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Russia testing new GPS electronic warfare system

Article by: Darren Griffin
Date: 12 Aug 2017

Following a report of ships suffering GPS issues whilst transiting the Black Sea it is believed that the culprit might be Russia, testing a new GPS Spoofing weapon.

Whilst GPS jammers are relatively simple technology available to anyone, GPS spoofing is technically far more difficult and many times more dangerous. A jammer prevents GPS from working at all and it would be obvious to an operator that the GPS was not working correctly whereas spoofing fools the GPS receiver into lying about its current position. It doesn't take much imagination to consider what carnage could result if someone had the ability to alter the reported position of a ship or plane.

On this occasion a ship reported that GPS was locating it 32km off course, at an inland airport. The captain contacted nearby vessels and the confirmed the same issue and same error. More than 20 ships were affected and an incident report was filed.

As yet there has been no confirmation but experts believe this is the first case of GPS spoofing detected in use. In January 2016 a US Navy patrol boat was captured in Iranian waters and it was suspected at the time that Iran may have spoofed GPS. New generation GPS satellites are equipped with more complex encryption in an effort to thwart spoofing attempts but concerns are now rising that this is a new weapon in the arsenal.

Source: US DoT - Marine Administration

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