Electronic Weapons: September 10, 2004


Evidence is  starting to show up that there are several electronic warfare efforts are underway within the United States to increase protection from terrorist attack. For example, GPS "anomalies" (unpredictable GPS performance) have been documented by airline pilots and electronics experts near U.S. nuclear facilities. Commercial airline pilots landing at one airport near a nuclear facility have reported these anomalies during final approaches. In other studies, experts have documented large errors in civilian GPS receivers used within a quarter mile of a nuclear facility. Repeatedly driving around the plant and monitoring different models of commercial receivers, GPS-indicated speeds were consistently twice that of the car's actual speed, with GPS readouts of terrain elevation registering at sea level, even through the facility was several thousand feet above sea level. 

Speculation is that gross errors are being introduced by transmitting low-power "corrections" close to the facility, effectively spoofing (deceiving) of any sort of guided weapon dependant upon GPS signals for targeting. Neither the National Nuclear Security Administration, or the Homeland Security Department will comment. Ironically, Los Alamos National Laboratory published a paper in 2003 on how to implement spoofing countermeasures for civilian GPS devices.

Meanwhile, in Waldorf Maryland, 20 minutes south of Andrews Air Force Base in Washington D.C., the little black frobs that unlock car doors keyless entry remote control have mysteriously stopped working on at least five occasions in the past year. People have had to result to old-fashioned metal keys, although some systems require the remote signal to start the engine as a theft-preventive measure. These devices operate at frequencies of 302 and 315 megahertz, bands primarily licensed for use by the military and the federal government. Since the commercial devices don't have dedicated access to the frequency, they must accept interference from other devices. The affected drivers aren't happy. AT&T has made cryptic statements that the interference is coming from its 300 foot microwave tower in town, via some kind of "government" activity, but is saying little else. It is not clear if the interference is a byproduct of communications or intentional jamming as a measure against remotely triggered bombs that would use keyless entry devices as triggers. Doug Mohney


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