tested wings." 

Khodorenok stressed that the Defence Ministry's decision is temporary, and the Il-22PP Porubshchik will be replaced with more modern aircraft in the near future.

EW systems in modern warfare

EW systems are used not only to "attack," but also to make units invisible to incoming missiles during fighting. For example, the Mi-24 and Ka-52 combat helicopters in Syria are equipped with the ‘Vitebsk’ and the ‘President’ individual protection systems.

"EW systems integrated into the hardware can also interfere with missiles with optical and infrared homing, and even deviate them from the original flight path," Dmitry Safonov, military observer for the Izvestiya newspaper, told RIR. 

The capability of EW systems installed in helicopters can be illustrated with similar radar protection systems against heat-seeking missiles. 

Fighters in Syria make an unsuccessful shot from an IGLA. Source: Mark Antonon/YouTube

An incident captured by fighters from the Authenticity and Development Front on the outskirts of Aleppo shows U.S.-backed moderate opposition units, anti-government forces fired at a Syrian Mi-17 military transport helicopter from an Igla-1 anti-aircraft missile system. This video shows clearly how the electronics behaved. 

Safonov said land-based electronic warfare systems operate on a similar principle. 

Russia’s Khmeimim airbase in Syria is currently protected by Krasukha-4 systems, which turn off all enemy land electronic systems within a radius of 250 kilometres. 

According to military analysts, the Russian armed forces will re-equip their EW fleet with 70 percent of the latest technology by 2020.

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