Blog Editor’s Note: We don’t normally give space here to Russian propaganda, but this piece, re-posted by GPS Daily from Sputnik News, is noteworthy for several reasons.
First, the Russians have spent a good part of the last 12 months demonstrating how they can defeat GPS with spoofing (Ukraine, Black Sea, Baltic Sea, Moscow) and jamming (Norway, Sweden, Latvia). They have been clearly messaging their power in this area. This Sputnik article is consistent with all this activity and messaging.
Second, the Russians have always been very proud of their electronic warfare capabilities. In 2015 Sputnik News bragged “Russian E-Warriors Render Aircraft Carriers Useless.” Knowing the US military’s reliance upon electronics, the Russians have gotten very good at exploiting that weakness.
Third, in this case the propaganda is solidly based in fact. The article’s comparison of GPS signals to the whine of a mosquito and their jamming to the roar of an aircraft engine is not far off. And it will be very difficult for the US military to develop new systems against which the Russians cannot quickly develop a counter measure.
One strategy the US military might consider is employing a system that uses a high power signal. Then any jammer would also have to transmit at high power and would be easily to locate and eliminate.
Why Russia is one step ahead of US Army’s plans for future GPS
by Staff Writers
Moscow (Sputnik) Feb 12, 2018
The Pentagon and Israel’s Defense Ministry have launched ‘Urban Navigation Challenge’, a startup competition to create advanced ‘counter-terror’ navigation systems which don’t use GPS. The project makes no mention of officially designated US “rivals” like Russia or China, but according to Russian experts, it would make no difference even if it did.
The project, officially dubbed the Combating Terrorism Technology Startup Challenge (CTTSC3), includes over $200,000 in prizes for ideas using technology like radio beacons, preloaded electronic maps, step counters, and other solutions which do not require an uplink to the US military’s Global Positioning System (GPS).
The project is presumably meant to complement Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) research in the field, including that agency’s so-called Adaptable Navigation Systems (ANS) project.
Adopted by the Pentagon in 1993, GPS was originally designed to determine the coordinates of warships, military aircraft and ground units. However, as Russian military observer Vadim Saranov has pointed out, the system’s main benefit for the military gradually became its ability to open new horizons in the development of precision weapons.
For example, the journalist wrote, “while the Tomahawk Block II cruise missile in 1991’s Desert Storm had an accuracy of about 70%, in Yugoslavia in 1999, the Americans fired Tomahawk Block III missiles fitted with GPS-guidance, which increased accuracy to 90%.”
In the years since, dozens of other GPS-dependent munitions systems have been created, including SDB and JDAM-bombs, ‘smart’ M982 Excalibur artillery shells, and even the 120-mm PERM mortar round.
However, while GPS, in combination with traditional inertial guidance systems, allows for the accuracy of some US ammunition to reach as little as 1-2 meters from the target, experts say that this effect is possible only in ‘hothouse conditions’, against an enemy which is much weaker.
Speaking to RIA Novosti, Aleksei Levchenkov, the director of TeKnol, a private technology firm specializing in the development and production of navigation systems for civilian application, explained that basically, “satellite guidance for high-precision weapons only allows one to conduct policing tasks.”
“If there is resistance in the form of radio-electronic warfare systems, you can forget about satellites. In this case there are only two guidance methods – inertial or target illumination,” the engineer stressed.
The weak power of satellite signals, which can be muted or snuffed out even by compact, handheld jamming systems presently under development, makes the Pentagon’s concern for finding alternatives fully justified, Saranov noted.
Last August, Kalashnikov Concern unveiled the Rex-1, a non-lethal anti-drone weapon weighing just 4.2 kg that’s capable of jamming the connection between a drone and its operators, including GPS, GSM and Wi-Fi, to a radius of up to five km.
‘Mosquito Squeak Vs Roar of An Aircraft Engine’
Although the Pentagon has concentrated efforts over the last several years to reduce the vulnerability of its military GPS connection, including through Air Force testing of anti-jamming antennae for satnav receivers starting in 2013, these efforts have shown only a marginal increase in signal security.
Speaking to Saranov, the representative of another company designing GSM and GPS signal suppression systems pointed out that there simply are “no effective means to protect satellite signals against interference, and they are unlikely to ever be created.”
“If one compares the useful GPS signal to the squeak of a mosquito, the power of a modern electronic suppression system is like the roar of an airplane’s engine as it takes off,” the official, preferring to remain unnamed, said.