A report in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday, June 29, said that of more than 500 UK military flights over Eastern Europe, including Poland and the Baltic Sea, in the first four months of 2024 almost 150 suffered GPS interference while in 60 of those there were repeated attempts to jam the satellite navigation signals.

The UK’s Royal Air Force said it was not just combat aircraft that were affected but included Airbus A400 and C-17 cargo aircraft, the Voyager air-to-air refueling (AAR) tanker, its RC-135 surveillance aircraft which uses a Boeing 707 airframe as well as leased passenger, cargo and tanker aircraft.

At the end of April, GPSJAM.org, estimated that the number of reports of GPS interference rose from less than 50 a week in August 2023 to over 350 a week by the end of March. This included not only jamming of the GPS signal but also “spoofing” where an aircraft receives a signal indicating it is in the wrong place.

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More than 40,000 failures in the satellite navigation system were reported by commercial airlines operating over Eastern Europe during the last year.

In June the first report of GPS jamming over the Atlantic was reported by the Cybernews website which said that a flight from Madrid to Toronto on June 19 was unable to climb to its operational altitude because its GPS system incorrectly warned of the presence of other aircraft.

An article in the US based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) on June 30 said GPS receivers that have been jammed may operate in a “degraded mode” until they are reset, suggesting the aircraft reporting jamming on a commercial trans-Atlantic route may have picked up “the bug” having previously flown over the Baltic Region or Middle East.

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Forbes reported on June 20 that location-tracking devices in southern Cyprus were being jammed with their position being frequently shown as Beirut airport. Airline pilots and ship captains travelling near Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean have faced similar issues with their navigation devices with similar reports being posted in Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon.

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Russia, which is believed to have established two powerful electronic warfare centers in Syria and Kaliningrad, is blamed for engineering widespread GPS signal interference.

Military experts suggest that not all incidents, particularly those involving commercial airlines, are intentional and may be a side effect of military action. A GPSJAM.org spokesperson said, “Areas where a significant percentage of aircraft report poor navigation system accuracy typically coincide with areas where [military] jamming is known or suspected to be occurring.”

Jack Watling, a military expert at the Royal United Nations Institute for Defense Studies, said that the Russian military has “a long history of using GPS jamming as a hostile act directed across NATO borders.” He added that in locations where Russia has a large garrison, such as Kaliningrad and Syria, they will invariably have their jamming equipment switched on as a defensive measure.

When airliners lose a GPS signal, they resort to the use of other navigation systems such as inertial navigation or good old-fashioned map-based course plotting.

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An area where “spillover” is not the reason is the growing phenomena of the hacking of satellite television signals by Russia.

Reuters reported on June 25 that the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) had received a slew of complaints from Ukraine and several European countries including France, Luxembourg, Sweden, and the Netherlands about satellite interference. This not only concerned GPS jamming but the hacking of children's TV channels during which kids’ programs were forced aside by pro-Kremlin propaganda and violent images of the war in Ukraine.

A UK Ministry of Defense spokesperson said, “Our aircraft are fitted with a range of capabilities to ensure they can operate in a range of environments, including where GPS jamming could take place.”

Another UK Government source told the Guardian newspaper that widespread jamming by Russian or any other military forces that could potentially affect the safety of civilian and other non-combatant aircraft was “terribly irresponsible.”

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