Russian signal jammers again accused of interfering with flights entering Israel

Planes flying into Israel from the west are again experiencing problems due to a signal-spoofing system installed by Russia in Syria, Israeli news channel Kan reports.

According to the report, pilots started having problems a few weeks ago, and Israel has sent a message to Moscow saying that the system is disrupting its civilian airspace, but Russia has maintained that the system is needed to protect its soldiers.

The interference with aircraft GPS reception appears to stem from a form of electronic warfare known as “spoofing,” which Russia has historically been accused of as a defensive measure, despite the disruptions it causes to nearby planes and ships. .

According to the report, the problem is related to a jammer installed at Hmeimem Air Force Base in Latakia, close to the site of a number of alleged Israeli airstrikes recently. However, officials reportedly believe the outage is aimed at other targets, with Israel suffering only collateral damage.

Crew members abandon a Russian Tu-22M3 bomber as it lands at Hemeimeem Air Force Base in Syria, May 25, 2021. (Russian Defense Ministry press service via AP)

A pilot tells the station that the spoofing caused pilots to respond suddenly, such as when an aircraft’s GPS guidance system tells it to be in a different place than it is, or to suddenly pull away immediately.

“What we ran into is [electromagnetic] spectrum interference from the east, it took us a while to understand what it is,” says the pilot.

Even before the report on the outage, some had learned of strange behavior from Israeli aircraft approaching Israel.

In 2019, Israeli civil air authorities publicly complained that similar Russian interference had a “significant impact on all aspects of operating an aircraft from the cockpit, as well as air traffic management.”

Russia dismissed the allegations as fake news, but the issue was addressed until recently.

This time, there has been no official confirmation or complaint about the interference.

The pilot accused officials of knowing about the problem but “burying their heads in the sand” rather than making an official complaint.

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