The Russian military is testing the Tirada-2 orbital jamming system in the Donbas. The presence of this modern electronic warfare system in eastern Ukraine was announced on 16 March 2019 in a report by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM). At the time, the system had not yet been officially adopted into Russia’s armament.
According to volunteers from the international investigation community InformNapalm, this system’s presence in the Donbas indicates not only that Russia is testing its latest electronic warfare systems in combat conditions against the Ukrainian army, but also that it is attempting to interfere with the signal reception of the US’s RQ-4B Global Hawk surveillance drone that periodically performs monitoring flights along the contact line.
On 3 April 2019, the Twitter account of the Ukrainian Mission to the OSCE published a photograph of an R-330Zh “Zhitel” automatic jamming system and a Tirada-2 system that were spotted by an SMM drone near the Yuzhna-Lomuvatka settlement in the Luhansk province. The investigators note that there has been a permanent presence of Russian electronic warfare systems in this territory since 2017. Until now, the exact appearance of the Tirada-2 was not known, although Russia did present a model Tirada-2S at the Max-2013 international exhibition.
The SMM drone’s photograph has helped to narrow down the search for real photographs of this secret Russian system. Another picture of the system at a testing ground in Russia was leaked online in 2018 due to negligence on the part of the Russian Defense Ministry’s press service. InformNapalm volunteers compered the photograph from the SMM’s report to the leaked photo and concluded that it is indeed a Tirada-2 system, which is officially not yet being used by the Russian Defense Ministry.
On the evening of 18 April, the OSCE SMM team lost a long-range drone that was meant to be monitoring the Ukraine-controlled and separatist-controlled territories on either side of the demarcation line in the Donbas.
The headquarters of Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation later reported that Russia’s use of modern electronic warfare systems was responsible for the loss of the OSCE drone.