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NATO Exercise Banned From Jamming GPS 260

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-jamming-zone dept.
judgecorp writes "A major NATO exercise off the coast of Scotland has been ordered to stop using GPS jamming technology after complaints that to do so would endanger the lives of fishermen and disrupt civilian mobile phones. The exercise — called 'Joint Warrior' — planned to disrupt GPS for 20 miles around each warship"
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NATO Exercise Banned From Jamming GPS

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  • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @10:16PM (#37697666) Journal

    "I am William Wallace. And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny! You have come to fight as free men. And free man you are! What will you do without freedom? Will you fight?” Two thousand against ten?” – the veteran shouted. No! We will run – and live!” Yes!” Wallace shouted back. Fight and you may die. Run and you will live WITHOUT GPS at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and GET A SATELLITE LOCK? Tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our GPS SIGNAL!”

  • fake it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @10:16PM (#37697670)

    why not fake it?
    just turn off the red teams GPS's when their with in 20mi of a warship, problem solved.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Isn't that sorta like testing a bullet proof vest by using blanks?

      • Re:fake it (Score:5, Informative)

        by digitalchinky (650880) <dtchky@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @11:09PM (#37697980)

        Not at all. The effect jamming has on GPS is already well established and can be reliably reproduced in a lab/classroom environment - the receivers mostly just cease to work. Also nothing screams "I am exactly right here" quite like a jammer does, any half decent rack of ELINT gear will locate it within a very short space of time.

        The parent is correct.

        • Sounds like finding GPS jammers would be a good part of the exercise.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by rtb61 (674572)

          More dubiously consider the logic of jamming GPS ie obviously your ships can still navigate with GPS jammed otherwise it would be a really stupid thing to do. So if your ships can readily navigate without GPS , then you can be pretty sure that all other military vessels will be able to do the same.

          So this is not a military exercise in the normal sense, this exercise is obviously targeted at military actions against civilian populations, where GPS jamming comes into play, along with of course communicatio

          • Re:fake it (Score:4, Informative)

            by icebike (68054) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @01:47AM (#37698542)

            So if your ships can readily navigate without GPS , then you can be pretty sure that all other military vessels will be able to do the same.

            So this is not a military exercise in the normal sense, this exercise is obviously targeted at military actions against civilian populations, where GPS jamming comes into play,

            What a load of rubbish.

            Near-fleet GPS jamming has nothing to do with ship navigation. Navies have been navigating ships without GPS for several hundred years. GPS jamming is to decoy incoming missiles which use GPS as ONE OF the methods of target location.

            Civilians, on the other hand have no critical dependency on GPS. Its largely a toy for the day to day user and a convenient (but non critical) aid for the traveler.

            The GPS bands are no where near satellite TV bands.

            GPS satellites broadcast at the same two frequencies, 1.57542 GHz (L1 signal) and 1.2276 GHz (L2 signal).
            Satellite TV uses the C-band frequencies of 5.4 GHz band (5.15 to 5.35 GHz, or 5.47 to 5.725 GHz, or 5.725 to 5.875 GHz, depending on the region of the world).

            Therefore it seems highly unlikely GPS jamming is the cause of any significant TV reception problems.
            G-Band (aka C-Band Radar) sits right in the middle of the Satellite TV band, and that is the likely source of any TV interference.

            • by AmiMoJo (196126)

              Civilians, on the other hand have no critical dependency on GPS. Its largely a toy for the day to day user and a convenient (but non critical) aid for the traveler.

              Actually civilian aircraft rely on GPS quite a bit. That was one of the reasons why the US disabled their ability to reduce the accuracy of GPS. You can navigate without one but it is less safe because you are reliant on instruments that can drift or fail and on communicating with ground radar.

              • by icebike (68054)

                Gps on civilian aircraft is very new, having been pioneered by Alaska Airlines less than ten years ago. It is still an auxiliary nav method.

                But this story is not about the USA.

                • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                  by Anonymous Coward

                  No, _this_ story is about the dangerous Scottish coastal waters.

                  Any mid-range ship-to-shore radio gear you buy these days hooks up to GPS. When mummy and daddy both go down below to fight the engine room fire and they don't come back, little Katie just presses the big red "somebody come help" button like she was taught. The radio transmits the correct identity for the boat, including its description, and its current co-ordinates, with the distress signal and there's a fair chance somebody will come rescue K

            • Re:fake it (Score:4, Insightful)

              by beelsebob (529313) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @04:38AM (#37699102)

              Civilians, on the other hand have no critical dependency on GPS. Its largely a toy for the day to day user and a convenient (but non critical) aid for the traveler.

