NATO deploys Czech STARKOM dual jammer and surveillance system in Slovakia

On November 9, 2023, the NATO Multinational Battlegroup Slovakia deployed the STARKOM mobile communication jammer to its training center in Pliesovce, Slovakia. Deployed to the Czech Armed Forces since 2022, the STARKOM (STAvebnicový Rušič KOMunikační - Modular Communication Jammer) system is not only a powerful jamming tool for electronic countermeasures but also a mobile platform that can perform electronic support measures and signal intelligence (SIGINT).
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Mounted on a Tatra Force T-815-7T3RC1 8×8 chassis, the STARKOM system is designed to jam both aerial and land targets on the operational-tactical level across various spectrums (Picture source: Twitter)

The STARKOM system replaces outdated technology, such as the MORUŠ kit jammers, previously mounted on Praga V3S vehicles. This modernization effort, initiated by the Ministry of Defence in 2019, aimed at introducing state-of-the-art electronic warfare capabilities into the Czech Armed Forces. The project initially estimated a cost below CZK 1 billion (approximately $43,537,940), but due to delays, increased material costs, and evolving requirements, the final cost reached CZK 1.45 billion ($63,130,013).

The unveiling of the STARKOM system in December 2022 marked a significant moment for the Czech Army as the vehicle was developed and manufactured entirely within the Czech Republic. The main contractor for the STARKOM system project was the state-owned VVU Brno military research institute, with key hardware components and software provided by specialized Czech jamming systems manufacturer URC Systems, supported by the systems engineering company JISR Institute.

The Czech Army is set to acquire a total of eight sets of these advanced systems by the end of 2023 to enhance its electronic warfare capabilities. Members of the 532nd Electronic Warfare Battalion are currently undergoing intensive training to familiarize themselves with the STARKOM system.

Mounted on the Tatra Force T-815-7T3RC1 8×8 chassis, the STARKOM is designed to jam both aerial and land targets on the operational-tactical level with the capacity to disrupt enemy communications across various spectrums.

Its capabilities encompass countering modern frequency-agile systems, including frequency-hopping, and disrupting analog and digital voice and data communications in VHF/UHF/SHF bands. It also possesses the capability to interfere with Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) bands of mobile networks, showcasing its adaptability to diverse communication landscapes.

The STARKOM system functions not only as a static electronic warfare asset but also as a highly mobile platform capable of executing tactical electronic attacks and defenses on the move. Its automatic deployment of antenna systems, coupled with a self-sustaining power supply, distinguishes it from conventional electronic warfare systems, providing a tactical advantage in dynamic scenarios.

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The STARKOM jamming system includes an automatic deployment system of its antennas, coupled with a self-sustaining power supply, which distinguishes it from other electronic warfare systems (Picture source: Wikimedia)

Equipped with multiple masts and antenna systems, the STARKOM boasts extensive interference capabilities across a broad spectrum of communication channels. Its disruptive potential extends beyond traditional radio communications, covering command and control systems, air communications, mobile phone communications, and global positioning satellite signals.

Key features of the STARKOM system include a protective jammer against radio-launched explosive devices, communication technologies, filter ventilation, multispectral camouflage, and a 360° camera system. The proven Tatra Force 8x8 chassis platform provides mine and ballistic protection for both the crew and technology. In situations of imminent threat, the STARKOM system is armed with an FN Minimi machine gun.

The system's versatility is further demonstrated in its dual role as a powerful jamming tool for electronic countermeasures and as a surveillance sensor for electronic support measures. It can conduct signal intelligence (SIGINT), direction-finding, and detailed analysis of enemy radio signals. The electronic protective measures capability of the STARKOM facilitates the jamming of radio-controlled improvised explosive devices (RCIEDs) across various frequency spectrums, covering commercial radios, radio-controlled models, mobile phones, WiFi, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Depending on the configuration, the STARKOM system can achieve an output power of up to 1.8 kW, emphasizing its potency in disrupting enemy communication systems. The modular design allows for different configurations, including support for targeting signal sources (DF) and/or support for the HF band.

In terms of deployment and operational capabilities, the STARKOM system offers a range of features, including reactive jamming, quick electronic attack, smart jamming algorithms, and radio reconnaissance and surveillance sensor (ESM) capabilities. Operating on a mobile platform, the system provides a high probability of survival on the battlefield, further enhancing its effectiveness in dynamic and rapidly changing environments.

Covering a broad frequency range from 30 MHz to 6 GHz, the STARKOM system ensures compatibility with a diverse spectrum of communication frequencies. Its ability to modulate various signal types, including AM, FM, CW, FSK, and PSK, coupled with an impressive scanning speed of 107 GHz/s, highlights its agility in quickly adapting to different electronic warfare scenarios.