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Ukraine rolls out secure radio to counter Russian electronic warfare

The HIMERA radio utilizes advanced Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) technology to counter Russia’s electronic warfare tactics effectively, creating a nearly undetectable communication system.
Credit: Mykhailo Fedorov/TG channel
Ukraine rolls out secure radio to counter Russian electronic warfare

Ukraine’s digital transformation minister Mykhailo Fedorov announced that Ukrainian developers have created a radio called Himera that can operate despite Russian electronic warfare jamming.

“The enemy constantly uses electronic warfare (EW) tools to counter the Defense Forces. So that our military always has communication and can effectively coordinate subunit work, Ukrainian developers created the Himera radio,” the minister said.

According to Fedorov, this “unique technology” can work despite Russian electronic warfare systems. The Russians cannot block or decrypt its signals. The radio can hold a charge for up to four days.

The radio can also be integrated into a situational awareness system or used as a GPS beacon for finding and evacuating soldiers. A smartphone app can control the entire radio system.

Fedorov said Himera was named the best defense-tech startup at IT Arena 2023 and received $10,000 to scale up product development. The radio was first presented at the Inscience Conference 2023 in Kyiv in June.

The HIMERA G1 Handheld Radio specifications include:

  • Autonomy: 4 days (in a 10/90 transmit/standby mode)
  • Environmental protection level: IP65
  • Operating temperature: -10 to +85 degrees Celsius
  • Bluetooth 5.0 for smartphone connectivity
  • Connectors: USB Type-C, 3.5mm (for headphones)

According to ArmyInform, this radio device boasts robust 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption. It employs frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) technology to thwart electronic warfare efforts, making it nearly impossible to detect.

The FHSS technology enables the radio to constantly switch frequencies, rendering it extremely challenging for adversaries to target. In stark contrast, conventional radios with a 5-watt output can be disrupted by enemy electronic warfare equipment generating just 100 watts. The HIMERA G1 leverages a broad frequency range, ensuring that even if an adversary deploys more than 1 kilowatt of power, the interference level remains barely perceptible, allowing for effective radio communication.

HIMERA radio. Credit: Mykhailo Fedorov/TG channel

Furthermore, the HIMERA radio’s low radiation power makes it exceptionally difficult for Russian forces to detect its signals using electronic reconnaissance systems. Its nominal power output is several times less than a typical radio, making it nearly impervious to detection unless the adversary is close.

One of the standout features of the HIMERA G1 is its impressive battery life, lasting up to four days in a 10% transmit and 90% standby mode. It charges through the widely adopted Type-C connector. It can be used with standard 3.5mm headphones or modified for military headsets with a push-to-talk (PTT) button, requiring minimal adjustments.

Securing these radio devices also involves knowing the user’s password, entered directly within the unit, adding an extra layer of protection.

These radios are assembled in Ukraine, primarily using Ukrainian components, making them an affordable option at approximately $110.Ukrainian defense forces have already started deploying these radios at the front lines.

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Even the engineers behind HIMERA G1 find it challenging to locate these radios in operation, given their vast array of over 65,000 hopping channels. This is significant, considering Russian forces possess some of the world’s most advanced electronic warfare systems, causing major disruption to Ukrainian military operations.

These systems, such as the “Zoopark” radar, “Zhitel” jamming devices, and “Borisoglebsk-2” satellite communication disruptors, enable the detection and interception of mobile phones and radios, making secure communication challenging. For lack of any other safe means of communication, Ukrainian units use older field phones with rotary dials, ensuring communication between trenches through underground cables, making it impossible for Russian electronic warfare to intercept or eavesdrop on their conversations.

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