April 13, 2024
  • An X account that regularly tracks GPS interference reported that more than 1,600 planes have had trouble with signal jamming over the last two days
  • A Russian group from the Kaliningrad region has been blamed for the attack
  • Similar attacks have also been reported from the Middle East

1600+ Planes Hit By GPS Signal Jamming Across Eastern Europe

A recent report revealed that more than 1,600 planes (including many civilian planes) have been hit with signal interfaces over the last two days in Eastern Europe – near the Baltic Sea airspace to be precise.

An unnamed pilot addressed the issue and said that every time he flies from Turkey to Iraq (across the Russian and Iranian borders), he faces this problem.

The report is based on an open-source analysis by an account on X that routinely tracks GPS interference. The user first posted a map early on Saturday marking the jammings across Poland and southern Sweden. A while later, the map was updated to show that the jammings were limited to northern Poland.

Interfering with the signals of an aircraft can be fatal since both Global Positioning System (GPS) and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) help them find their location.

Any tampering with these systems can really confuse the pilot and send them in the wrong direction. In a worst-case scenario, they might even collide with another aircraft.

He also added that messing with these signals not only hampers navigation but can also temporarily affect their visual situational awareness. Although pilots get alerts if something is wrong with the plane and have other tools in place to reduce the risk of signal meddling, it’s still a matter of concern.

Read more: Senior Microsoft leaders’ email accounts breached by Russian hacking group

Who Is Responsible for These Signal Jammings?

Lithuanian defense forces believe that these attacks had been planned by a group of Russian jammers from the Kaliningrad area.

Kaliningrad is a region between Poland and Lithuania (both NATO members). It’s a crucial area for Russia. According to reports, this is where it keeps most of iys military equipment including a major naval fleet. This region also reportedly has extensive warfare capacity.

Russian armed forces have a wide spectrum of military equipment dedicated for GNSS interference, including jamming and spoofing, at varying distances, duration, and intensity.Anonymous officer

Representatives from other defense agencies have also shared their opinions on this issue:

  • In January, General Martin Herem from Estonia’s Defense Forces said that Russia’s electronic warfare tactics are quite strong.
  • Swedish Lieutenant Colonel Joakim Paasikivi shared similar sentiments in a separate statement and said this is all a part of Russia’s “hybrid warfare techniques.”

The biggest question here is if Russia really did it, then what could be the reason behind it? There doesn’t seem to be any immediate threat from Eastern Europe. Well, the Polish Defense Ministry feels Russia is simply trying to create instability and instill fear among the people.

This isn’t a new issue. Many pilots have been struggling with GPS signals every time they fly over the Baltic Sea airspace for more than a year now.

Some unnamed pilots revealed this year that they have started switching off their GPS every time they fly over the affected region. Other navigation tools like Inertial Navigation are safer to use there.

Similar problems have also been reported in the Middle East. The OPS Group, which is a collective association of pilots and dispatchers, said that many aircraft have been hit with fake signals. It’s nothing like traditional GPS jamming, rather it’s an advanced type of GPS spoofing that they have never seen before.

Read more: Pro-Russia hacktivists attack European air traffic control’s website


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