What’s New: Russians are interfering with more than just GPS signals. They are jamming higher power satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) also.
Why It’s Important:
- Calculating one’s location using communications satellites can be an alternative if GPS signals are jammed or spoofed.
- There is some indication Ukrainian forces are using this method to navigate drones and attack Russian forces.
- Several companies are planning dedicated positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) satellite constellations in LEO as GPS supplements and/or alternatives.
What’s the Solution: Using both space and terrestrial PNT systems together can greatly improve a nation’s capabilities and help deter jamming of satellite signals.
- South Korea, China, Iran and Russia all use space and terrestrial systems together.
- The US has been saying it would do this since 2008, but has not done anything (ask [email protected] if you want to know why).
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 put Ukrainian communications in a literal jam: Just before the invasion, Russian hackers knocked out Viasat satellite ground receivers across Europe. Then entrepreneur Elon Musk swept in to offer access to Starlink, SpaceX’s growing network of low Earth orbit (LEO) communications satellites. Musk soon reported that Starlink was suffering from jamming attacks and software countermeasures.
In March, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) concluded that Russia was still trying to jam Starlink, according to documents leaked by U.S. National Guard airman Ryan Teixeira and seen by the Washington Post. Ukrainian troops have likewise blamed problems with Starlink on Russian jamming, the website Defense One reports. If Russia is jamming a LEO constellation, it would be a new layer in the silent war in space-ground communications.