Experts Warn of Escalating Crisis: 'Planes May Face Navigation Hurdles'

Written by Kathrine Frich

Jun.13 - 2024 5:39 PM CET

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock
Russia has been identified as the likely perpetrator of these attacks.

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Over the past month, GPS signal disruptions have significantly impacted both maritime and aviation traffic in and around the Baltic Sea.

As these disruptions are expected to become more frequent according to Marcus Oscarsson, concerns are rising about the broader implications for navigation and safety. Søren Reime Larsen, a PhD student at Denmark's largest space research institute, DTU Space, explained the phenomenon.

Increasing GPS Signal Disruptions in the Baltic Region

Reime Larsen, who researches GPS disruptions, likened the issue to static on a radio frequency, where interference occurs on the very specific frequency bands used by GPS satellites.

"This essentially drowns out the GPS signal so that the receiver cannot 'hear' it," the expert told the TV channel. "Practically speaking, this means that the radio signals used by ships and planes for navigation are disrupted."

Søren Reime Larsen emphasized that while there is no need for panic, the impact of GPS disruptions on daily life could be significant. "We must take this phenomenon seriously, but the GPS signals won't be shut off entirely. Planes won't fall from the sky," he assured

Unprecedented Disruptions Hit Sweden

According to the researcher, southern Sweden and the Danish island of Bornholm experienced severe GPS disruptions on two occasions in May. These incidents occurred during the nights of May 13-14 and May 17-18, lasting 11 and 6 hours respectively.

"These disruptions are unprecedented in scale," Reime Larsen told TV2. He speculated that ships in the Baltic Sea might have been responsible for these disruptions affecting Denmark and Sweden.

In recent months, tens of thousands of incidents have been reported where aircraft experienced navigation data issues while flying over the Baltic Sea.

Russia Implicated in the Attacks

Russia has been identified as the likely perpetrator of these attacks, with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, situated between Poland and Lithuania, pointed out as the epicenter of the GPS disruptions.

"In Kaliningrad, Russia has access to the necessary systems and they are using them," a spokesperson for the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense told Newsweek in early March. "Russian forces have access to a wide range of military equipment designed for GNSS interference, including systems that can be used for remote jamming," the spokesperson added.