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Russia Accused of Causing GPS Interference, Disrupting Flights in Europe

Russia accused of jamming GPS navigation (Credits: France 24)

Experts have noted an increase in disruption to satellite navigation systems in regions where Russia’s military activities are most pronounced, such as the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, and the eastern Mediterranean. This interference has affected thousands of civilian flights, leaving aircraft unable to receive GPS signals.

In one instance, a RAF plane carrying Defence Secretary Grant Shapps experienced GPS signal jamming while flying near Russian territory in March. Finland’s Finnair suspended daily flights to Tartu, Estonia, for a month due to GPS interference, as Tartu Airport relies solely on GPS for navigation.

Russia accused of meddling in the GPS systems of Baltic Sea (Credits:

Finnair’s vice-president for flight operations, Juho Sinkkonen, stated that their aircraft encounter GPS interference daily. Despite being a nuisance, the interference poses few immediate risks to flight safety, as aircraft can typically rely on alternative navigation systems while in flight.

According to Cyrille Rosay of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), incidents of GPS interference have been increasing, with the EASA recording several thousand incidents annually.

Officials from Baltic states attribute the interference to Russia, with Estonia’s Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna stating that interference sources have been identified near Russian cities like St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, and Pskov.

Online investigators also believe that GPS jammers are located between St. Petersburg and Estonia and near the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. Tsahkna accuses Russia of violating international agreements and endangering civilian aircraft and people by jamming GPS signals.

Jamming is the most common form of interference, but instances of “spoofing,” where legitimate signals are replaced with fake ones, have also been reported.

Estonia blames Russia for GPS interference (Credits: Heise)

Keir Giles of the Conflict Studies Research Centre suggests that Russia is interfering with GPS for both offensive and defensive purposes, testing capabilities while protecting against possible missile and drone attacks.

While Russia has its own satellite navigation system, GLONASS, GPS interference poses risks to global navigation systems, with Dana Goward of the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation emphasizing the societal reliance on precise GPS signals.

He warns that interference could decrease aviation efficiency and safety, urging for measures to prevent potential harm.

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