              Once upon a time this may have been true, but when there's 1) people out in fishing trawlers/recreational vessels 2) people up on top of mountains 3) aircraft trying to fly about the place it's not really so true. Sure, most of these people could default to navigating the old fashioned ways, but you can bet heavily that one or two of them will not have a compass/sextant/etc with them, and that every so often it *will* cost lives. I'd call that a critical dependency.

            • by RogerWilco (99615)

              So if your ships can readily navigate without GPS , then you can be pretty sure that all other military vessels will be able to do the same.

              So this is not a military exercise in the normal sense, this exercise is obviously targeted at military actions against civilian populations, where GPS jamming comes into play,

              I've got a friend in the navy, and he tells me that navigating without GPS is becoming somewhat rare, and something that has to be specifically practiced during excercise to keep enough routine to be confident. Especially when on a minesweeper, like he is.

              Civilians, on the other hand have no critical dependency on GPS. Its largely a toy for the day to day user and a convenient (but non critical) aid for the traveler.

              I've encountered a lot of people that nowadays are completely lost without GPS. Literally. They don't have maps or anything similar in the car, even touring bus drivers, taxi drivers, lorry/truck drivers and such.
              A couple of years ago I was on a bus on hol

            • by Sockatume (732728)

              You've assumed "civilians" to mean "Joe Public on land". Believe it or not there are other civilians - the emergency services, scientists and engineers, whatever - in land, sea, and air for who GPS availability is significantly more than "a toy".

    • Re:fake it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by wvmarle (1070040) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @12:29AM (#37698304)

      A major military exercise... and they do not close those waters for the week or two these drills last?

      Civilian ships should stay the hell out of there. Stay well away from those war ships, they're in exercise, and may perform unpredictable maneuvers. There may be small craft out there. Projectiles flying around.

      If a ship comes within GPS jammed range then they're way too close to begin with I'd say. Yes this may cause some inconvenience to some fishermen or other seamen, but the ocean is big. Plenty of other places to sail to.

      • by icebike (68054)

        Exactly what I was thinking.

        What the hell is a fishing boat doing within 20 miles of a major exercise?

        • by evilandi (2800) <andrew@aoakley.com> on Thursday October 13, 2011 @02:45AM (#37698730) Homepage

          >What the hell is a fishing boat doing within 20 miles of a major exercise?

          Scotland is only 200 miles x 150 miles in size. A fourty-mile exclusion zone (20 miles radius) would kill the entire marine economy for the western coast of the country.

          And the marine economy is pretty much the only economy in western Scotland.

          • by mwvdlee (775178)

            So why can't the military just test this a hundred miles farther away?
            Is there a specific reason they need to be close to civilians to test this?

            • by evilandi (2800)

              Short answer: They are probably simulating the invasion of a nuclear submarine base. This requires: 1x nuclear submarine base.

              >So why can't the military just test this a hundred miles farther away?

              Because it is difficult to simulate the invasion of a nuclear submarine base using a bunch of pontoons in the Atlantic. The nuclear submarine base in question, at Faslane, is attached to a fixed landmass (the Scottish mainland).

              >Is there a specific reason they need to be close to civilians to test this?

              Yes.

        • What the hell is a major exercise doing within 20 miles of fishing boats?

      • by evilandi (2800) <andrew@aoakley.com> on Thursday October 13, 2011 @02:34AM (#37698700) Homepage

        >the ocean is big

        Sigh. Mercator Projection [wikimedia.org].

        The "ocean" around Scotland is NOT big. The SEA around Scotland is actually quite small. It's as far north as Newfoundland and Labrador.

        It just LOOKS big on the map due to two-dimensional maps stretching out the northern and southern extremities of Earth.

        Scotland, in particular Faslane, is where NATO keeps its nuclear submarines. The locals live cheek-by-jowl with these submariners and for the most part get along just fine. But closing off all the sea between all the inhabited islands in the west of Scotland just isn't feasible.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You assume that the military exercise actually benefit society more than those fishermen.
        Thing is that all of that exercise is funded by tax money and those fishermen pay that tax.
        I am willing to fund the military to ensure that I will have my freedom. If the own military starts to restrict my freedom then I don't care if it is the military that I pay taxes to that causes this or if it is a foreign military force, the end result is the same.

