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Norway, UK Discuss eLoran Timing

March 20, 2016

The following was published by the Norwegian media outlet Bladet Vestralen.
Translation Courtesy of Mr. Jens Hoxmark and Prof. David Last

Loran Demolition stopped

By Mareno Leonhardsen
Published:17 March 2016

Bø: Minister of Transport and Communications Ketil Solvik-Olsen has called a halt to the demolition of Norwegian Loran-C stations.

 This emerges from a letter from the Norwegian ministry to the British Government, which has approached Norway regarding cooperation on a new eLoran system designed to protect against the loss or malfunctioning of satellite systems:

“Thank you for your letter regarding the UK’s interest in the eLoran system.

As you know, The Norwegian Government considers the Loran-C system to be obsolete and consequently has decided to terminate the system by the end of 2015. Furthermore, we have not considered it a viable option to upgrade the system to an eLoran configuration to be used as a source for resilient positioning, navigation and timing. Therefore, we had planned to dismantle the Loran-C transmitters.

Pending

However, in light of new developments, I have decided to postpone the dismantling of the Loran-C infrastructure for the time being.

Based on your inquiry, I support your suggestion for a meeting to discuss the matter and would like to hear your views on how the United Kingdom envisages the use of eLoran, and how you based on information from UK industry envisage the use of the Norwegian Loran transmitters.

I would suggest that we make arrangements to set up a meeting as soon as possible” replied Minister of Transport Ketil Solvik-Olsen to Prime Minister David Cameron’s “right-hand man” The Right Honourable Oliver Letwin.

Investing

During a current hearing into “digital vulnerability and a secure society” ‘, Luftfartstilsynet (the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority) has pointed out the relationship between eLoran and the risk of losing of timing for digital infrastructure:- “In the Section dealing with Loran-C and eLoran there is no mention of a the recent vulnerability assessment carried out in USA. As a result of this, the USA has changed its policy and will focus on Enhanced Loran (eLoran) as back-up for Navstar GPS”. It also noted that competent expert groups had pointed out that eLoran would be able to broadcast warnings in the event of GNSS signals becoming unreliable or being jammed. The CAA strongly recommended considering investment in upgrading to eLoran, and quoted from NOU 2015:13: “An assessment should take into account the interests of multiple user groups and sectors in an overall cost-benefit analysis that is rooted in a realistic threat scenario.”

Disturbances: At its best this would lead to a safer society and a few jobs. That ATMs will go on working and ships stay in their channels.

Risky

It’s now well understood how dependent we have made ourselves on satellite signals, so atmospheric disturbances, terrorism and other events can put our society out of service for long periods. Only recently have the governments of a number of countries begun to consider how to protect themselves against these threats.

Norway has four navigation stations that could be used to establish such security, if they were upgraded. One of these, close to Bø, played a vital role in controlling the old Loran which was switched off at New Year. The job of dismantling the equipment began right away.

Wakeup call

The Brits got a clear wakeup call on 26 January 2016, when many services were knocked out by a minor error in GPS-synchronised systems, including BBC broadcasts across their DAB network: Perhaps it was not a very good idea to become so dependent on others in this sector? Evil tongues said: ‘Even Hitler failed to put the BBC off the air for as long as a time glitch in a single satellite managed’ on that January day.

The Brits believe eLoran can provide the UK with adequate security in this sector. The English want to see more eLoran operating alongside their own and are therefore on a course to persuade Norway to stay on the air, according to the understanding of Bladet Vesteraalen.

 

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