Norwegian intelligence officials have confirmed earlier suspicions that Russia was using electronic warfare to jam GPS signals during its recently concluded massive Zapad (West) 2017 war games.
Intelligence officials say the jamming of aircraft GPS took place as Russian and Belorussian forces simulated combat operations against NATO across the border from Norway’s northernmost county.
Flights from both SAS and Widerøe were jammed. The Russians reportedly were practicing electronic warfare when the jamming occurred.
Pilots for Widerøe and SAS reacted when their GPS on flights over Finnmak stopped functioning as usual. The GPS worked when the aircraft was on the ground, but dropped out as soon as the flights reached an altitude of 2,000- to 3,000 feet.
“In connection with the military exercise Zapad 2017, the ingelligence service can confirm that we both have registered and alerted Norwegian authorities about electronic jamming from the Russian side of the border,” Kim Gulbrandsen, communications chief for the intelligence service, wrote in an email to NRK.
Gulbrandsen noted further that such electronic jamming is traditionally used against one’s own forces during military exercises. “The equipment used is meant to disturb communications and navigations systems,” Gulbrandsen wrote. The system used in this case “is of a character that it can affect communications and navigation systems, such as GPS, in the border area on the Norwegian side.”
Norwegian officials said they did not believe the Russians were intentionally targeting Norway’s air traffic.
Why it’s on our radar: Information in this article helps satisfy Priority Intelligence Requirement 1: What are the latest indicators of a NATO-Russia conflict? Each week in our Strategic Intelligence Summary, we gauge the likelihood and scope of conflict with Russia, China, North Korea, and in the Middle East, and track the latest developments in each region. Subscribe here to receive our premium intelligence products prepared by Intelligence and special operations veterans.