February 16, 2012

Suter EW Jamming for Israel's Operation Orchid

An Israeli F-15I used for air-superiority and, in Operation Orchid, an airstrike in September 2007.

Update at 6 March 2017

Israeli "Suter" jet based and other jamming made  possible Operation Orchard, an Israeli airstrike on a suspected nuclear reactor  in the Deir ez-Zor region of Syria, which occurred just after midnight (local time) on September 6, 2007. The Israeli and U.S. governments imposed virtually total news blackouts immediately after the raid that held for seven months. This Operation played a part in the thinking behind combining EA-18G "Growler" aerial jamming future attacks by F-35s.

See Submarine Matters 6 March 2017 article on Australian Growler Jamming Aircraft to Work With Australian F-35s.

Originally written by Pete in 2007. Several of these Israeli F-15Is ("Ra'am" in Hebrew or "Thunder") conducted the strike on the Syrian site. The F-15I's modifications from the standard F-15E include the Israeli Elisra SPS-2110 Integrated Electronic Warfare System (its likely Suter jamming package).

Western cyber warfare against other countries wins wars and the peace. In serious military operations tactical hacking, better known as jamming, is a highly respected art and science practiced by the US and its allies, including Israel.

Israel's curious airstrike on a Syrian "military building site" in early September 2007 has thrown the spotlight on a little known jamming technology known as "Suter".

 Wikipedia, reveals the following short description:

"Suter is a military computer program developed by BAE Systems that attacks computer networks and communications systems belonging to an enemy. Development of the program has been managed by Big Safari, a secret unit of the United States Air Force. It is specialised to interfere with the computers of integrated air defence systems.[1]

Three generations of Suter have been developed:

-  Suter 1 allows its operators to monitor what enemy radar operators can see. 

-  Suter 2 lets them take control of the enemy's networks and direct their sensors, and 

-  Suter 3, tested in summer 2006, enables the invasion of links to time-critical targets such as
   battlefield ballistic missile launchers or mobile surface-to-air missile launchers.

The program has been tested with aircraft such as the EC-130, RC-135, and F-16CJ.[1] It has been used in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2006.[2][3]

U.S. Air Force officials have speculated that a technology similar to Suter was used by the Israeli Air Force to thwart Syrian radars and sneak into their airspace undetected in Operation Orchard on September 6, 2006.

The evasion of air defence radar was otherwise unlikely because the F-15s and F-16s used by the IAF were not equipped with stealth technology.


1 a b David A. Fulghum, Michael A. Dornheim, and William B. Scott. Black Surprises. Aviation Week and Space Technology. Retrieved on 2007-10-05.

a b David A. Fulghum (October 3, 2007). Why Syria's Air Defenses Failed to Detect Israelis. Aviation Week and Space Technology. Retrieved on 2007-10-05.3 David A. Fulghum (January 14, 2007). Technology Will Be Key to Iraq Buildup. Aviation Week and Space Technology.4 John Leyden (October 4, 2007). Israel suspected of 'hacking' Syrian air defences. The Register. Retrieved on 2007-10-05."
Update - April 2009 - FA-18G Growler - Latest EW Jammer for US Navy and probably the Australian Air Force (RAAF)
From Aviation Week, April 13, 2009 comes:
NAS PATUXENT RIVER, Md. -- The brand-new EA-18G Growler has additional advances for airborne electronic attack (AEA) already on the way.
High on the list is the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ), which is to add even longer-range electronic attack, spoofing and advanced information and network attack options. With the new digital telecommunications used by opponents, U.S. planners have to be much more detailed about how electronic attack is conducted against networked, computer-controlled threats such as integrated air defenses.
Part of the new threat involves commercially available communications. GSM, Satphone, Bluetooth, 80211G and 80216 technologies are all built into one handset. It switches the user through all the options to find a usable route when being jammed. That type of connection technology is available and cheap.
New special-purpose electronic attack involves attacking more than external emissions. It goes after the digital instructions, called protocols, that run a network. It's electronic warfare against a computer network and not just a radar or radio signal. The goal is controlling communications more than preventing them. Nontraditional electronic attack involves producing long-lasting instead of temporary effects on enemy electronics.
Navy officials are a bit more circumspect and focused on incremental, near-term improvements.
"A much better jammer than the ALQ-99 [jamming pods that now equip both the Growler and Prowler] is part of the Growler roadmap," says Commander Frank Morley, program manager for the EA-18G. There are areas that could profit significantly from improvements "including the number and size of antennas and the small number of bands that can be attacked."
There also are issues with in-flight flexibility. Once the aircraft takes off, there is a limited, fixed configuration for electronic attack. NGJ is expected to offer more flexibility once airborne, and more band coverage that also can be adjusted in flight. ICAP III has already added information on board, networking capability and information from off-board sources to the older Prowler. NGJ is expected to allow even greater in-flight reactive capability.
"An EA-6B Prowler [in contrast] doesn't have a radar so it can defend itself only by running away," Morley says. "With the Growler's AESA radar, the crew can see what's going on. They know if there are fighters that have leaked through the front wall of the strike package. Situational awareness and the ability to defend themselves in an offensive manner is a first step that will make a difference. Now you don't have to put it in the back of the strike package with a section of fighters. [The Growler] may be able to hang around longer, planners may not have to put up as many assets to protect it and it may be able to make some of its own tactical decisions."

Suter appears to be an umbrella term for high level software and hardware jamming equipment in the USAF - also transferred or sold to allied air forces like Israel's. The Suter effort is part of a jamming network that doesn't exist in isolation.

The EA-18G "Growler" is a US Navy (and from 2017 Australian Air Force) platform that is a dedicated EW jamming aircraft - not just retrofitted like EW podded F-15s, F-16s or Tornados etc.