Israel Shows Electronic Prowess

Israel Shows Electronic Prowess
Israel Shows Electronic Prowess 

By David A. Fulghum, Robert Wall and Amy Butler
Aviation Week & Space Technology
Nov 25, 2007

The U.S. was monitoring the electronic emissions coming from Syria 
during Israels September attack; and-although there was no direct 
American help in destroying a nuclear-reactor there was some advice 
provided beforehand, military and aerospace industry officials tell 
Aviation Week & Space Technology.

That surveillance is providing clues about how Israeli aircraft managed 
to slip past Syrian air defenses to bomb the site at Dayr az-Zawr. The 
main attack was preceded by an engagement with a single Syrian radar 
site at Tall al-Abuad near the Turkish border. It was assaulted with 
what appears to be a combination of electronic attack and precision 
bombs to enable the Israeli force to enter and exit Syrian airspace. 
Almost immediately, the entire Syrian radar system went off the air for 
a period of time that included the raid, say U.S. intelligence analysts.

There was no U.S. active engagement other than consulting on potential 
target vulnerabilities, says a U.S. electronic warfare specialist.

Elements of the attack included some brute-force jamming, which is still 
an important element of attacking air defenses, U.S. analysts say. Also, 
Syrian air defenses are still centralized and dependent on dedicated HF 
and VHF communications, which made them vulnerable. The analysts dont 
believe any part of Syrias electrical grid was shut down. They do 
contend that network penetration involved both remote air-to-ground 
electronic attack and penetration through computer-to-computer links.

There also were some higher-level, nontactical penetrations, either 
direct or as diversions and spoofs, of the Syrian command-and-control 
capability, done through network attack, says an intelligence 

These observations provide evidence that a sophisticated network attack 
and electronic hacking capability is an operational part of the Israel 
Defense Forces arsenal of digital weapons.

Despite being hobbled by the restrictions of secrecy and diplomacy, 
Israeli military and government officials confirm that network invasion, 
information warfare and electronic attack are part of Israels defense 

Theyve been embraced operationally by key military units, but their 
development, use and the techniques employed are still a mystery even to 
other defense and government organizations. It remains a shadowy world, 
says an Israeli air force general. Israel is not alone in recent 
demonstrations of network warfare. Syria and Hezbollah showed some basic 
expertise during the Lebanon conflict last year.

Offensive and defensive network warfare is one of the most interesting 
new areas, says Pinchas Buchris, director general of the Israeli defense 
ministry. I can only say were following the [network attack] technology 
with great care. I doubted this [technology] five years ago. But we did 
it. Now everything has changed.

You need this kind of capability, he says. Youre not being responsible 
if youre not dealing with it. And, if you can build this kind of 
capability, the skys the limit [for sophisticated intelligence gathering 
and clandestine operations].

So far, the most sophisticated example of nonkinetic warfare is the 
penetration of Syrian air defenses by Israeli aircraft on Sept. 6 to 
bomb a siteanalyzed as a nascent nuclear facilitywithout being engaged 
or even detected. Commercial satellite pictures of the target on the 
Euphrates (about 90 mi. from the Iraq border) taken before and after the 
raid show that a large building (the suspected reactor building) in the 
center of the site has disappeared and the ground has been bulldozed 

The incident is attracting attention because the Syrians have an 
extensive air defense system that theyve been building for decadessince 
the [1967] Six-Day War, says an Israeli defense planning official. It 
may be the largest in the world.

That ability of nonstealthy Israeli aircraft to penetrate without 
interference rests in part on technology, carried on board modified 
aircraft, that allowed specialists to hack into Syrias networked air 
defense system, said U.S. military and industry officials in the attacks 
aftermath. Network raiders can conduct their invasion from an aircraft 
into a network and then jump from network to network until they are into 
the targets communications loop. Whether the network is wireless or 
wired doesnt matter anymore, says a U.S. industry specialist (AW&ST Nov. 
5, p. 32; Oct. 8, p. 28; Feb. 19, p. 31). Now development of the 
technology in Israel is being confirmed.

The raid on Syria was a strategic signal, not a threat, says a retired 
senior military official who flew combat in the region for decades. This 
[raid] was about what we perceived are their capabilities [for 
developing weapons of mass destruction] and about deterrence more than 
creating damage.

He contends that Syrian procedures even contributed to the successful 
bombing raid.

Part of the vulnerability of the Syrian facility was that they kept it 
so secret that there werent enough air defenses assigned to it, the 
official contends.

Israels capabilities are similar to the Suter network-invasion 
capability that was developed by the U.S. using the EC-130 Compass Call 
electronic attack aircraft to shoot data streams, laced with 
sophisticated algorithms, into enemy antennas. The passive, RC-135 Rivet 
Joint electronic surveillance aircraft then monitored enemy signals to 
ensure the data streams were having the intended effect on the target 
sensors. Israel duplicated the capability when it fielded its two new 
Gulfstream G550 special missions aircraft designs. Both were modified by 
Israel Aerospace Industries Elta Div. in time for the 2006 Lebanon war. 
The ground surveillance radar version can provide data streams from 
large active, electronically scanned array radars, while the 
intelligence version provided the signals surveillance and analyses.


Copyright 2007 Aviation Week, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

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