Putin Goes All Out Jamming, Spoofing GPS

October 23, 2016
Photo: By Kremlin.ru

Despotic regimes have to be paranoid. Two recent news items show that the Russians are particularly and extremely concerned about the power that GPS and other satnav systems give to both nations and ordinary people.

The first is the Russian military’s plan to leverage the nation’s 250,000 cell phone towers to create a GPS/GNSS jamming network. The idea is that, if a cruise missile is detected the jamming network would activate disabling all satellite navigation services in the area and disorienting the missile.  – Never mind that US missiles are designed to counter just such an eventuality.  Here is the report in “Izvestia,” and here in the Army’s Oct 2016 (page 38) “O.E. Watch magazine.

The second is the news that the Russians are apparently spoofing GPS near the Kremlin.  A young Russian blogger has discovered and revealed (we are pretty sure we don’t want to be him right now) that GPS receivers around the Kremlin display positions that are miles away. Here is the report in the UK’s “Telegraph” newspaper.

No word on whether signals from the Russian GLONASS satnav system are similarly impacted, but we can’t imagine why Russian authorities would not spoof them also.

Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and other nations have been actively interfering with GPS outside their own borders for years to frustrate US operations and goals. These are the first public reports we have seen of any of our adversaries jamming or spoofing inside their own borders.

When you think about it, it is a very nice Russian complement to the US on the importance and usefulness of our GPS gift to the world.

It is also a great reminder of the many forces out there that can and do actively interfere with GPS’s highly precise, but very weak, signals.