Russian air GPS jammer device
According to American defense officials, the Russian military is deploying a weaponized form of GPS jamming that is effectively blocking some U.S. drone aircraft operations over Syria – and is even affecting drones equipped with anti-jamming technology. As more and more operators contemplate the deployment of autonomous vessels and aircraft in the maritime space, the vulnerability of high-specification military hardware to GPS jamming may pose a cautionary tale.
The Russian military has been jamming some U.S. military drones operating in the skies over Syria, seriously affecting American military operations, according to four U.S. officials. So far, the attacks have only affected small surveillance drones, four officials told NBC News, not the U.S. Air Force’s armed Predator and Reaper models. They declined to discuss whether any of the small aircraft had gone down as a result of jamming. High-end drones like the Global Hawk, Predator and Reaper are equipped with inertial navigation systems, which do not depend upon external signals for positioning, in addition to their GPS receivers.
The Rychag-AV is considered one of the world’s most powerful wifi signal jammer when it comes to disrupting the electronics of combat aircraft and cruise missiles. The NGJ-LB system will be integrated on the EA-18G aircraft and will replace the ALQ-99 low band pods. The ALQ-99 is a tactical jamming system that has been deployed on the EA-6B Prowler and now the EA-18G Growler. The NGJ-LB system will provide significantly greater electronic attack capabilities in the lower frequency bands of the electromagnetic spectrum against modern threats.
Electronic signal jammer attacks from Russia
NBC News, citing four sources inside the Pentagon, reports that the jamming began weeks ago. It started shortly after suspected chemical attacks by the Syrian regime in the rebel-held Ghouta region. Russian forces were reportedly concerned that the U.S. military would retaliate for the use of chemical weapons and jammed drones to prevent U.S. forces gathering information.
According to the report, the jamming equipment was developed by the Russian military and is sophisticated enough to affect even navigation equipment with anti-jam technology and good enough to affect encrypted communications, though encryption only makes it hard to get into the drone’s control systems or sensor output. The Department of Defense declined to comment on whether any drones had crashed as a result of the jamming.
A Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman said the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) recently approved a two-year trial of phone-cell phone signal jammer equipment at the Goulburn jail. “Mobile phones are becoming smaller and harder to detect all the time,” the spokeswoman said. “We put a lot of effort into preventing the use of these phones by inmates, but for maximum effectiveness, jamming needs to be part of our approach.”
The jamming device for Perfectjammer uses dozens of antennas installed inside the centre to emit a signal at very low power, preventing any mobile phones inside the jail from connecting to a networked mobile phone tower.