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Russian GPS jammers have some military applications, but are also attractive to non-military customers


NATO countries have long known about Russia's electronic warfare activities, especially the growing number of Russian jamming and deception systems. Some of them are already on display in Syria and Ukraine, and Russia considers complaints of interference or spoofing of the devices to be free publicity for the devices. Russian GPS jammers have some military applications, but are also attractive to non-military customers. Russia, for example, began shipping a new portable GPS jamming system called Pole 21 in 2016. The system is special because a single Pole 21 unit can be installed on an existing cellular tower (or individually on a portable tower). . Each Pole 21 unit can transmit 20 watts of power and interference signals from GPS(and similar GLONASS, Galileo, and Beidou systems) up to 80 km. The Pole 21 can also be used as a backup GSM transmitter to receive commands from nearby Pole 21 devices. In this way, the Russians claim, a wide area can be quickly protected from GPS-guided missiles and bombs, and the vehicle GPS system can be turned off. The Russians acknowledged that Pole 21 would also cripple all commercial GPS devices in blockaded areas. The biggest problem with the Pole 21 is that Russia has developed and sold a number of different GPS jamming systems since the mid-1990s, but they have proved less effective in combat.

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Russian interest in GPS jamming became public knowledge in the early 1990s, when a private Russian company called AviaConversia was formed with the aim of developing cheap, lightweight and reliable GPS jammers. In 1997, the company offered four different models of GPS jammers (about $4,000 each) to commercial and military customers. The device produces only 4-8 watts, making them difficult to detect and bomb. These signal jammers have been advertised as being able to effectively block GPS signals for 150-200 kilometers, depending on the terrain. These jammers can be battery-operated and weigh between 8 kg (18 lb) and 12 kg (26 lb) without batteries. During operation, the jammer consumes less than 25 watts of power.

In the mid-1990s, plans to build their own GPS jammers using off-the-shelf parts that cost less than a hundred dollars popped up on the Internet. Requires welding skills. Soon, similar assembly units will be available on the Internet for as little as $40. At the same time, GPS experts in the United States pointed out that the power of these jammers is not enough to connect the GPS of most military GPS receivers, but it is likely to interfere with many commercial products, especially consumer products. The Air Force later revealed that this was the case. This was demonstrated in 2003, when Iraq tried to

By 2002, AviaConversia was gone, apparently absorbed by new classified Russian military jamming efforts. By the 1990s, AviaConversia had established most of its relations with the Russian armed forces and implicitly guaranteed that its jammers were effective. After 2001, experiments by the U.S. Department of Defense showed that cheap jammers were not as effective, and larger jammers, made of off-the-shelf components that cost nearly $10,000, were also largely ineffective against the system's military-grade GPS guidance. At the same time, the Defense Department built and tested GPS jamming detectors, as well as homing systems sensitive enough to guide missiles to active jammers.