France and Norway remain resolute in their determination to surrender their national sovereignty and increase their exposure to attacks on critical infrastructure from criminals and terrorists with easily obtainable $300 devices.
Time and locations services from satellite navigation systems like GPS and Europe’s Galileo are used by virtually every critical infrastructure from telecommunications to transportation. This has been officially recognized in the US since a Presidential National Security Directive in 2004, and has been repeatedly confirmed by leading scientists and engineers (including DR Brad Parkinson, the ‘father of GPS), the US Department of Homeland Security and others. The US is currently finalizing its approach for a terrestrial system to “complement and backup” GPS. We understand that the only candidate is eLoran.
Russia, China, Iran, India, S. Korea, and others already have operational Loran systems. The reasons often cited by those nations are that time and location services are so important they don’t want their nations to depend solely on weak signals from space. Also that they want one source that is under their soverign control.
Not so, apparently, with France and Norway. On the first of this month the United Kingdom issued a Notice to Mariners advising that eLoran and Loran-C navigation services in northwest Europe will go off air at 11:00 UTC on 31 December 2015. This is because France and Norway are terminating their signals and the UK’s geographic foot print isn’t big enough to establish a system of their own. As with any navigation system, the spacing and geometry of the transmitters is very important.
France and Norway have not responded to proposals over the last year to establish a Galileo-Earth system that would combine the best of the terrestrial Loran and space-based Galileo systems. Such a marriage would make both much stronger, more accurate and nearly unjammable. This has been in spite of the European Commission’s determination that satnav jamming in France is a huge problem that getting worse. Separately, news accounts have shown terrorists in Europe being arrested with jamming devices, and military-grade jamming being repeatedly used in the Ukraine.
Last week also saw the announcement of a joint venture to provide wireless precise timing services using eLoran transmitters as commercial service.
Interesting that France and Norway should take this action just as the US and commercial entities are heading in the opposite direction.
Their action leaves European infrastructure entirely dependent on weak signals from space that can be easily disrupted by natural phenomenon, human error, or malicious acts.