Russia claims to have weapon that could cripple the US Navy

Jon Sharman
A computer simulation of the alleged electronic attack: Vesti

Russian attack jets carry electronic weapons that can cripple the US Navy's missile defence system, Russian state media has claimed.

Russia-1's Vesti programme said an electronic warfare device called "Khibiny" was used by a Russian pilot to completely deactivate the defence systems of the USS Donald Cook in a 2014 encounter in the Black Sea.

The US' Aegis system, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, is designed to protect a fleet against attacks by aircraft, and cruise and ballistic missiles.

But the state-controlled Vesti broadcast claimed the pilot of a Sukhoi Su-24 jet was able to deactivate "the whole ship's systems" with "powerful radio-electronic waves" during the fly-by incident three years ago, around the time of Russia's annexation of Crimea.

"You don't need to have expensive weapons to win [a war], powerful radio-electronic jamming is enough," it added.

At the time the US military confirmed the Donald Cook, a guided missile destroyer, had encountered a pair of Su-24s that repeatedly flew near it in the Black Sea.

But a spokesman, Army Col Steve Warren, said then: "The Donald Cook is more than capable of defending itself against two Su-24s."

The three-year gap between the weapon's use and the broadcast was not explained by Vesti, whose report came at a time of diplomatic tension between the US and Russia.

Both President Donald Trump and his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, have admitted relations between the countries are at a low point.

During a tense visit with his counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, earlier this month, Mr Tillerson said the world’s "two foremost nuclear powers cannot have this kind of relationship".

And ahead of an off-camera meeting with Mr Tillerson, Vladimir Putin noted in an interview that "one could say that the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved, but rather has deteriorated".

The US Department of Defence has been contacted for comment.

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