The role of battlefield jammers
China and Russia are both selling GPS signal jammer. Some of the latest Russian GPS jammers have recently been used in eastern Ukraine. In 2007, China brought to market a powerful truck mounted GPS jamming system. These “GPS jamming vans” are meant to create a protective “bubble” over an area the van is in the middle of. Sales have been slow. A year before the 2003 invasion of Iraq it was believed that Saddam had bought many GPS jammers, to deal with U.S. JDAM GPS smart bombs. The JDAM has a backup INS, which was no secret, and the Iraqi GPS jamming efforts had no significant effect on the 2003 campaign.
While American troops have not yet encountered much (if any) battlefield GPS jamming, the threat exists. The most tangible evidence of this comes from North Korea, which has long made, sold, and itself used GPS jammers. In 2012 North Korea attacked South Korea with a massive GPS jamming campaign. The jamming began in early 2012 and continued for over two weeks. It took less than a day to confirm that the signal was coming from North Korea and was mainly aimed at the South Korean capital (Seoul). The jamming had little impact inside the city itself (the ground based jamming signal was blocked by buildings and hills) and was only noted by several hundred aircraft landing or taking off from local airports and over a hundred ships operating off the coast. In all these cases the ships and aircraft had backup navigation systems, which were switched on when GPS became unreliable. This is how navigation systems, especially those that rely on an external (satellite) signal are designed. This was the third time North Korea has used GPS jamming against South Korea. For most of March, 2011, North Korea directed a GPS jamming signal across the border towards Seoul. A separate jammer has been directed at cell phone traffic. The GPS jamming signal could be detected up to a hundred kilometers south of the DMZ.
The Russian president has sent fighter jets, drones and bombers to Syria, but it’s the spy weapons that could be the most powerful and dangerous. While surveillance equipment and “cell phone signal jammer” are ostensibly there to block communications by Islamic State fighters, it appears Russia is also targeting Western-armed rebels in an almighty display of power.
In recent weeks, Russia has sent in its IL-20 surveillance aircraft, known as “Coot” by NATO, armed with radar, eavesdropping equipment and optical and infrared sensors. It has also deployed advanced electronic jamming system Krasukha-4, used to block enemy radar and aircraft.
Electronic warfare is one of Russia’s greatest strengths, where it out-muscles even the West. The deployment of jammers could directly affect NATO technology, blinding pilots and giving Russia a huge military advantage over the West.
The deployment of the Krasukha-4 jamming system came after three days of aerial confrontations between Turkish jets and Russian-made warplanes used by Russia and the Syrian regime, The Times reported.