Ukraine intel names companies whose guidance microchips found in Russian weapons

Illustrative image. Source

Russo-Ukrainian war 2022-2023

Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (HUR) says that several American and European companies keep producing the microchips that support the “Russian GPS” GLONASS navigation system as Russia continues to purchase them to use these chips in its missiles and drones for guidance.

For several weeks now Russia has been conducting a military campaign to destroy the Ukrainian civilian energy infrastructure in order to leave the country without electricity, heating, and running water during the winter. The primary weapon used in the attacks on power plants and substations is the cruise missiles using GLONASS for navigation.

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“Russian missiles do not reach their targets without precise coordinates determined by navigation systems, [says] the Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine. To guide missiles, Russia uses its development of GLONASS, an analogue of GPS. GLONASS was created in 1982 by the order of the Ministry of Defenсe of the USSR. Although GLONASS is a dual-purpose system, it is primarily used by the russian military to target Ukrainian cities,” the Directorate wrote.

HUR says that the GLONASS is the Russian navigation system’s weak point as it depends on foreign-produced GLONASS-enabled microchips. Such chips “receive and process coordinates from GLONASS, and the missiles use this information to navigate in space and aim at Ukrainian civil and energy infrastructure.”

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According to HUR, these Western companies produce microchips with GLONASS support to this day:

  • Linx Technologies (USA);
  • Broadcom (USA);
  • Qualcomm (USA);
  • Telit (USA);
  • Maxim Integrated (USA);
  • Cavli Wireless (USA);
  • U-blox AG (Switzerland);
  • STMicroelectronics (Switzerland);
  • Sierra Wireless (Canada);
  • NovAtel (Canada);
  • Septentrio (Belgium);
  • Antenova (UK).

In turn, Russia keeps purchasing the GLONASS-enabled chips “through numerous shell companies and distributors.”

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According to HUR, these chips are used in the Russian Orlan-10 and Iranian Shahed-136 drones, in Russian rockets for multiple rocket launchers Tornado-S and Smerch, in the Iskander, Kalibr, Kinzhal cruise missiles, as well as in air-based missiles of the Kh-series such as Kh-101, Kh-555, Kh-38, Kh-59MK, Kh-31.

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“Without foreign-made GLONASS-enabled chips, russians will have to build their microelectronics from the ground up. In this case, export control and control by manufacturers will not work because Russia is constantly inventing new ways to circumvent sanctions and purchase technologies. Foreign companies should realise the direct impact of their products on Russia’s defence capabilities, stop producing chips with GLONASS support and remove the function of supporting this navigation system from all their devices,” HUR concludes.

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