Russia is going above and beyond to protect one of its most significant military bases in Syria. These efforts, however, are causing serious GPS issues in the surrounding Middle East, including in nearby Israel. GPS jamming and spoofing is designed for the sake of overpowering the legitimate GPS signals and replacing them using fake ones, thus imparting protection to Khmeimim Air Base. However, the effects are far-reaching and can be felt even on the island of Cyprus.
As per the Times of Israel, pilots who were flying throughout the Middle East first started encountering GPS issues back in the spring of 2018. The problem is comprised of GPS jamming and GPS spoofing. GPS jamming is when a third party is trying to block the satellite-based navigation system from making its way to the receiver. GPS spoofing, on the other hand, is when a third party emits a fake signal for making the GPS devices believe that they are somewhere else other than their actual position.
Early on, the problem was only limited to the high-flying aircraft – the signal appears to be ground-based – and the curvature of the Earth limited its effectiveness for higher-flying aircraft at longer ranges. However, during the recent weeks; the signal has been successful in affecting flights as far away as Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport when aircraft land and take off. This change suggests that the transmitter has undergone relocation to a higher elevation. GPS disruptions are also being reported at the Larnaca International Airport located at the island of Cyprus – about 140 miles away.
Todd Humphreys is a professor at the University of Texas and says that the source of the GPS disruptions in Khmeimim Air Base. Humphreys relied on different tools, including the sensors incorporated in the International Space Station and said that he is 90-05% sure that the Khmeimim Air Base is the source. He said, ‘The signal] is so strong that I can see it from space.’ Todd Humphreys is an aerospace engineer who specializes in satellite-based navigation.
The GPS spoofing and GPS jamming measures have been set into place after a mass drone attack that took targeted the Khmeimim Air Base and the port of Latakia. According to Russia, all of the drones were shot down. It further said that these drones relied on GPS for homing in on the facility.
What do you think of these measures?