(in Finland):– Now our pilots are not only reporting on problems in eastern Finnmark. We also recorded GPS interference in Western Finnmark in December, Solli tells iFinnmark.
Russian GPS jammer
Russian GPS jamming has increased to a level never seen before.
GPS (Global Positioning System) is a global navigation system used to determine the exact location, altitude, and speed of devices connected to the system. It was developed by the US Army in 1973, and made available to civilian users in 1996.
GPS works by receiving signals from a network of 24 satellites orbiting the Earth. A GPS receiver on the ground can determine its location by receiving signals from at least four of these satellites and calculating the distance to each of them. This is done using triangulation, where the distance to the satellites is determined using the time it takes for the signal to reach the receiver.
A GPS receiver can also use the signals to determine its speed and direction.
GPS has many uses, including navigation in a car, boat, and on foot, as well as tracking of goods and people. It is also useful for scientific purposes, such as earthquake identification and meteorological data.
GPS is a global system and can be used anywhere on Earth, although accuracy may drop somewhat in areas with poor coverage, such as mountainous areas or in dense forests. It is also possible for GPS signals to be blocked by various structures, such as buildings and bridges.
GPS is an important part of modern technology, and it is becoming increasingly integrated into many aspects of our daily lives, including cell phones, mapping services, and security systems.
GPS is accurate enough to be used for critical navigation, such as aircraft, boats, and large land transportation. It’s also useful for simpler purposes, like finding your way somewhere or tracking your walk with a GPS activity tracker. GPS has become an important part of many people’s daily lives and is found on a variety of devices, including cell phones, tablets, and laptops.
After Ukraine carried out drone strikes against military targets deep inside Russia, Russia adopted jamming to secure its airspace against long-range precision weapons.
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This jamming also affects Norway’s border in Finnmark.
Jamming is a technique used to disable or disable electronic devices by emitting interference signals. This can be done, for example, to prevent unauthorized communication from occurring, or to prevent the enemy from using electronic devices.
Jamming can be done in different ways, depending on what will be jammed. For example, radar signals can be sent to disrupt an aircraft’s radar, or radio signals can be sent to disrupt communication between two devices.
GPS jammers involve the transmission of interference signals that disrupt or impair the GPS receiver’s ability to receive those signals, causing the GPS receiver to be unable to accurately determine its location.
Jamming the GPS can have serious consequences, as GPS is an important technology used in a number of contexts, including navigation of aircraft, boats, and large land transportation. It can also mean that life-saving services cannot communicate or navigate safely. Thus, GPS jammers are prohibited in some countries.
Strong increase in Finnmark
An overview from the Nkom shows that there has been a strong increase in GPS jamming against Norway after the outbreak of war. According to Nkom, there were 81 days of GPS failure in Eastern Finnmark up until November 16.
In 2020, 22 days of loss of GPS signals were recorded, and in 2021 the number dropped to 21. According to Nkom, the increase in 2022 may be related to the war in Ukraine.
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Missing GPS points 27 times (!) so far in December
Widerøe, who works on Finnmark’s short-distance network, notices this in her daily life, Communications Director Katharina Soule confirmed to iFinnmark.
– Since 2018, GPS problems have been reported two or three times a week from our pilots. But Widerøe’s communications director has now stepped up sharply.
And this last time in particular is the worst:
– Our pilots here recorded losing GPS signals 17 times in November. And now in December, it’s already getting worse. So far in December (December 20th), we’ve seen the loss of GPS signals at a whopping 27 times (!). So we are seeing a sharp increase.
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It also stumbled into western Finnmark
Usually this phenomenon occurs in eastern Finnmark.
– The new thing is that our pilots are now also experiencing a loss of GPS signals while flying over Western Finnmark, Solli told iFinnmark on Tuesday morning.
– Is this a big deal for you?
– It creates challenges, Sully begins.
