The United States has accused Russia of interfering with GPS satellites in Ukraine, which are used for navigation, mapping, and other purposes due to the ongoing conflict between the two countries.
According to General David Thompson of the Pentagon, Russia has also reportedly jammed the GPS system used by civilian aircraft along its borders with Finland, as reported by NBC news.
Thompson stated that, while Russia has not yet launched an attack on US GPS satellites in orbit, the US Space Force will be keeping a close eye on the situation.
“Ukraine may not be able to use GPS because there are jammers around that prevent them from receiving any usable signal,” Thompson, the Space Force’s vice chief of space operations, told NBC Nightly News.
“Certainly the Russians understand the value and importance of GPS and try to prevent others from using it,” Thompson added.
Russia is specifically targeting the Navstar satellite system, which is used by the United States and is freely available to many countries around the world, according to Thompson.
According to Space.com, the system works by sending synchronised signals to users on Earth via 24 main satellites that orbit the Earth every 12 hours.
Following the Russian invasion on February 24, Ukraine’s fibre optic and cellular communication infrastructure connections were severed.
On February 26, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov, who is also Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, asked SpaceX CEO Elon Musk for assistance. So far, SpaceX and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have delivered 5,000 starlink terminals to the war-torn country in response to the request.
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, stated in early March that Starlink signals have also been jammed, but that his company is adapting.
“Some Starlink terminals near conflict areas were being jammed for several hours at a time,” Musk wrote on Twitter.
“Our latest software update bypasses the jamming.”