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Great Britain takes steps to prevent GPS jamming

The United Kingdom’s pursuit of technology to counter the threat of GPS jamming recently reached a significant milestone with the announcement that seven differential eLoran stations will be installed along the southern and eastern coasts.

Pending approval by the Department for Transport, the stations will provide alternative position, navigation and timing information to ensure that ships equipped with eLoran receivers can navigate safely in the event of GPS failure in one of the busiest shipping regions in the world, according to the General Lighthouse Authorities of the U.K. and Ireland. The GLAs have the statutory responsibility to provide marine aids to navigation around the British Isles.

The U.K. is the first in the world to deploy this technology for shipping companies operating both passenger and cargo services. Several nations around the world are consulting with the GLAs to benefit from their knowledge and experience in eLoran and other resilient PNT technologies.

The rollout, led by the GLAs, will replace the equipment in two prototype stations at Dover and Harwich. Five new stations will be deployed in Medway, Humber, Middlesbrough, Firth of Forth and Aberdeen.

The GLAs have contracted Chesapeake, Va.-based UrsaNav for the deployment to deliver initial operational capability by next summer.
GPS signals are vulnerable to deliberate and accidental jamming. This is causing increasing concern because of the wide availability of GPS jammers online for as little as $50 that are capable of causing complete outages across all receivers now on the market, according to the GLAs.

“Demands on marine navigation continue to increase and awareness of the vulnerability of GPS is growing, yet electronic systems at sea have not evolved at a sufficient pace to meet these challenges,” Martin Bransby, research and radionavigation manager at the GLAs, said in a statement.

“The number of inquiries we receive about eLoran and other resilient PNT technology continues to increase, and we are now approached for further information on a daily basis,” UrsaNav president and CEO Charles Schue said in a statement. “Much of this is testament to the example being set in the U.K., raising awareness of the need for a robust backup to GPS.”