February 4, 2023

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Finnmark Air Ambulance Possible GPS Jammed by Russia – NRK Troms, Finnmark

Russia has adopted jamming To secure its airspace against long-range precision weapons.

It happens after Ukraine carried out drone attacks against military targets deep inside Russia, according to the report Factisk.no.

This GPS jamming also affects Finnmark, a newspaper iFinnmark mentioned earlier this week.

– We are witnessing that we are losing GPS signals in Eastern Finnmark and we have several reports confirming this.

That’s what Nikolai Hamry, Babcock’s flight commander, told NRK. It is the company responsible for air ambulance flights in Norway.

– We have not received any confirmation that it is coming from the Russian side. We only know that we lose satellite signals from GPS and GPS based navigation systems when we are in the eastern parts of Finnmark.

Babcock’s flight leader, Nikolai Hamri, says there are several indications that the GPS jamming they are experiencing in eastern Finnmark is coming from the east.

Photo: private

– There are many indications that it comes from Russia, but we cannot conclude that yet, he asserts.

But he noticed one thing.

– The farther west we go, the more turbidity we experience in the air. This may indicate that we are experiencing ground GPS interference from the east.

Well prepared

Hamre says they’ve experienced GPS jamming at regular intervals in recent years, but cases have increased sharply in the past two months.

Wideroe experiences the same thing.

In December alone, the airline experienced loss of GPS signals in Finnmark 27 times, according to iFinnmark. By comparison, the number was down to two to three a month before the war.

Hamri asserts that they are well prepared for the situation in eastern Finnmark.

– We have good procedures for this and backup systems that are working as they should. The pilots know it can happen in these areas. Plus, we have other navigational aids to get us down if we get jammed, says flight leader Hamry.

Delay

In the worst case, confusion can mean that the air ambulance does not reach patients, or that they are running late.

– As a result, we often have to fly for longer. Fortunately, so far, we’ve only seen delays of a few minutes. And if we lose GPS signals at a critical point, that’s an added burden, but it’s manageable.

Air Ambulance, Finnmark.  Babcock's plane.

Air Ambulance is having more and more problems with their GPS signals.

Photo: Jan Harald Tomassen/NRK

The closer to Earth they lose GPS signals, Hamre explains, the worse.

So far, we’ve only seen jamming at relatively high altitudes. It did not happen near Earth during the GPS approach. Then it becomes more important. At lower altitudes, it can at worst prevent us from entering airports where there is a patient waiting.

– We have not yet witnessed the inability to reach the patient due to the jamming.

Great rise

Nkom’s chief engineer, Nikolai Gerard, says there has been a significant increase in GPS jamming in eastern Finnmark since the end of February this year.

It has peaked in the past two months.

– Especially during the month of November, there was a lot of activity. Then we recorded 22 days of cases in eastern Finnmark.

Nkom made several measurements in eastern Finnmark and close to the border with Russia. Based on the results, most of the signs indicate that the GPS interference is coming from the Russian side.

– Yes, we have an idea about that. We cannot say that 100 percent, because we only have the authority to make measurements on Norwegian soil. But this is what the measurements indicate.

Nicholas Gerrard

Nkom’s Nikolai Gerard says there will be an increase in the number of GPS jammers in eastern Finnmark in 2022.

Photo: David Jensen

– How likely is it that this is not coming from Russia?

– When we receive reports, we work to exclude different sources. In the vast majority of cases, other possible causes are ruled out. While we can’t say anything with 100 percent certainty, we’re pretty sure this is coming from somewhere outside of Norwegian jurisdiction.

increase after February

In 2022, Nkom has recorded 93 days of GPS jamming. There are more cases than in the years between 2017 and 2021:


There was no complete overlap with February 24 when the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, but we did record a significant increase in GPS jamming in the same period after the invasion, Gerrard says and adds:

We have seen similar increases in the past, for example during NATO’s Trident Juncture exercise in 2018, but not to the extent we see it now.

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