The Russian government has reported that it plans to install the Pole-21 anti-missile jamming device on civilian cellular network towers. By leveraging existing infrastructures within the Federation, the Kremlin hopes to ensure a wide coverage area in the event of a missile attack.
Throughout the Cold War, the USSR made constant preparations for a U.S.-led attack – nuclear or otherwise. Fear of mutually assured destruction loomed large over both superpowers, but after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the decades-long standoff saw relations between Russia and the U.S. warming up to remain relatively stable.
Recent events in Ukraine, however, combined with U.N. economic sanctions have yet again caused tension between a NATO-led coalition and the Russian Federation.
Whether inspired by global geopolitics or routine national security concerns, Russia is shoring up its territory with plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.
“the slightest deviation from the designated frequency even for milliseconds will result in a loss of accuracy.” – Anton Lavrov
Efficacy of the Pole-21 Missile Defense System
The system will be installed on 250,000 existing civilian cellular towers across the Russian Federation. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, once the Pole–21 installations are complete, Russia will be virtually impenetrable to missiles using satellite navigation.
Despite the fact that U.S. cruise missiles like the Tomahawk are equipped with sophisticated anti-jamming technology, Russian military analyst Anton Lavrov explained to Russian newspaper Izvestia that “the slightest deviation from the designated frequency even for milliseconds will result in a loss of accuracy.”
There is also the concern that the Pole-21 network would interfere with Russian navigation and communication systems. However, momentarily disrupting internal communications might be worth it if the Pole-21’s brief activation is enough to throw off an incoming missile’s trajectory.
Something else to consider: Like the majority of the USSR’s infamously optimistic Five-Year Plans, the Russian Federation has a reputation for announcing advances in military technology that do not always come to (immediate) fruition.
Yet, the O.E. Watch newsletter, which is published monthly by the U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office, mentioned that the jamming devices did seem like part of a larger movement by the Russian military to prepare for a large-scale assault.