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GPS jamming in Israel

Just as I was beginning to write this article, war broke out between Israel and terrorist forces in Gaza. It would seem that the rockets used by Gaza were aimed rather than carrying on-board guidance, while Israeli airforce bomb/rocket attacks have been carried out with some degree of precision. Nevertheless, jamming in Israel may still be relevant to the ongoing conflict and any on-going commercial aircraft activity. However, it seems from the diagram of jamming below, that the Gaza strip is virtually interference free.

One of the things you can be sure of in the Ukraine-Russia war is that one side or the other is jamming the other’s communications and sat-nav guidance systems. An apparent consequence is that there is likely some “spill-over” to adjacent areas. For Israel, however, it looks like it’s more directed jamming rather than incidental.

Israel GPS jamming. (Image: GPS

Israel GPS jamming. (Image: GPS

In this environment of intentional GPS jamming, it’s not surprising that Israel has produced a leading anti-jam technology company, called InfiniDome, in Caesarea (between Haifa and Tel-Aviv). According to co-founder Omer Sharar, the company has been working to defend GPS signals for more than seven years and has also seen the rise of devices to jam the GPS L1 frequency that anyone can buy online for $100.  

 Just as Ukraine is throwing explosive cardboard UAVs with little cost at Russian occupying forces, a few carefully placed low-cost jammers could inflict serious damage on a country’s navigation capabilities. 

 However, a 2019 presentation by Todd Humphreys identified the source of interference and spoofing at that time, a Russian high-power jammer located at a Russian base in Syria. 

Humphreys used instrumentation on the International Space Station (ISS) to gather data on the directed interference but concluded that the jamming in Israel could be a consequence of Russia’s efforts to protect its troops in Syria from UAV attacks. The Russian Khmeimim Air Base is on the Mediterranean coast and attacks are thought to come from rebels within Syria.

With the current GPS jamming out of Syria, most commercial aircraft traffic flying into Ben Gurion International Airport is significantly affected as flights cross from over the coast from the Mediterranean. Longer flight tracks deeper southeast into Israel are necessary, probably relying on VOR and DME ground station waypoints before turning back northwest to capture the instrument landing system (ILS) into the airport. This costs time and fuel and causes aircraft to overfly settlements where noise can be a real problem.

Most readily available jammer electronics only output interference disrupting GPS L1, which is most commonly installed for vehicle tracking and UAV guidance. InfiniDome has successfully protected trucking, UAV operations and others in Israel and around the world with its Infinidome GPSdome-1 and GPSdome-2 anti-jam products.

Gpsdome-1 (left) protects GPS L1. GPSdome-2 (right) protects GPS L1/L2 or GPS L1/GLONASS L1.

Gpsdome-1 (left) protects GPS L1. GPSdome-2 (right) protects GPS L1/L2 or GPS L1/GLONASS L1.

Two antennas 10 cm to 25 cm apart enable GPSDome-1 algorithms to detect and null out a GPS L1 jammer. GPSDome-2 accommodates up to four antennas and can null up to three directional signals on both GPS L1 and L2 or GPS L1 and GLONASS L1. 

InfiniDome is currently working with an aerospace company to integrate its anti-jam technology with airborne inertial/GPS and qualify the integrated system for use in civil aviation, with the objective of maintaining max 3% drift when fully jammed. This will introduce certified anti-jam technology into civil aviation use — something that will provide some jamming protection, which airlines desperately need going forward. In addition, other high-end UAV manufacturers are potential customers for this new system. 

While the ongoing conflict and the devastating loss of life is forefront as each day of the war passes, these anti-jam solutions may ultimately help solve signal degradation problems. While there is going to be a significant impact on commercial airline travel to and from Israel while hostilities continue, we can maybe see the way to a possible long-term solution for the intense jamming from which the region has suffered for many years. 

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