Widerøe: – That’s causing big problems
Then she changed her mind and said:
– Let’s drop the “challenges” and call a spade a spade: yes, that creates big problems for us. We lose one of the systems we normally use to get around. When this system that we usually use falls frequently, at irregular intervals, there is, of course, a problem, as she honestly admits.
But she is also quick to stress that this does not make it dangerous to fly in Finnmark:
– We also have other alternative navigation systems, so it’s still safe to fly, Solli points out to iFinnmark.
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The pilot talked about everyday life
Alexander Waasland, one of Widerøe’s pilots, described to Nordleys last year what happens when an aircraft loses its GPS signals:
Coverage disappears just like on a mobile phone. The signals get weaker, and the accuracy gets worse. In the cockpit of the aircraft, there are separate alarms. Your system shows inaccuracy.
The captain is worried about the development after the Finnmark horror episode: – We lost the signal completely and for a long time. It is rare
The “advantage” of this happening more often is that pilots are now so used to it that they are good at following if they have GPS coverage.
We see a tendency for signals to become weaker before we receive a warning. As GPS accuracy gets weaker, we get visual reports in the cockpit, Wasland says.
Wasland said pilots have to factor in larger margins on the flight when GPS signals go out. Some approaches become impossible to perform. The plane must also go up, since pilots rely on backup systems for navigation.
– We do not have access to systems that are critical to us, such as terrain warning systems. Basically, the loss of GPS makes us put on a worse show, since we have to make up for the loss of GPS ourselves.
concerned in the government
State Minister Johan Vasara (AP) said at the Transport Ministry in August The daily newspaper They were concerned about developments related to GPS jamming.
– We see that such unrest is deliberately used in conflict situations, and it is known that in military conflicts this is actively used as a means of action. The International Aviation Organization (ICAO) recognizes that civil aviation should not be affected. Unfortunately, we see that this was not adhered to, Vasara told Dagbladet.
Norwegian police and rescue services warned in an interview with TV 2 again in 2019.
The first case of blocking GPS signals was recorded in eastern Finnmark by Nkom in 2017. During the NATO Trident Juncture exercise the following year, the range of “GPS jammers” increased, which contributed to the intelligence service’s concern.
– We keep ourselves informed of GPS disturbances. So far I’m not aware that this had any serious consequences, for example on air traffic. We have noticed that frequency has increased and we are following the situation closely, Municipal and County Minister Sigbjørn Gjelsvik tells iFinnmark today.
Unfortunately, his ministry says, they have been subject to GPS interference in the upper air over Finnmark for a long time. Unfortunately, the frequency has also increased recently.
The source of these disturbances lies far and beyond the Norwegian lands. Therefore, what the Norwegian authorities can do about this situation is limited.
Don’t hit the ground
The Norwegian Communications Authority has deployed measuring stations in Finnmark that detect interference with the Global Positioning System (GPS). When disturbances were reported in the upper air layers, these measurement stations did not record disturbances at lower altitudes. Therefore, ground-level activity, such as a potential rescue operation or hikers using a GPS receiver, should not be affected with disturbances, the Ministry of Local Government informs iFinnmark.
Nor is the ministry aware that the disturbances have so far had serious consequences for aviation in Finnmark.
The frequencies that GPS uses in particular are the turbulent frequencies. There are also other satellite navigation systems such as Galileo, BeiDou, and GLONASS. Navigation equipment that can use these systems may be less susceptible to the impact of the disturbances involved.
Address Putin directly
The Norwegian government had previously confronted the Russian authorities with “jamming GPS” in northern Norway, but Russia denied that it was behind such disturbances against the Norwegian airspace.
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In December 2020, then-Prime Minister Erna Solberg (h) told VG that quiet diplomacy ensured that Norway was able to Stop “GPS jammers” in Russia in northern Norway.
Statistics from Nkom show that the disturbances have increased in the following two years.
– The problem was raised directly with Putin, but we did not register any long-term improvements, said senior engineer Nikolai Gerard in the Department of Supervision and Direction of the National Communications Authority to Dagbladet this summer.
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