The Royal Academy of Engineering's press release
Academy report warns of over-reliance on global satellite navigation systems
The report is available online: Global Navigation
Space Systems:reliance and vulnerabilities (.pdf)
Exactly as we predicted when Labour politicians grasped greedily at GPS technology for their national scale people or vehicle tracking fantasies, there are plenty of people jamming or spoofing GPS signals already:
Jamming can be split into 4 broad areas: Accidental, Criminal, Red Team Deliberate and Blue Team Deliberate (where Red Team is a generic term for 'enemy/criminal' and Blue Team for 'friendly forces').
Accidental Jamming is most likely to be caused by harmonics from other RF signals which sit on the weak GPS signal-from-space. This will typically be localised and potentially manageable once identified. This may be mitigated by moving the GPS antenna to screen out the problem and is less likely to be an issue for a GPS timing system.
Criminal Jamming is caused by people who are looking to defeat GPS tracking systems. They may be car thieves, road toll evaders, tracker evaders, drivers seeking to avoid commercial mileage limits or to avoid their bosses' knowledge of their movements, etc. This will typically be indiscriminate and both moving and stationary. It may be fairly low power just to defeat the localised vehicle location system but the car thief is unlikely to be concerned with managing power levels to minimise impact on additional nearby GPS reception. This is unlikely to be a problem for most GPS applications if the jamming event is of short duration and localised.
Red Team Jamming (e.g. Terrorist) is deliberate and may be targeted at some specific aspect of critical infrastructure, possibly but not necessarily timing systems. It will be indiscriminate, more likely to be high power and may occur at a number of locations simultaneously. This is more likely to be a problem and the impact will be dependent on the back-end filtering and antenna design.
Blue Team Jamming is deliberate - generally to defeat a perceived threat of covert tracking. It will probably be low power and have a similar impact to criminal jamming. However there would be an impact if they parked for long periods near critical infrastructure which used GPS timing - for example a TETRA** base station.
** Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) is a digital trunked mobile radio standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). The
purpose of the TETRA standard was to meet the needs of traditional Professional Mobile Radio (PMR) user organisations such as Public Safety, Transportation,
Utilities, Government, Military, and Oil & Gas companies. www.tetramou.com/
See Spy Blog from 2007
or even from 2003
|L1 1575.42 MHz||L1 1602.00 MHz||E1 1575.42 MHz|
|L2 1227.6 MHz||L2 1246.00 MHz||E5A 1176.45 MHz|
|L5 1176.45 MHz||E5 1191.795 MHz|
|E5B 1207.14 MHz|
|E6 1278.75 MHz|
Table 1: GNSS RF Carrier Frequencies
Commercially available (legal to purchase and own, but not to use, GPS jammer powered off a car cigarette lighter socket)
The results of the Trinity House GPS jamming trial involving multiple failures of several navigation and control systems on the bridge of a ship, are very worrying.
When Pole Star entered the jamming zone, numerous alarms sounded on the bridge over a period of approximately 10 minutes. These alarms were all linked to the failure of diferent functions to acquire and calculate their GPS position, which included: the vessel's DGPS receivers, the AIS transponder, the dynamic positioning system, the ship's gyro calibration system and the digital selective calling system. The crew of the Pole Star was able to recognise each alarm and silence them but they were expecting the alarms to sound. In the situation where a crew was not expecting this level of system failure then the distraction caused by so many alarms sounding at once could have had a significant effect. The effect could be made worse depending on the time of day (potentially a vessel's bridge can be single-manned at night, or with one officer and a look-out) or if the vessel is performing a manoeuvre or operation demanding high accuracy and a high degree of human concentration at the time of GPS failure, such as docking in poor visibility.
Some vessels have integrated bridge systems, which enable automatic execution of a passage plan on autopilot. If this system is operating at a time that jamming occurs, then the vessel's course and heading may change without informing the crew, potentially leading to extremely hazardous consequences.
Will the Government act swiftly on the recommendations of this Report ?
We suspect that various Whitehall Departments will simply pass the buck to each other e.g. Home Office ("national security" ) to Transport, to Department of Culture, Media, Olympics and Sport (who regulate illegal radio frequencies) etc.,especially as this topic involves high technology which touches on aspects of every Government department's work. Therefore any policies or projects will not be championed and paid for out of their own budgets by any of them, if they can help it.