The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Russia reportedly jamming US drones in Syria

Russia has hampered American military operations in Syria by jamming some of its drones after several suspected chemical weapons attacks on civilians, according to a report.

Four US officials told NBC News that Moscow was concerned that the US would retaliate for the attacks in rebel-held eastern Ghouta, so it began jamming the GPS systems of some smaller drones.

Todd Humphreys, chief of the Radionavigation Lab at the University of Texas at Austin, said blocking or scrambling a drone’s reception of signals from GPS satellites can be quite simple.

“GPS receivers in most drones can be fairly easily jammed,” said Humphreys, who warned that jammed drones may malfunction and even crash.

“At the very least it could cause some serious confusion” for the drone operator if the unmanned aircraft reports an incorrect position or is lost, he told NBC News.

American analysts first noticed the Russian military jamming drones in eastern Ukraine after the invasion of Crimea four years ago, Humphreys said.

The jammers “had a pretty significant impact” on UN surveillance drones, which were grounded for days after gathering intelligence from the air.

American military officials would not say whether the latest jamming has caused drones to crash, citing operational security.

“The US military maintains sufficient countermeasures and protections to ensure the safety of our manned and unmanned aircraft, our forces and the missions they support,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said.

But the sources told NBC that Russian’s sophisticated jamming equipment, which was developed by its military, has proved to be effective even against some encrypted signals and anti-jamming receivers.

So far, the affected drones are smaller devices, as opposed to the larger Predators and Reapers that are often used in combat environments and may be armed.

Humphreys said that targeting drones in cyberspace can be just as damaging as shooting them down.

“It’s like shooting at them with radio waves instead of bullets,” he said.

Source: Russia reportedly jamming US drones in Syria