Stars and Stripes – Ramstein’s visit highlights network security as Ukraine aims to tackle Russian cyberattacks

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Staff Sgt. AJ Juarez, a C-17 and C-5 crew chief, shows the Cpts. Volodymyr Bren, right, and Volodymyr Shkrobtak, Ukrainian Air Force air traffic controllers, an operations manual for the C-17 inside the cockpit during a tour of the aircraft on August 5 2021, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan / Stars and Stripes)

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Ukrainian officers training with American airmen this week reviewed secure communication methods that could aid Ukraine in its seven-year conflict with Russia.

U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa have offered a visit by 10 Ukrainian Air Force personnel, the first to Ramstein Air Base in more than two years, to strengthen cooperation between the two militaries, officials said. the Air Force.

“Mainly because of the war … we are trying to develop a secure communication system with encryption, like a secret network,” said Colonel Yevhen Puchkov, a member of the Ukrainian Air Force command who heads a focused department. on cybersecurity and other communication systems.

Air advisers from 435 Emergency Response Support Squadron in Ramstein hosted the group and held sessions on combat communications and air traffic control.

Staff Sgt.  Breck Martin, air advisor and C-17 loadmaster with the 435th Emergency Response Support Squadron, shows Col. Dmytro Lapitskyi, a Ukrainian Air Force air controller and former bomber pilot, the hydraulic system on the back of a C-17 aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
Staff Sgt. Breck Martin, air advisor and C-17 loadmaster with the 435th Emergency Response Support Squadron, shows Col. Dmytro Lapitskyi, a Ukrainian Air Force air controller and former bomber pilot, the hydraulic system on the back of a C-17 aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Jennifer H. Svan / Stars and Stripes)

“COVID being COVID, we have had things on the table that have been set aside, and it is important for us to get involved with Ukraine again,” said Kevin O’Brien, USAFE’s head of international affairs. for Romania and Ukraine. “This is an extremely important area and an extremely difficult situation at the moment there. It’s on our periphery, and we need to be involved.

Ukraine and Russia have been fighting since 2014, when Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula. Ukrainian defense officials have said the conflict between their troops and Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine has left at least 14,000 dead.

Earlier this year, Kiev accused Moscow of launching cyber attacks on its internet networks as part of a “hybrid war” against Ukraine, a charge Russia denies, Reuters reported.

As it seeks to strengthen its communication systems against Russian interference, Ukraine is also keen to develop mobile communication capabilities on the ground, O’Brien said.

Airmen from the 1st Communications Maintenance Squadron show members of the Ukrainian Air Force a machine capable of repairing fiber optic cables at Kapaun Air Base in Kaiserslautern, Germany, August 5, 2021.
Airmen from the 1st Communications Maintenance Squadron show members of the Ukrainian Air Force a machine capable of repairing fiber optic cables at Kapaun Air Base in Kaiserslautern, Germany, August 5, 2021 (Jennifer H. Svan / Stars and Stripes)

“Everything they have is tied to a base,” he said. “Before they buy equipment and invest, we wanted to show them how we do it. ”

At Kapaun Air Station in Kaiserslautern, Ukrainians saw an autonomous network, overflowing with wires, where the 1st The Communications Maintenance Squadron trains to perform emergency repairs, upgrades and maintenance.

The Ukrainians were also taken to the unit’s 65-foot tower, on which the airmen practice rock climbing and abseiling. The skills are needed to maintain high frequency towers at Lajes Field in the Azores that support communications over the Atlantic Ocean.

“Are you doing the same? Someone asked the Ukrainians as they looked at the tower.

“We are too old for this job,” replied one of the Ukrainian officers.



Jennifer H. Svan



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