        So yes, unless you live in a military fascist state (This is not ht

      • by Asic Eng (193332)

        [...]the ocean is big.

        So one option should be to have GPS-jamming exercises somewhere else, someplace where you don't have lots of civilian fishermen around.

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        And shut off ferry traffic to the islands, their only means of transport?

      • by zevans (101778)

        yes this may cause some inconvenience to some fishermen or other seamen, but the ocean is big.

        And inconvenience to their families, and their customers, and their customers' families...

        There are not enough fishing grounds to go around as it is. Can't they go and play somewhere else? Or is part of the exercise looking at how the UK deals with food shortages?

        In other words...

        Military ships should stay the hell out of there.

        FTFY.

    • Re:fake it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @01:50AM (#37698552)
      Some reasons I can think of;

      a) Lots of soldiers have civilian gear as well. E.g. iPhones. You don't want them to have the opportunity to cheat. You do want them to use the gear in the way that they might without GPS so they have the feel for how it would be.

      b) Lots of systems are doing automated switch over; it may not be possible to properly activate that mode in the presence of GPS. E.g. if you have a system which does GPS navigation normally and then switches over to inertial navigation, you want to act as if there was a real GPS jamming.

      To be frank, anybody, military or otherwise who's operating GPS gear without a working fallback is irresponsible. What they should do is introduce safety regulations which say so and then give a very large fine to fishermen who complain next time. That will reduce the discussion.

    • by pla (258480)
      why not fake it?

      Or, since the US controls the actual satellites, why not show the whiners exactly how much power they have here, and run the exercise with the GPS system really turned off (if not worldwide, at least in smallest area that will completely knock out that region)?

      When the US military (sorry, *cough* NATO *cough*) actually suggests a reasonable, small-scale approach to a problem, we need to encourage them, not complain that they didn't use the bigger gun.
  • But (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @10:38PM (#37697792)
    Will it jam GLONASS?
  • by SlayerofGods (682938) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @10:39PM (#37697798)
    Why do we need an exercise to jam our own satellites? Shouldn't they be practicing jamming GLONASS or something?
    • Why do we need an exercise to jam our own satellites?

      One of the first precepts in defense is knowing what vulnerabilities your systems have.
      "How do we operate without freely available GPS?" would be one of those.
      • Yah but you can test that by turning it off.....
        I mean to simulate an attack on the base you don't actually need to drop bombs on it.
        • not if what you want to practice is the countermeasures themselves. You can't track a GPS jamming signal without having a jamming signal to track...

          You can simulate it with other bands, but the equipment is not quite the same, so you won't get the same practice. At some point you have to do the real thing.

        • by Splab (574204)

          But you do. If you want to find out how sturdy a bunker is you throw explosives at a replica.

          If you want to find out how effective a missile is, you tend to testfire it and see what happens - yeah you can simulate a whole lot, but in the end, only way to figure out if your guidance is still bolted to the right bit before impact is to fire the missile and see where it ends up.

    • Re:Weird? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by subreality (157447) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @10:56PM (#37697880)

      It's not to practice jamming... it's to practice operating when the Bad Guys are doing the jamming.

      • by MikeUW (999162)

        I'm not sure I agree. If it was to practice what happens when the enemy is jamming your GPS, then did any of these geniuses just think to turn the bloody things off, and simply pretend the enemy is jamming them?

        • Re:Weird? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by subreality (157447) on Wednesday October 12, 2011 @11:44PM (#37698132)

          1, There are are a whole lot of GPSes involved. It's a lot more than a nav unit on the bridge, and they don't all share a single off-switch.

          2, You don't want to practice "OK, everyone turn off your GPS now and switch to plan B!". You want to practice "Why are we drifting to starboard? Is this an instrumentation failure? WTF is ERROR 7505?", because that's how it happens when you're doing it for real and you need to learn to work through that kind of confusion.

          • by Splab (574204)

            Also, jamming the stuff at sea during engagement is akin to throwing unexpected input at a function - yeah we know we can comment the bastard out/switch it off, but what happens when it starts producing gibberish and your missiles are trying to use said gibberish for flying.

        • They are presumably not testing how middies cope with no nav, they are testing how the equipment itself responds to local jamming. (And whether those middies can tell when their systems are in the jamming zone or not. Ie, how they cope with the cognitive dissonance of unreliable information.)

