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Korean threats highlight need for GPS alternative – ME&C

September 29, 2017

Marine Electronics & Communications

Wed 16 Aug 2017 by Martyn Wingrove

Editor Martyn Wingrove expects the threat of another Korean war will lead to investment in maritime security and alternatives to GPS

Heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula highlights the need for investment in alternatives to satellites for ship positioning.

Maritime security should be enhanced worldwide with alternatives to Global Navigation Satellite Systems, such as GPS. This is because it is so easy and cheap for nations, or criminals to disrupt, or spoof, GPS signals to ships.

Ship bridge systems use a GPS signal to locate the vessel on electronic charts, while navigators need the signal to understand their location in relation to other ships.

If the signal is disrupted, vessels are unable to continue their voyage or other maritime operations, unless they have an alternative method of positioning. Alternatives to GPS include Russia’s Glonass and Europe’s Galileo constellations, but they too are prone to disruption.

South Korea has faced these maritime security problems before as alleged interference from North Korea has led to hundreds of fishing vessels having to return to port because GPS signals were jammed.

Threats of further GPS disruptions has led to governments considering long-range radio navigation (Loran) technology, which was created during World War II.

As we have highlighted previously in Marine Electronics & Communications, an updated version, known as enhanced or eLoran, would provide a viable and more secure alternative to GPS for ship positioning.

It is a powerful radio signal from coastal transmitters that all shipping could use for positioning.

There have been trials in the UK and South Korea of eLoran and investment plans. But this would be too little, too late for South Korean maritime industries if North Korean threats lead to war.

Some of the eLoran initiatives in Russia and Europe have stalled, while the US administration is still considering investment. However, governments globally should recognise the maritime security risks of depending too heavily on GNSS services and invest in eLoran immediately.

Editor’s Note: While we don’t know the status of eLoran in Russia, we do know that their Loran-C/Chayka system is still going strong.  Here is a graphic of Loran-C coverage worldwide as of this year:

How to Steal A Ship – Maritime Executive

June 4, 2017

Editor’s Note: ‘The prudent mariner will use every means at their disposal to determine their position’ is an axiom that dates back to the age of sail. But what if you only have one means to determine your position?  The below was published yesterday on the website for Maritime Executive Magazine.  See our note after the below.

The Maritime Executive

How to Steal a Ship

By Dana Goward 2017-06-01 00:46:43

In 2013, Professor Todd Humphries of the University of Texas made news by demonstrating how he could “takeover” navigation of a large yacht by co-opting its navigation system with false GPS signals. Even though the captain and crew knew what was going to happen, the vessel was out of sight of land and the changes in course were too subtle for them to detect.

In the most recent edition of the Institute of Navigation’s Journal “Navigation” Professor Humphries and a colleague explain over the course of 16 pages how it was done. From the paper’s abstract:

“An attacker’s ability to control a maritime surface vessel by broadcasting counterfeit civil Global Positioning System (GPS) signals is analyzed and demonstrated. The aim of this work is to explore civil maritime transportation’s vulnerability to deceptive GPS signals and to develop a detection technique that is compatible with sensors commonly available on modern ships. It is shown that despite access to a variety of high-quality navigation and surveillance sensors, modern maritime navigation depends crucially on satellite navigation and that a deception attack can be disguised as the effects of slowly-changing ocean currents …”

But bad actors need not be able to penetrate the complex formulas of this technical paper in order to pose a significant hazard to shipping. At the annual Defcon hackers’ convention in 2015 a Chinese technologist gave step by step instructions on how to build a GPS spoofing device and was selling kits for $300.

Maritime executives and security professionals should take note.

Imagine a container ship bound from the Cape of Good Hope to Osaka via the Malacca Strait. A crew member or paying passenger has brought a GPS spoofing device aboard that is difficult to distinguish from a computer or other piece of personal electronics.

Once the ship is well clear of Africa and Madagascar, the spoofer diverts the ship’s course slightly more than five degrees to the right and encourages an speed increase of two knots. In less than four days, instead of arriving at the entrance to the Malacca Straits as expected, the vessel will make landfall 10 hours earlier and 220 nautical miles away, off shore a sparsely populated part of Indonesia.

Dana A. Goward is President of Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation.

