Finger pointing. Russia denies it is responsible for disrupting GPS signals at major Israeli airport
Russia has denied an Israeli accusation that it is behind rthe disruption of GPS signals at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport.
The Ben Gurion Airport is the main international airport of Israel and the busiest airport in the country, but since early June GPS signals for pilots and aeroplanes at the airport have been unreliable.
In April it was reported that Russia regularly disrupts Global Positioning System (GPS) signals – certainly as part of its security practices for when Russian President Vladimir Putin comes to town.
Israel’s Airports Authority has according to the BBC said that the missing navigational data has had a “significant impact” on the airport operations.
The disrupted GPS signals had not apparently caused any accidents or safety incidents, and pilots instead are using the alternative Instrument Landing System.
“It is a safe and professional method that is used every day in airports around the world,” the authority reportedly said.
The BBC reported the authority as saying that the GPS problem only affects aircraft in the sky over the airport, not ground-based sensors.
An investigation of the GPS disruptions is continuing, but BBC Monitoring reported that Israeli IDF radio had quoted “high-ranking” sources as blaming Russia for the continuing disruption.
The disruption is reportedly linked to “electronic warfare” systems Russia used to protect its planes at the Hmeimim airbase in Syria, it said. That military base is about 217 miles north of Ben Gurion.
But Russia has reportedly denied Israeli suggestions that it is behind the disruption of GPS signals.
Russia’s ambassador to Israel was quoted by the BBC as saying that the accusation was “fake news” and could not be “taken seriously”.
Russia is known to have a long history of involvement in GPS spoofing and jamming, according to a report from non-profit research group the Centre for Advanced Defence (C4ADS).
The report singled out the Russian Federation for extensive GPS spoofing incidents.
The report said that it had identified 9,883 suspected instances (carried out by Russia) across 10 locations that affected 1,311 civilian vessel navigation systems since February 2016.”
According to C4ADS, most incidents affected ships, but spoofing was also seen around airports and other locations.
But it is not just the Russians that can spoof GPS signals.
In 2011 a major naval exercise carried out by the British off the coast of Scotland was ordered to stop using GPS jamming technology after complaints it was endangering the lives of fishermen and was disrupting mobile phones.
And sometimes GPS can just malfunction due to technical errors.
Back in 2015, the US Air Force (which still overseas GPS systems) said that it had uncovered a technical error that affected some GPS satellites – an error that had been unnoticed since 2013.
The problem apparently didn’t affect the GPS system’s accuracy, appeared to have been caused by the ground-based software used to index messages transmitted by Boeing-built GPS IIF satellites.
It is worth remembering that Russia has its own GPS alternative called the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), which had incomplete coverage of the globe until the mid-2000s.
China has its BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, while Japan has the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System, and India has the Regional Navigation Satellite System (NAVIC).
The European Union meanwhile has its Galileo positioning system.