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Russia refuses Israeli demand to stop jamming GPS of flights into Tel Aviv

February 1, 2022 at 4:05 pm

Fighter jets seen at Russia’s airbase in Syria, 8 January 2018 [Sputnik]

Russia has refused an Israeli demand to resolve an electromagnetic interference from its air base in Syria on the GPS of planes landing in Tel Aviv, further impacting relations between the two.

According to the KAN news channel yesterday, Israel sent a letter to Russia stating that the defence systems at the Russian Khmeimim Air Base in the Syrian port city of Latakia are causing electromagnetic interference in the GPS systems of planes landing in the Israeli capital.

A pilot for an airline company at Tel Aviv airport told the channel that the interference comes from “spoofing,” a form of electronic warfare, which has forced pilots to have to quickly react to sudden changes due to their GPS systems showing false locations and coordinates.

“What we’ve run into is [electromagnetic] spectrum interference from the east, which has taken us a while to understand,” the pilot said. Such interferences have reportedly been experienced over the past month, before they were finally narrowed down to originating from the Russian defence systems in Syria.

Moscow has now refused to heed Tel Aviv’s demand to resolve the issue, however, stating that the air defence systems at the Khmeimim base were placed there specifically to protect its soldiers in the region.

A similar incident took place in 2019, when Israel’s civil air authorities publicly complained that similar interference from Russia was causing “significant impact on all aspects of operating a plane from the cockpit, as well as on managing air traffic.” Russia dismissed the claims as fake news at the time, but later resolved the issue.

Some view Moscow’s refusal of Tel Aviv’s demand as an expression of anger or displeasure at continued Israeli strikes on Syrian territory controlled by the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, which Russia has assisted throughout the ongoing conflict in the country. In October, however, Russia reportedly told Israel that it would not hinder those strikes.

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