Jamming, Spoofing, and Spying, Oh My!

GPS interference in and around Ukraine. Image: HawkEye 360

The Secure World Foundation released its annual update of global counterspace capabilities today, and we dug through it for some of the most significant updates from its 2023 version. 

Zero to 100: The US does not publicly acknowledge any development program for a co-orbital capability that could rendezvous with and harm a satellite in orbit. However, the report predicts that it could spin one up “in a short period of time if it chooses to,” noting in a chart that there is “some” R&D into both LEO and MEO/GEO co-orbital tech.

Jamming and spoofing: Russia has ramped up its GPS interference campaign this year in Ukraine, interfering with the use of GPS-guided smart bombs, according to the report. GPS jamming and spoofing is also increasing in the Baltic Sea, with reports across Finland, Sweden, Poland, Estonia, and Latvia.

“The spoofing also included the first known cases of ‘circle spoofing’ impacting aviation, where a device’s location is altered to make it look like they are circling a fixed point on the ground, usually an international airport,” the report says.

About that nuke: The report touches on reports in February that Russia is developing a space-based anti-satellite nuclear weapon. Though it acknowledges that details are “scarce,” it posited that the idea behind the weapon would be to use an EMP to wipe out large batches of satellites. 

Do-si-do: The report provided an update on the whereabouts of some of China’s RPO assets. Its SJ-17 spacecraft, which launched in 2016, was spotted in November spending time near a Chinese-built Venezuelan comms satellite.

New kid on the block: It’s Israel’s first appearance in the global counterspace report, which makes several findings about Israeli national security space capabilities:

  • The nation’s ballistic missile defense system likely gives Israel DA-ASAT capabilities, even though it has never used the technology this way. . 
  • There was an exponential impact in jamming activities following Hamas’ attack in October, but it’s difficult to determine what is coming from Israel versus Hamas or other groups.
  • The country is developing a high-energy laser to defend from missile threats as part of its Iron Dome system, but the tech could be used to dazzle assets in orbit. 
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