Information Warfare: Playing Poker With Russia


August 10, 2008:  Israel is seeking to intimidate Russia into halting shipment of S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran. The threat comes in the form of an Israeli announcement that they have developed an electronic warfare device that can defeat the S-300 radar. If Iran gets the S-300s, Israel threatens to sell the electronic warfare technology to nations who might have to deal with S-300 systems, thus greatly reducing the effectiveness, and value, of current S-300s. It would also make it more difficult for Russia to sell the S-300 in the future.

This could be a bluff, but the Russians have to face the fact that the Israelis have a long track record of successfully defeating radars, and anti-aircraft missiles, especially those of Russian manufacture. Russia, on the other hand, has an equally impressive record of having their systems either fail, or get smoked by Western countermeasures. Now playing this kind of game is usually done in private by military equipment salesmen. Rarely do you hear this stuff tossed about in public.

Of course, the Russians are going to think that, if the Israelis do have such a device, they are going to sell it to selected customers anyway. But the Israelis may have made an offer, behind the scenes, to withhold the device from the general market, if the Russians will halt S-300 shipments to Iran. Then again, the Russians are not without talent in the electronic warfare department, and may see this as an opportunity to either test the S-300 radars and counter-countermeasures against a possible Israeli attack, while also calling the Israelis bluff. In any event, it's an interesting, and rare, exercise in Information Warfare.


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