Link to article in Maritime Executive

Editor’s End Note:  There are many things that can be done by mariners, companies and nations to greatly reduce the opportunities for scenarios like the one described above. Professor Humphries and his coauthor describe some in his journal paper. Supplementing GPS/GNSS signals with terrestrial signals is another way. For example, many vessels in Europe and the northern Atlantic could integrate the UK eLoran signal into their navigation plots. For properly equipped vessels, even one eLoran transmitter can provide valuable, difficult to disrupt navigation information.



Receiver only 6cm Integrates eLoran, Chayka, GNSS

March 15, 2017

The other day we posted about a new navigation receiver that integrated eLoran, Chayka, and GNSS signals.

What we didn’t realize until we saw one last night is that the receiver is only 6cm long!

So we have taken down the old post, and are putting up this new one that includes a photo of the device being held by Prof. Dr. Durk van Willigen of Reelektronika.

Here is the old post from Monday:

Blog Editor’s Note: We received the below email  announcing a new product offering by Reelektronika in the Netherlands. It also references our panel this week at the annual Munich Satellite Navigation Summit. The German sponsors for the summit chose the theme “GNSS – Time for Backup”? A good topic, but it seems to us, if you are asking the question, then you already know the answer. Looks like the folks at Reelektronika think they know also.

“Reelektronika proudly announces the development of a new series of integrated eLoran/Chayka/GNSS receivers based on the Loradd++ core which extends the range of currently produced receivers. The need to significantly reduce the size and power consumption of receivers was the main driver of this development. Low power and small size are e.g. prerequisites for developing wearable instruments.

This announcement comes in the week that the Munich Satellite Summit 2017 with the self-explaining title ‘GNSS – is it time for backup?’ organises a Panel Discussion lead by Mr. Dana Goward on also ‘GNSS – is it time for backup?’. To our opinion, modern society urgently needs a robust backup right now as the threats of GNSS denial are growing rather fast. We should prevent that these threats to position, navigation and time (PNT) become a danger to our daily life and economy. Years of study in the United States as well in Europa and Asia made clear that eLoran/Chayka is one of the most promising and most efficient GNSS backups available now. Reelektronika sees this as a sound reason to continue research and development of new eLoran/Chayka-based PNT systems.

Please see the attached information sheet of our newest integrated GNSS/eLoran/Chayka receivers while our website shows more low-frequency based instruments.

For more information please contact us at”

See Flier


Next GPS Adjacent Band Compatibility Workshop (#4) 30 March 2017

March 14, 2017

We got this note from Stephen M. Mackey at the Volpe Center and are passing it along:

“The next GPS Adjacent Band Compatibility Workshop, Workshop VI will be held on March 30, 2017 at RTCA Inc. 1150 18th St. NW., Suite 910, Washington, DC 20036.  A Federal Register Notice (FRN) will be published this week, but wanted to provide as much notice to participants as possible.  This workshop is open to the general public by registration only. For those who would like to attend the workshop either in person or via WebEx, we request that you register no later than March 27, 2017. Please use the following link to register:

Additional information will be provided prior to the workshop for those who have registered.”

New high-tech Turkish system reduces dependence on GPS

March 9, 2017

Blog Editor’s Note: Turkey’s neighbors, Russia & Iran, as well as many other players in the region, have long histories of jamming and spoofing satellite navigation systems. No surprise that Turkey would develop this and other methods of coping.

ANKARA © Anadolu Agency 2017

A Turkish firm has developed a national navigation system as an alternative or supplement to GPS to provide sensitive location information for aircraft and other vehicles, company officials said Thursday.

STM Defense Technologies said a version of its TerraFlite terrain-aided autonomous navigation system will be used by Turkish Armed Forces helicopters.

STM developed an algorithm to allow aircraft to find their location on their own without using GPS or Global Positioning System. The system’s cutting-edge technology can provide sensitive location information where GPS fails.

TerraFlite’s research and development project started in 2012 with the financial support of the Turkish Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK) and the help of Ankara University’s Electric-Electronic Engineering Department.

The company has an international patent on TerraFlite, and research for the invention has been published in scientific journals.

Like a flashlight during a blackout

Read More

Ligado Says NASCTN LTE-GPS Report Completes Record for FCC Action

February 21, 2017

This is a re-post from – Note that quite a way down in the post it reads “The report presents a huge amount of data, including numerous plots of test results, but it does not reach conclusions about whether LTE signals would cause harmful interference to GPS devices.”

