GPS jamming signals coming from North Korea has forced South Korea to order its military and civilian air transports to switch on alternative navigational devices to avoid disruption.
A statement from the ministry has confirmed that they were able to warn airlines and pilots of the 241 affected South Korean flights along with the 11 foreign airlines like Thai Airways, AirPhil, FedEx, Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways. But even as the GPS jamming signals continued, South Korea sees no serious threat to navigational safety.
Korea Communications Commission confirmed that the GPS jamming signals have been coming from a city on North Korea side of the border. “We’ve traced the jamming signals to the direction of Kaesong,” a commission deputy director told Springhill Group.
According to the transport agency, planes that suffered from GPS signal jamming were instructed to use the alternative navigation systems and were not delayed in their schedules. The signal jamming appears to be focused on air traffic at Gimpo and Incheon airports, both of which are around 30 miles from the border.
Despite the GPS disruption, Springhill Group reports that there was no serious threat to flight safety as airplanes are capable of using other navigation devices like inertial navigation system and very-high-frequency omni-directional range (VOR). Meanwhile, military communications and transportation were not greatly affected as they do not primarily depend on the GPS system.
North Korea did not admit anything so the reason for the GPS jamming remains unclear as fears that another nuclear test might follow is escalating.
Likewise, it is not known for just how long the jamming will continue as during last year’s South Korea-US military drill, the radio signal jamming from Pyongyang has lasted for ten days. At any rate, South Korea is always on the lookout for any provocation from its neighbor, especially as a nuclear specialist has said that North Korea appears to be finishing its preparations for a nuclear test and might just be waiting for a government green light.
Last year, the defense minister of South Korea has warned that jamming devices could potentially disrupt guided weapons, posing a threat to security. The devices are effective for approximately 150 miles when put on structures like a TV transmission antenna and it is widely believed that Pyongyang got the devices from Russian firms as they were already encountered previously during the Operation Iraqi Freedom where GPS-guided weapons missed their targets.
North Korea has long been known for its provocative actions attempting to get the world’s attention. The most notable of the threats was issued through news agencies last month and have raised great concern:
“The special actions of our revolutionary armed forces will start soon to meet the reckless challenge of the group of traitors…. They will reduce all the rat-like groups and the bases for provocations to ashes in three or four minutes, in much shorter time, by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style.”