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Military GPS jammer tests could disrupt satellite navigation over much of the west coast

Dojammer 2021-11-25

The US military is testing a large area GPS jammer that could disable Global Positioning System satellite navigation signals in California from beyond the Oregon border to Mexico during periods of test.

These tests take place six Tuesdays and Thursdays this month - from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on June 7, 9, 21, 23, 28 and 30 - has the potential to disrupt satellite navigation aboard commercial passenger jets departing and arriving at the busy ports of entry of the west coast, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco international airports.

During these hours, commercial and general aviation aircraft may need to revert to older aeronautical navigation systems involving VHF and medium frequency radio beacons that send signals to cockpit avionics called VHF Omnirange (VOR) and direction finding indicators. automatic (ADF).

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Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials in Washington sent out a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) warning of potential GPS disruptions on planes six days this month.

The military tests, conducted at the China Lake Naval Air Warfare Center in the desert town of Ridgecrest, Calif., "May result in an unreliable or unavailable GPS signal," the FAA notice warns.

GPS signals from planes flying at 25,000 feet could be disturbed or knocked out during testing in an area that includes major airports in Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

It is not only air navigation that could be affected. Land vehicles, boats and surface ships may have diminished GPS capability within a 235 nautical mile radius of China Lake, which includes the ports of Los Angeles, Oakland and San Diego.

Details on military GPS jamming tests are scarce, but it begs the question: what's worth knocking out GPS navigation in more than half of the major metropolitan areas on the West Coast?

The jamming potential of electronic warfare that can disable satellite navigation over large areas is a very real threat. the potential effects of GPS jamming are not widely known, but the threat is growing as we rely on GPS.

Twenty years ago, no one thought much about GPS. Today, it's standard with any smartphone. I know a lot of drivers who couldn't do without it. Learning to use the venerable Rand McNally Road Atlas is a low priority today.

Additionally, trucking and transportation companies are using GPS to track their fleets, and the global air traffic control system is shifting exclusively to GPS for fast and efficient air travel. Where would we be without it?

For many vehicle operators, airline pilots and ship captains on the west coast, they're finding out this month. Hopefully the test data we get from these tests is worth it in the short term.