Ligado Says NASCTN LTE-GPS Report Completes Record for FCC Action

February 17, 2017 – Ligado Networks LLC said that a 428-page report released this week by the National Advanced Spectrum and Communications Test Network (NASCTN) on the impacts of LTE signals on GPS receivers validates that the LTE network Ligado wants to deploy can operate without harming the performance of GPS devices. Company representatives said the report completes the record in the FCC’s Ligado proceeding, and they said the agency should move ahead to act on its authorization request.

“Ligado’s very pleased that NASCTN has issued its report on the compatibility of GPS devices with LTE deployed in adjacent bands. We’re looking forward to reviewing fully this comprehensive and extensive collection of data, but our initial review indicates that this data supports the conclusion reached by the major GPS companies over the last 14 months: And that conclusion is that a Ligado network built to the specifications proposed in the pending FCC application can operate alongside GPS devices without harming the performance of GPS,” Valerie Green, Ligado’s executive vice president and chief legal officer, told reporters during a conference call.

“The NASCTN report is really the last piece of information that the regulatory decision-makers like the FCC need to move forward with Ligado’s pending application. This government report is objective, and it is impartial,” she said.

“This report completes the technical evaluation of how Ligado proposes to use its spectrum for ground-based services, and is the last in a long line of testing by multiple stakeholders,” Doug Smith, the company’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “The regulatory decision-makers now have the information they need to make this 35 MHz of vital mid-band spectrum available to serve critical American infrastructure needs and deliver substantial economic benefits to our nation.”

The NASCTN testing was conducted under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement. NASCTN was established in 2015 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the Department of Defense to look for ways to increase access to spectrum for commercial and federal government entities (TRDaily, March 25, 2015).

“NASCTN testing included several measurands: carrier-to-noise density (C/N0), 3D position error, timing error, number of GPS satellites in view, time to first fix and time to first reacquisition,” a summary of the project noted. “The NASCTN test plan focused on GPS devices from four different receiver classes – general location and navigation (GLN), high-performance positioning (HPP), real-time kinematic (RTK), and GPS-disciplined oscillator (GPSDO).”

“Over a three-month period, NASCTN performed the radiated measurements associated with this project at two facilities – a semi-anechoic chamber at National Technical Systems (NTS) in Longmont, CO and at a fully-anechoic chamber at the NIST Broadband Interoperability Testbed (NBIT) facility in Boulder, CO,” the summary noted. “NASCTN relied on technical staff from NIST and the U.S. Army’s Electronic Proving Grounds to perform and validate the measurements and collect the data.”

“In total, NASCTN performed 1,476 hours of testing and collected over 19,000 data files for a variety of measurands that were collected from a number of GPS devices,” the summary said. “These data were collected at a baseline condition (no LTE signals present) and over a large range of LTE signal power levels.  Subsequent data processing yielded a set of 3,859 anonymized data files (780 MB) that is available along with the NASCTN report.”

The report presents a huge amount of data, including numerous plots of test results, but it does not reach conclusions about whether LTE signals would cause harmful interference to GPS devices.

Read More

Galileo Working, but Some Clocks Failing

January 20, 2017

Editor’s Note: Each satellite has four clocks aboard, so these failures have not been fatal for the system, nor even an individual satellite. They are worrying, though, as you will read below.


Galileo satellites experiencing multiple clock failures

The onboard atomic clocks that drive the satellite-navigation signals on Europe’s Galileo network have been failing at an alarming rate.

Across the 18 satellites now in orbit, nine clocks have stopped operating.

Three are traditional rubidium devices; six are the more precise hydrogen maser instruments that were designed to give Galileo superior performance to the American GPS network.

Galileo was declared up and running in December.

However, it is still short of the number of satellites considered to represent a fully functioning constellation, and a decision must now be made about whether to suspend the launch of further spacecraft while the issue is investigated.

Prof Jan Woerner, the director general of the European Space Agency (Esa), told a meeting with reporters: “Everybody is raising this question: should we postpone the next launch until we find the root cause, or should we launch?

“You can give both answers at the same time. You can say we wait until we find the solution but that means if more clocks fail we will reduce the capability of Galileo. But if we launch we will at least maintain if not increase the [capability], but we may then take the risk that a systematic problem is not considered. We are right now in this discussion about what to do.”

