More than 1,600 European planes hit by mystery GPS jamming with Russia feared responsible

26 March 2024, 17:26 | Updated: 26 March 2024, 17:29

Planes hit by GPS jamming in Europe
Planes hit by GPS jamming in Europe. Picture: alamy

By StephenRigley

More than 1,600 planes have been hit by GPS interference in less than two days and it is Russia is behind the interference.

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Planes flying over and around the Baltic Sea in northern Europe have been suffering technical problems caused by jamming since Sunday, with 1614 planes, mostly civilian, reporting problems since then.

Such interference poses serious issues for pilots, as it can force them to contend with fake signals that give false information about the plane’s position in the sky.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Picture: Alamy

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A map posted on X by an open-source intelligence account that tracks interference shows incidents widely spread across Poland and southern Sweden.

Most of the incidents appear to be taking place in Polish airspace, OSINT blogs have reported that planes flying in German, Danish, Swedish, Latvian and Lithuanian airspace have suffered interference problems.

Notably, little to no interference appears to be taking place in Belarus, a staunch Russian ally, or Kaliningrad, the Russian province separated from the mainland by sea and land.

A Lithuanian defence official told Newsweek: "Russian armed forces have a wide spectrum of military equipment dedicated for GNSS interference, including jamming and spoofing, at varying distances, duration and intensity.

"Those capabilities are used to create an ‘atmosphere of threat and a sense of helplessness in society", a Polish Defense Ministry official said.

A Lithuanian defence source told the outlet: "Russian armed forces have a wide spectrum of military equipment dedicated for GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) interference, including jamming and spoofing, at varying distances, duration and intensity."

A leading military expert said that Russia's dominance in the electronics war should be a 'wake-up call' for the UK's military. 

Dr Melanie Garson, associate professor of International Security at University College London, told "Russia particularly has previously had an edge on this and they have necessity.

"The mother of invention over the last two years during the war have actually actively solidified their capabilities in this regard.

"They've had the chance to use it more concretely and there's a real concern that, particularly Nato, currently doesn't match that capability."

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