US accuses Russia of interfering with GPS satellite signals in Ukraine

Washington: The US has accused Russia of interfering with the global positioning system (GPS) satellites, used for navigation, mapping and other purposes, in Ukraine amid the ongoing war between the two countries.

According to General David Thompson at the Pentagon, Russia has also reportedly jammed the GPS system used by civilian aircraft along its borders with Finland, NBC news reported.

Thompson noted that while Russia has not yet attacked US GPS satellites in orbit, the US Space Force will be keeping a close watch.

“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.

Specifically, Russia is targeting the Navstar system of satellites used by the US and made available openly to many countries around the world, Thompson said.

The system, which uses 24 main satellites that orbit the Earth every 12 hours, works by sending synchronised signals to users on Earth, Space.com reported.

Ukraine’s fibre optic or cellular communication infrastructure connections were severed following the Russian invasion on February 24.

On February 26, Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister, also Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, called SpaceX chief Elon Musk for help. Following the request, SpaceX, along with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has so far delivered 5,000 starlink terminals to the war-torn country.

In early March, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk noted that Starlink signals have also been jammed, although 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.”

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