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A Russian military drone-based electronic-warfare system is aiming to hi-jack phones. The Leer-3 RB-341V combines jammers and UAVs in order to disable cellular networks, and allow the Russian military to send fake messages.
According to the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO), which translates Russian media reports: “The UAV can effectively turn into a ‘virtual cellular station’ by sending messages and totally controlling devices once it replaces a base station”.
The Leer-3 RB-341V was used in Syria to send instant messages to rebels, containing application forms for an armistice, said Lt. Gen. Sergey Kuralenko, the Chief of the Center for the Reconciliation of the Opposing Sides in Syria.
According to a TASS news agency article, “The Leer-3 complex is composed of three UAVs and a command and control post on a truck. The UAVs’ primary mission is to suppress cellular communication towers. To do this, special ‘jammers’ have been installed onboard the Orlan-10 UAVs, and also disposable jammers, which they drop onto the ground. Having jammed the base stations, the UAVs were able to send instant messages to subscribers under certain conditions”.
According to nationalinterest.org, the initial Leer-3 systems, which were deployed in 2015, were designed to disable Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) cellular networks. In addition to Syria, the Leer-3 has already been spotted in the Donbass region of Ukraine.
Russia isn’t the only nation using cellular networks as battlefields. According to foreign sources, Israel, for example, rings target sites in Gaza to give innocent civilians time to escape before a smart bomb arrives. But Russia’s use of UAVs raises interesting possibilities, including sending drones to hijack communications deep inside enemy territory.