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HawkEye 360 tech reveals early GPS interference in Ukraine

Technology from HawkEye 360 Inc. has detected and geolocated extensive GPS interference over Ukraine, starting months before the Russian invasion. HawkEye 360 uses satellites to monitor radio-frequency signals that might threaten military and civil navigation applications.

The capability was tested in 2021 in a variety of exercises and is available as part of HawkEye 360’s RFGeo signal product catalog.

When HawkEye 360 analysts examined Ukraine over the past five months, they discovered continued and increased GPS interference across the region. The data showed extensive GPS interference in November 2021 along the boundary of the pro-Russian separatist-controlled regions in Luhansk and Donetsk.

Open-source information confirmed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operating in the area were disrupted because of lost GPS connections.

In February 2022, HawkEye 360 detected GPS interference along the border between Ukraine and Belarus, shortly before the Russian invasion started. This February activity occurred north of Chernobyl within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, demonstrating the integration of electronic warfare tactics into Russian military operation to further degrade Ukraine’s ability for self-defense.

“GPS is a fundamental ‘global commons’ service that all modern economies depend upon. GPS signal interference has the potential to significantly disrupt air travel, logistics, finance, transportation, communication and many other basic services,” said John Serafini, CEO of HawkEye 360.

“Whether unintentional or deliberate, interference that prevents people, vehicles, ships, and planes from determining accurate locations can be devastating to government and commercial activities alike,” Serafini said. “Since HawkEye 360 can monitor hundreds of millions of square kilometers daily, we are able to notify clients when and where GPS interference occurs, so they can respond quickly to mitigate the impacts.”

Interference can be inadvertent by equipment operating too close to GPS frequency bands. However, deliberate interference has spiked across the globe due to the low cost, ease of deployment, and general availability of GPS jamming technology.

Military forces use GPS jammers to obscure and protect critical troops, facilities and equipment from attack and can be a leading indicator of future military activity. Drug cartels use GPS jammers to deter surveillance from overhead drones. Use of jammers is illegal in most developed nations.

HawkEye 360’s detection product offers a valuable capability to monitor for illicit and unintentional GPS interference that can significantly disrupt critical location services, representing the company’s global commitment to make the world a safer place, the company said.

Image: Hawkeye 360

Image: HawkEye 360

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