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PM suspects Russian link to GPS interference

12 Nov 2018, 03:46 ( 6 Months ago) | updated: 12 Nov 2018, 11:42 ( 6 Months ago)

DF News Desk
Prime Minister Juha Sipilä. Photo Finnish government by Laura Kotila.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä on Sunday said the alleged interference with the GPS satellite navigation service in northern Finland during a NATO exercise was intentional, reported the national broadcaster Yle.

Talking to Yle in an interview, the prime minister also said the perpetrator wanted to show its ability to undermine aviation GPS networks.

He said it’s highly probable that Russia was behind the signal blocking.

“Technology-wise it’s relatively easy to disturb a radio signal, and it’s possible that Russia was behind it,” the Yle report quoted Sipilä as saying, adding that Russia has the means to do it.

Earlier on Friday, the Finnish authorities said an investigation in this regard is going on and key parliamentarians in the national security sector expressed their concern over the incident.

The Finnish Air Navigation Service gave early last week a warning to the air traffic that satellite positioning based on the GPS system could be unreliable in a large area.

The situation assumed political dimensions on Friday as Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Matti Vanhanen said that such “infringement is comparable to a border violation”, reported the news agency Xinhua.

The disturbance occurred while a NATO exercise in northern Norway was coming to a close.

Norwegian media has attributed comparable interference with GPS detected in Norway to Russia.

Ilkka Kanerva, chairperson of the Parliamentary Defence Committee, said in areas where “civilian and military activities border on each other”, unpredictable and dangerous situations could be encountered.

Talking to Yle, Heikki Isonmaa, operational director of the Finnish Air Navigation Service (ANS), refused to speculate where the interference had come from. He said no information had reached the ANS that flights would have been affected.

The warning regarding GPS was the first of its kind in Finland.

The NOTAM (short of “Notice to Airmen”) that was in force on 6-7 November covered areas extending from the airport of Kittilä northwards to the Norwegian border and eastwards to the Russian border.