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Interfering with GPS Signal in Aviation or Military Missions

perfectjammer png2022/09/07

With car thieves in the United Kingdom using GPS jammers to aid their getaways, experts say it‘s only a matter of time until crooks -- and, ominously, terrorists -- in the United States catch on.

Jammers transmit a low-power signal that creates signal noise and fools a GPS receiver into thinking the satellites are not available. They can be used to confuse the police, avoid charges, and by some pranksters to harass unsuspecting iPhone users.

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But the real threat is the unknown. Criminals could use them to hide their whereabouts from law enforcement -- and some experts fear terrorists could use high-powered jammers to disrupt GPS reception on an airplane or in military operations.

These devices pose a serious social risk and their purchase and use in the United States are undoubtedly illegal. The FCC is keen to track down anyone who buys GPS jammers and will prosecute and imprison anyone who uses them. However, they are easy to buy online, and their supporters say they should keep it that way. Fox News Channel can buy GPS jammers from numerous online sources for $50.

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“GPS is so embedded in the transportation, manufacturing industries, and economies of our societies that the risk is high,“ said David Last, an Emeritus Professor at Bangor University in the U.K. The authority to use GPS jammers with a famous crime.

It‘s especially so in telecommunications: GPS is the ultimate source of timing for most of our telephone systems, the Internet, and, in the U.Nan, mobile phones.

All these systems are potential prey of jammers, which is the main reason why they are illegal. But supporters of the devices say they can serve a purpose and that people should have the right to buy them. And, for now, they can.

Disrupting GPS reception in aircraft or military operations

GPS and cell phone jammers are not the most advanced

These devices that cause signal confusion and interruption are actually similar to illegal cell phone jammers.

  • The risk is low for airplanes, which use ground-based radars for guidance and have a backup navigation system that does not depend on satellites.
  • Military personnel uses a dedicated GPS network. But GPS interference will still cause confusion in the cockpit because the pilot has to switch to the alternate navigation system.
  • Maritime cargo that relies on GPS coordinates to locate ports can also face problems.
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The Office of Engineering and Technology states that GPS jammers are sold, imported, owned or used in the United States. The agency is actively pursuing those using the devices. There may be potential risks if GPS jammers are used carelessly.

It depends on the ability of the jamming device, High-power devices will have greater range and greater jamming potential than low-power devices.

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GPS jammers, once primarily associated with car thefts in the UK, have now become a growing concern in the United States. These devices emit low-power signals that disrupt GPS reception, creating signal noise that deceives GPS receivers into believing that satellite signals are unavailable. While they have been utilized by some pranksters and criminals for various purposes, the potential threat they pose goes beyond petty crime.

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One of the major concerns is their potential use by criminals and even terrorists to evade law enforcement or disrupt critical infrastructure. By obscuring their whereabouts, criminals could thwart police efforts to track them down, while terrorists might exploit high-powered jammers to interfere with GPS reception on airplanes or in military operations. Given the widespread reliance on GPS in transportation, manufacturing, telecommunications, and other sectors, the consequences of such disruptions could be severe.

Despite being illegal in the United States, GPS jammers are readily available for purchase online, posing a significant enforcement challenge. While the FCC is committed to prosecuting individuals who use these devices, their accessibility online remains a concern. Critics argue that the ubiquity of GPS jammers presents a substantial risk to society, given the pivotal role GPS plays in various industries.

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However, proponents of GPS jammers contend that they have legitimate uses and advocate for individuals' right to purchase them. Some argue that GPS jammers can serve as effective tools for privacy protection or signal testing, although their potential for misuse outweighs these purported benefits.

In terms of risk assessment, the impact of GPS jammers varies depending on their power and range. High-power devices pose a greater risk, with the potential to cause widespread disruption to GPS-dependent systems, including aviation and maritime navigation.

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