Danger: Fake GPS Location Signals

August 22, 2017 North America , OPINION/NEWS , Russia



Ricardo Swire


Caribbean mariners and aircraft pilots are advised to constantly verify their Global Positioning System (GPS) locators, with a secondary nondescript device, to ensure registered geographical positions are accurate. This Caribbean internal security intelligence analysts’ appeal joins the worldwide alert. Evidence shows Russia has recently experimented with technological ability to override GPS signals.

Despite America’s subtle introduction of the “Next Generation Operational Control System” (OCX), Russia has penetrated and accessed GPS technology. The OCX commands modernize Legacy GPS satellites, oversees both civil and military navigation signals and provides modified cyber-security and resilience for GPS operations. Russia’s novel electronic warfare tactic involves mirroring real GPS signals with bogus electronic waves that disrupt and confuse the device’s geolocation ability and exactness.

The GPS is an American owned utility that provides users with Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) services. It consists of three segments labeled the space, control and user subdivisions. America’s Air Force is given responsibility for development, maintenance and operation of the space and control segments. Caribbean internal security analysts highlight the Black Sea as Russia’s testing region.

On June 22, 2017 a ship Captain, navigating near the port of Novorossiysk in Russia, officially reported a GPS miscalculation to the U.S. Maritime Administration. The veteran navigator noticed his ship’s GPS identified Gelendzhik Airport, more than thirty-two kilometers inland. After verifying with the ship’s engineering officer that the GPS was not malfunctioning, the Captain contacted other nearby ships. At lease twenty vessels were also placed at Gelendzhik Airport.

Caribbean internal security analysts consider this Russian Black Sea electronic warfare provocation as another test of America’s enhanced electronic defense capabilities, similar to the impactful hack attack earlier in 2017. America’s GPS satellite constellation usually delivers consistently accurate information. Expansion of Russia’s GPS spoofing embarrasses America and discredit the operational capability of the U.S. Air Force’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS) and Air Force Reserve 18th Space Operations Squadron (19SOPS), collectively known as “Team Blackjack.”

From a high-tech fortification at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado specialists keep the GPS satellites airborne and provide high accuracy data to billions of civilian and military users. Eleven antennas and a global network of sixteen ground facilities monitor the GPS satellites, transmissions, performance analysis and relay commands to the orbiting group. With more than two hundred and fifty thousand cell towers in Russia, equipped with GPS jamming devices as a defense against attack by America’s missiles, the country definitely has advanced capabilities to disrupt GPS.

Caribbean internal security intelligence analysts refer to Russia’s boast of the capabilities to “make aircraft carriers useless.” The US Director of National Intelligence recently issued a report that stated Russia and others are focused on improving their capability to interrupt U.S. satellite systems. American monitor stations track the GPS satellites as they pass overhead and channel observations back to Team Blackjack.

Monitor stations also collect atmospheric data, range/carrier measurements and navigation signals. The sites utilize sophisticated GPS receivers operated by the Master Control Station (MCS). There are sixteen monitoring stations located worldwide. The network includes six from the Air Force and ten from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Caribbean internal security intelligence analysis recommend that individual island government’s practice extreme caution.

So far the Russian phenomenon has mainly affected ships traversing the Black Sea. However, in the future if not counteracted GPS spoofing could impact a wide spectrum of international combat systems that include drones, missiles, smart-bombs, surface combatants and land warfare units. Even manned aircraft, such as commercial airlines, may not be immune to Russia’s latest electronic warfare tactics.





Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.

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