High alert as GPS disruptions spread to central Israel

Central Israel residents reported this morning that they were experiencing disruptions when using GPS-based navigation apps like Waze, Moovit and Google Maps. The Israeli app users “find themselves” in Beirut, Lebanon. This is probably about readiness and increasing alertness due to the military threat from the north and Iran. The aim is to disrupt cruise missiles and UAVs.


Jamming missiles and drones

When it comes to missiles that need to be jammed, these could be long-range anti-tank missiles (about 10 kilometer range) or cruise missiles. The long-range cruise missile that Iran could launch from its territory is the Soumar, with a range of about 1,350 kilometers. Intercepting a cruise missile is more difficult than intercepting ballistic missiles, which Israel achieved at the beginning of the war with its Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 systems, because a cruise guides itself. However, due to the self-maneuvering it is slower than a ballistic missile, similar to an airplane, and systems have been developed that know how to deal with the threat. A major danger in a cruise missile is that it can take a circular route, bypass radar systems and attack behind them. A cruise missile fired from Iran could potentially reach Israel from unexpected directions such as via the Mediterranean Sea.

GPS jamming is also intended to damage the navigation capabilities of unmanned aircraft of which Iran has at least 10 different types. These include loitering munitions like the Meraj 521, which can carry three kilograms of explosives, while the Shahad 136 can carry 45 kilograms. Iran’s biggest loitering munition is the Arash, which can carry 260 kilograms and has a range of 2,000 kilometers, so it could be launched in Iran and make its way to Israel.

A major advantage that Iran has developed in recent years has been through the large-scale supply of these munitions to Russia, for the war with Ukraine. Tehran has benefitted from the experience of the munitions in the battlefield, and the ability to make necessary adjustments from feedback.

Proactive measures

Past experience shows that the malfunctions of the type experienced by GPS-based app users this morning may be caused by disruptions caused by the IDF, but no official response has yet been forthcoming.

These GPS disruptions are nothing new. From the start of the war, disruptions of this kind have been initiated by Israel, but they were mostly felt in the north and south. Since the beginning of the war, northern residents have become accustomed to life without GPS – from navigation apps that do not work, sports watches that report that they are located in Lebanon, and even users of the dating app Tinder, who receive offers for dates in Beirut.

At the start of the war, the IDF admitted that it was proactively disrupting GPS. “During the fighting, GPS jamming is proactively activated for various operational needs to protect the security of the residents of the State of Israel,” the army said at the time.

In a study published at the University of Texas, it was claimed that the Israeli Air Force operates a very high power jammer from the air control unit in Meron. Estimates are that if the disruptions have been, this has an operational significance.

The IDF spokesperson announced last night that it has mobilized reservists for the air defense system. There is still no confirmation from the IDF spokesperson as to whether it is responsible for today’s GPS disruptions in central Israel.

Published by Globes, Israel business news – – on April 4, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

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