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Is Russia jamming European commercial aircraft GPS?



Amidst an increasing standoff between Russia and the West, it has been made abundantly clear that both sides are engaging in new and unorthodox methods to gain the upper hand. Gaining the upper hand is no longer viewed as clear tactical success, instead, it's being viewed as party A’s ability to undermine and destabilize the economy, as well as the military capacity of party B to the greatest extent possible. It is plausible to argue that the West is no longer concretely confident in Ukraine's exhausted military to emerge victorious anytime soon. 


The best course of action for NATO is to exhaust Russian stockpiles as much as they can. This has come in the form of military aid packages which as of recent, and has been bolstered by the passing of the congress aid bill, which for months faced stiff Republican resistance.


Recently, Russia has been accused of hijacking GPS signals across several European airlines including British ones. This has resulted in widespread condemnation and has once again reiterated the unorthodox strategies that Russia may be willing to take in order to destabilise Europe.


However, it's important to acknowledge that until there is concrete evidence that unequivocally proves that Russia is behind the use of GPS jamming technology, the world shouldn't be so quick to assume, in spite of a few foreign ministers have accused Russia of perpetrating such actions. Because, like the explosion of the Nord Stream pipeline, the culprits are shadowed in mystery with both sides shifting responsibility onto the other. 


What can be said, however, is that Russia is known to rely on diplomatic gymnastics in conjunction with aggressive foreign policy that would allow it to plausibly deny involvement while having its objectives fulfilled. This was seen with the “green men” invasion of Crimea (2014) which we now know to have been the Wagner Group. Wagner,  Kremlin sponsored PMC, was also involved in the attack on a US military outpost “guarding” an oil depot in Syria in 2019. Russian foreign policy, even before the collapse of the Soviet Union and Russian Empire, pointed to a consistent strategy of staging false flag attacks rather than intervening to fulfill territorial ambitions.


Perhaps, the strategy of targeting air travel and airborne GPS systems, particularly in and around the UK which is, as everyone knows, is a key backer of Kyiv, is exemplary of the false flag tactics.


According to a recent report, more than 2,300 Ryanair flights and almost 1,400 Wizz Air flights have reported incidents of GPS interference since August of the previous year. British Airways has also faced potential jamming  attacks on their navigation systems with 82 falling victim so far.


Analysis conducted by the Sun, based on data from GPSJAM.org, revealed that approximately 46,000 aircraft have logged problems with GPS over the Baltic Sea during the same period. Many of these issues have been concentrated in Eastern Europe, particularly in regions bordering Russia. Such widespread interference disrupts flight schedules and poses a significant safety risk to air navigation.


Glenn Bradley, the head of flight operations at the CAA, reassured the public by stating, "Aviation is one of the safest forms of air travel, and there are several safety protocols in place to protect navigation systems on commercial aircraft." He clarified that while GPS jamming is a known issue, it does not necessarily imply deliberate targeting of commercial planes. Despite this, the growing frequency of such jamming attacks still demonstrates the need for continuous vigilance and protective measures to ensure the integrity of air navigation systems.


As the aviation industry grapples with the challenges posed by potential state sanctioned GPS interference, ensuring the safety and security of air travel becomes even more critical. Enhanced cooperation between governments, regulatory agencies, and industry stakeholders is essential to address the evolving and unorthodox threat.


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