Among other things, Russia’s electronic warfare, including disruption, poses a major threat to civil aviation, police and peacetime medical operations.
Experts differentiate between jamming and spoofing. While interfering with the generation of electronic noise amounts to interfering with GPS services, spoofing, on the other hand, involves deceiving and manipulating a satellite navigation system to provide incorrect data.
In late June 2019, The Times of Israel reported that pilots flying in the Middle East, particularly Syria, have found since last spring that their GPS systems are in the wrong location or are no longer working at all.
According to data collected by American researchers, the signal that disrupted satellite navigation for planes flying through Israeli airspace (and allegedly continues to do so until now) came from the Russian airbase in Khmeimim in Syria.
The Khmeimim Air Force Base houses sophisticated Russian military hardware, including S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries, Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft systems, and Su-57 stealth fighter aircraft
Russia is most likely trying to protect its forces in Syria, including from drone attacks, by disrupting and conducting active electronic warfare. According to The National Interest, Israeli sources are “increasingly convinced” that GPS failure of civilian flights in the region is “a side effect of Russian radio interference in Syria.”
In recent years, ships have also reported GPS malfunctions in the eastern Mediterranean, with Russia suspected of having implemented electronic traffic jams to protect its troops in Syria fighting for the Bashar al-Assad regime.
However, the disruption may well be the result of spoofing. Ships posting about GPS problems in the U.S. Coast Guard’s navigation center reported what appeared to be authentic satellite signals but failed to receive credible positional information, reflecting the spoofing events in Syria near the Russian air base.
Moscow is believed to be attempting to disrupt western aircraft, including the latest stealth F-22 and F-35 fighters, as well as armed drones that are regularly attempting to attack Russia’s Khmeimim base in Latakia, Syria .
From April 2019 the US Air Force deployed the F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, respectively. This was part of a wider buildup against the backdrop of the US-Iranian confrontation in the region.
Russia can also be seen in the GPS war on the European continent. “A GPS signal jammer was first detected in late October 2018 during a large-scale NATO trident junction exercise in Norway,” Defense News said.
The Norwegian military secret service then stated that they had registered a source of interference from a Russian military base on the heavily fortified Kola Peninsula. The Finnish Military Intelligence Service also expressed that the analysis of the Norwegian partners reflected its own investigations and assessments.
The Norwegian government has condemned what it calls the Russian government’s continued “electronic harassment” of critical communications systems and networks. “The Norwegian government detests Russia’s electronic jamming and is intensifying cooperation with Nordic partners to improve the exchange of information on the Russian military’s signal blocking technologies and measures,” said Norwegian Defense Minister Bakke-Jensen.
The Norwegian Armed Forces are also investigating the use of new methods and technologies to protect against military communications disruptions and the interference of GPS systems by Russia. The US Air Force is currently planning to test interference-resistant GPS systems in Europe. This will be done with the aim of countering Russian electronic warfare.