GPS IS AT WAR. It is a major asset for United States and allied military forces in a number of operating theaters around the world in both declared and undeclared conflicts. But GPS is at war on the domestic front, too — at war against a proliferation of jamming equipment being marketed to cause deliberate interference to GPS signals to prevent GPS receivers from computing positions to be locally stored or relayed via tracking networks.
There have been many notable examples of deliberate jamming of GPS receivers. Many more likely go undetected each day. In 2009, outages of a Federal Aviation Administration reference receiver at Newark Liberty International Airport close to the New Jersey Turnpike were traced to a $33, 200 milliwatt GPS jammer in a truck that passed the airport each day. The driver was reportedly arrested and charged. In July 2010, two truck thieves in Britain were jailed for 16 years. They used GPS jammers to prevent the trucks from being tracked after the thefts. And in Germany, some truck drivers have been using jammers to evade the country’s GPS-based road-toll system.
The U.S. and some foreign governments have enacted laws to prohibit the importation, marketing, sale or operation of these so-called personal privacy devices. Nevertheless, a certain number of jammers are in the hands of individuals around the world and they continue to be available from manufacturers and suppliers in certain countries. So, GPS jamming is a continuing threat both at home and abroad and a detailed understanding of how the available jammers work is necessary to judge their effectiveness and limitations. This information will also help in developing countermeasures that could be incorporated into GPS receivers to limit the impact of jammers.