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Singapore’s Defense Minister Reveals “Sensitive Mission” of U.S. F-35s in Ukraine

Singapore Defense Minister Dr. Eng Ng Hean detailed how the U.S. has been using its F-35 jets to identify the locations of Russian air defense systems within Ukraine, emphasizing that intelligence gathered by these aircraft is being shared with other NATO member states.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — Singapore’s Defense Minister, Dr. Eng Ng Hean, has indirectly revealed that the United States has deployed its fifth-generation fighter jets, the F-35s, for active operations in Ukraine.

This disclosure implicitly indicates direct U.S. military involvement in the Ukrainian conflict.

 In a speech to the nation’s Parliament recently, he detailed how the U.S. has been using its F-35 jets to identify the locations of Russian air defense systems within Ukraine, emphasizing that intelligence gathered by these aircraft is being shared with other NATO member states.

This confirmation aligns with previous suspicions regarding U.S. activities in the region.

Recently, Singapore announced its acquisition of an additional 12 F-35A jets, supplementing the eight F-35B (VSTOL) models previously ordered.

Britain
F-35

 

The F-35 is not just a conventional fighter jet but also an electronic warfare aircraft equipped with advanced sensors capable of vacuuming necessary intelligence.

 Among these are the APG-81 AFAR radar, AN/ASQ-239 Barracuda electronic warfare system, and the Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS), as well as the Distributed Aperture System (DAS), an infrared sensor network.

The F-35s play a pivotal role in the U.S. and NATO’s electronic warfare network, aimed at gathering intelligence on Russian forces in Ukraine.

Despite the F-35’s sophistication in electronic and intelligence warfare, there are reports suggesting Russia has devised methods to protect its assets from Western surveillance.

 At the onset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the U.S. deployed its fifth-generation F-35 fighters to Baltic states like Estonia, Lithuania, and Romania to patrol their borders with Russia.

Operating in stealth mode, these aircraft, from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings based in Germany, undertook Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) missions to detect frequencies emitted by Russian air defense systems and fighter jets, aiding NATO in understanding potential threats from the Russian invasion.

F-35

According to Air Force Times, these U.S. Air Force fifth-generation fighters successfully tracked most Russian air defense systems in Ukraine and Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave bordering Poland.

However, not all Russian air defense systems in Ukraine could be detected by these advanced combat aircraft.

In some missions, the F-35s were unable to identify military equipment, including the long-range S-300 air defense system, as it could conceal its presence.

“We observed the SA-20 system (NATO designation for the S-300). I was aware it was the SA-20 system, and intelligence reports also indicated that the SA-20 was operational in the area. However, my aircraft failed to identify it, possibly because the air defense system was operating in a ‘war reserve mode’ that had not been encountered before,” stated an officer from the United States Air Force.

F-35
F-35A

 

This inability to detect certain frequencies posed a significant concern for the safety of NATO and Ukrainian aerial operations, highlighting the S-300 system as a considerable challenge to U.S. forces.

It is standard practice for air defense systems to not use their actual frequencies during peacetime, a mode known as “war reserve,” to prevent adversaries from discovering their true frequencies.

Members of these air defense systems operate in “war reserve” mode to avoid detection by enemy forces.

Despite the F-35’s touted electronic warfare capabilities, this failure demonstrates Russia’s countermeasures, including potentially operating its defense systems in an unrecognized “war reserve mode,” complicating Western intelligence efforts. — DSA

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