Still operational

Each Galileo satellite carries two rubidium and two hydrogen maser clocks. The multiple installation enables a satellite to keep working after an initial failure.

All 18 spacecraft currently in space continue to operate, but one of them is now down to just two clocks.

Read More

eLoran Infrastructure Waiting – Las Vegas Sun article

January 10, 2017

Editor’s note:  A good reminder that the federal government still has all the properties needed for a quick implementation of system to defend GPS.  And who would have thought that folks in Las Vegas, NV would be so aware of the issue? 

First wave: Is a comeback in store for Searchlight’s radio positioning station?

Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017 | 2 a.m.

At the end of an unmarked, barely passable road a few miles south of Searchlight sits a shuttered government installation. To some, it is a silent monument to a technology whose time came and went. To others, it’s symbolic of a colossally penny-wise but pound-foolish decision that put the nation’s security at risk.

The site is a former LORAN-C station — LORAN, for LOng RAnge Navigation. For more than 30 years, it broadcast a powerful, low-frequency radio beacon to help ships and planes fix their positions and find their way home.

In February of 2010, however, the Searchlight LORAN station fell silent, along with roughly two dozen similar stations throughout the country. The Obama administration figured the World War II-era technology was obsolete in an age of global-positioning satellites, and that the annual $40 million budget could be better spent.

“This system once made a lot of sense, before there were satellites to help us navigate,” Obama said in a May 2009 speech. “Now there’s GPS. And yet, year after year, this obsolete technology has continued to be funded even though it serves no governmental function and very few people are left who still actually use it.”

But the nation’s GPS system has proved vulnerable to hacking, jamming and interference from solar flares. LORAN, at least an upgraded version, is being presented as a safety net for GPS. And those behind the effort see the decision to shut down America’s LORAN sites as dangerous.

Click to enlarge photo

At the end of an unmarked, barely passable road a few miles south of Searchlight sits a shuttered government installation. The site is a former LORAN-C station — LORAN, for LOng RAnge Navigation. For more than 30 years, it broadcast a powerful, low-frequency radio beacon to help ships and planes fix their positions and find their way home.

“It was absolutely a mistake,” says Dana Goward, a retired Coast Guard captain. “It was a case of people at several levels of government not paying attention to the engineers and senior leaders, including four-star admirals; deliberately ignoring them to claim they had saved the government money when, in fact, they were endangering the nation.”

Entire Article

ATIS Time & Money Workshop – 25 Jan 17

January 4, 2017

Editor’s Note: This looks like an interesting event at the New York Stock Exchange.  We are going to attend. A similar event was hosted there last year that included a demonstration using an eLoran signal for a timing reference.  DG

Time and Money Workshop
Agenda Announced     

Join us for the Time and Money Workshop on January 25 at the New York Stock Exchange, where finance and trading software specialists and telecom experts–the professionals managing time for the entire network– will discuss leading issues in time transfer and what it takes to deliver accurate time for financial transactions.

Visit the Time and Money Workshop website for the full agenda.

Space is limited, Register today!

$Millions in US Supplied Drones for Ukraine Disappoint – too vulnerable to jamming/hacking

January 1, 2017

Editor’s Note: For years the US administration has turned a blind eye to  problems of jamming and spoofing of all kinds.  The example below of millions of dollars wasted in foreign aid trying to counter Russia in the Ukraine is a relatively benign example compared to the potential problems that could be caused within the US.


Exclusive: U.S.-supplied drones disappoint Ukraine at the front lines

By Phil Stewart | WASHINGTON

Millions of dollars’ worth of U.S.-supplied drones that Kiev had hoped would help in its war against Russian-backed separatists have proven ineffective against jamming and hacking, Ukrainian officials say.

The 72 Raven RQ-11B Analog mini-drones were so disappointing following their arrival this summer that Natan Chazin, an advisor to Ukraine’s military with deep knowledge of the country’s drone program, said if it were up to him, he would return them.

“From the beginning, it was the wrong decision to use these drones in our (conflict),” Chazin, an advisor to the chief of the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces, told Reuters.

The hand-launched Ravens were one of the recent highlights of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine, aiming to give Kiev’s military portable, light-weight, unarmed surveillance drones that were small enough to be used widely in the field. They are made by AeroVironment.

But they appear to have fallen short in a battle against the separatists, who benefit from far more sophisticated military technology than insurgencies the West has contended with in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria.

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