          There's a big difference between "Okay, turn your nav screens off. We're doing a manual nav exercise today!" and dealing with nav systems which might be in error and which respond to signal jamming in different and rand

        • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

          Hey Everyone! Quiet!

          This random dude here has something important to say about large-scale naval training!

          Ok bud, what were you saying?

      • by bky1701 (979071)
        Which brings me to the, possibly stupid, but still obvious, question: why don't they just turn off their GPS systems?
    • by afidel (530433)
      I'm sure the jammers are wide enough band (you'd have to try really for them to not be if they can jam a signal in a 400 mi^2 area) to block the nearby GLONASS signals (the L1 and L2 codes are carried on nearly adjacent frequencies by both systems and those are currently the only ones used for navigation). Btw Galileo and Compass also put their L1 and L2 (different names but same idea) in the 1.55-1.6 GHz range so they too would be jammed by a moderately wideband jammer, or heck probably just a Lightsquared
    • my first impression was testing how well NATO sailors are able to work without it
      though trying to figure out the vulnerabilities in your own systems is also a good idea.

  • I thought gps was a military thing and that all that civvy stuff was just freeloading.
    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      It is. GPS was originally created so that nuclear missile carrying submarines could know very quickly where they were launching their missiles from, in order to be able to compute the right trajectory. Of course its use has been expanded way beyond that to aircraft which use combined GPS/inertial navigation systems and of course now even munitions - JDAMs are "fire and forget" GPS-guided weapons that offer advantages over laser/tv guided bombs because they don't need a laser to be pointed at the target and
      • by Rich0 (548339)

        Wouldn't relying on GPS in a nuclear war be a bit crazy unless you were planning a first strike? That is, unless you expect your GPS satellites to survive the first strike?

        I would think that LEO would be EMP city not long into WWIII.

        Of course, if the submarine updates its position periodically then it would have a moderately accurate fix to start with, but I can't imagine that INS is that reliable with the accuracy of modern ICBMs. Then again, don't ICBMs have star-finders or such built into them once the

        • GPS satellites are in a 12 hour orbit, which is fairly high up. That also puts them in the middle of the Van Allen radiation belts. If I remember correctly, they are hardened to about a MegaRad, partly to survive their normal orbit conditions, and partly to survive nuclear effects. So yes, they would survive the start of a nuclear war, it's part of the design requirements.

          A nuclear sub's job is to get lost on the ocean. That means to sit quietly underwater so nobody can find it. Coming up to the surfac

    • by sjames (1099)

      Half and half. It was a U.S. DOD thing, but to make sure they got it funded they included civilian benefits in the bullet points. They even designed a two tiered accuracy into the system so that by knowing the right decryption keys the military units could give more accurate positions.

      So it's fair to say that the civilian use was intended from the start.

    • by Asic Eng (193332)

      ... civvy stuff was just freeloading.

      Freeloading in which sense? Who pays for the military stuff?

  • Seriously, guys. Off the coast of Scotland? Why not, say, here? [wikipedia.org]

    • by dkf (304284)

      Seriously, guys. Off the coast of Scotland?

      It's close to a base (saving a lot of transit time) and great for practicing maneuvering in tricky waters. But they should practice being without GPS by just turning the receivers off, not jamming them.

  • Navigation at sea (Score:3, Informative)

    by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @12:11AM (#37698248)
    Navigation at sea isn't that straight forward. You have to take into account the magnetic declination, the magnetic deviation of the compass on the ship, corrections for wind and current. And then comes the different chart type you have to know. And the tides, yes, the tides. And that's about it...

    I recently studied all of this and passed the theoretic exam. Hey, I want to be a seaman.

    The practice is somewhat different. You take GPS for granted. You also take the plotter for granted. And the collision warning thingy that goes beeeeep.

    I wouldn't be surprised if a disruption of GPS actually will kill people. And I don't blame GPS but the able navigators that probably aren't.
    • by dkf (304284)

      I wouldn't be surprised if a disruption of GPS actually will kill people. And I don't blame GPS but the able navigators that probably aren't.

      Before GPS, a lot of seamen died from poor navigation. Knowing where you are at sea is hard, especially when conditions are less than ideal. The issue is just that there are far fewer landmarks (hah!) and if visibility is obscured by storm, rain or fog, you just don't know where you are. The old methods of navigation (a chronometer, compass and sextant) are only relatively crude. GPS has made a gigantic difference to marine safety, making going onto known rocks, sandbars and other (semi-)fixed obstacles a m

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