U.S. Has Sent Threat-Emitters To Ukraine To Confuse Russian Aircraft


A U.S. Air Force threat emitter at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in 2020.

Credit: U.S. Air Force

SIMI VALLEY, California—The U.S. military has sent threat emitters, built to replicate aircraft and weapons for American pilots in training, to Ukraine to confuse Russian aircraft in the latest innovative way for the Pentagon to assist Kyiv.

U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. says the low-cost emitters were built for ranges inside the U.S. but now are in the hands of Ukrainians. The emitters can replicate surface-to-air missiles and aircraft, and are a cheap, innovative way to further complicate the air picture for Russia.

Brown raised the example as a way the Pentagon can find quick ways to address problems during a crisis, like the delivery of Raytheon AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM) to Ukraine that the Pentagon announced in August.

Before the invasion, Brown said the idea of modifying a HARM to work on a Mikoyan MiG-29 would have been immediately dismissed as too difficult. But in this time of crisis, the Pentagon and contractors were able to make it work. 

“So there are ways to work with industry and those who actually build systems to figure out the details and move forward in certain areas because of a need and driving a sense of urgency,” he says.

The military and industry needs to keep this thinking going, and not “go back to our regularly scheduled program,” he says. “We’ve got to think crisis-like ahead of a crisis so that we are better postured and prepared.”

Brian Everstine

Brian Everstine is the Pentagon Editor for Aviation Week, based in Washington, D.C. Before joining Aviation Week in August 2021, he covered the Pentagon for Air Force Magazine. Brian began covering defense aviation in 2011 as a reporter for Military Times.