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Thousands of European flights reportedly affected by suspected Russian jamming

by Chris York and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 23, 2024 12:46 PM 2 min read
A passenger plane approaching Frankfurt Airport, Germany, on April 1, 2024. (Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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Thousands of flights to and from Europe have been reportedly affected by suspected Russian jamming of GPS systems.

According to a report by The Sun based on data from the website GPSJAM.org, some 46,000 aircraft have reported problems over the Baltic Sea since last August, with most of them occurring in Eastern Europe near borders with Russia.

Russia has been accused of jamming GPS signals in nearby countries such as Finland as far back as the 2010s, and several recent high-profile incidents of jamming have highlighted the issue.

Most notably, Russia is believed to have jammed the satellite signal of a Royal Air Force aircraft used to transport U.K. Defence Minister Grant Shapps.

The aircraft, which was traveling back to Britain from Poland on March 13, was jammed for about 30 minutes as it flew by Russia's Kaliningrad region.

GPS signal and internet on board the aircraft were inaccessible for the duration of the aircraft's flight near Kaliningrad where the jamming signals are thought to originate.

A spokesperson for U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed the incident at the time, noting it was "not unusual."

Aircraft rely on GPS for navigation but the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) played down the risk to passenger safety.

"Aviation is one of the safest forms of air travel, and there are several safety protocols in place to protect navigation systems on commercial aircraft," Glenn Bradley, the head of flight operations at the CAA, told the Guardian.

"GPS jamming does not directly impact the navigation of an aircraft, and while it is a known issue, this does not mean an aircraft has been jammed deliberately."

Reuters: Russia believed to have jammed signal on plane carrying UK defense minister
Russia is believed to have jammed the satellite signal of a Royal Air Force aircraft used to transport U.K. Defence Minister Grant Shapps, a government source and journalists travelling with Shapps told Reuters on March 14.
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