ACA set to ban sat-nav jammers

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) appears set to ban radio navigation satellite service (RNSS) jammers, including global positioning system (GPS) jammers after releasing a background paper on the subject last week.

While it is hard to envisage what possible commercial applications such a technology could have, a spokesman for the ACA said, without offering specifics, that jamming technologies were generally under scrutiny as a number of such devices had recently become available for purchase through "Russian Web sites".

Satellite jammers are widely used by the military in electronic warfare applications, namely the ability to interfere with the guidance systems of missiles, precision ordnance and target acquisition.

The ACA investigation into, and likely ban of sat-nav jammers, comes as the uptake of civilian use of integrated satellite communications, data and positioning systems increases with logistics firms, emergency services and fleet management providers all taking the technology on board.

Meanwhile, the US military has announced that it has started testing of the DARPA (US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)-developed P2P-based jamming system designed to cripple and or monitor communications networks without interfering with its own communications systems.

Codenamed WolfPack, the system is based on small cylinders designed to be scattered on a battlefield from the air or by other means.

"Once a cylinder hits the ground, it checks itself out. If everything is working properly, the fins will erect and make the device stand up. An inflatable antenna goes up and it generates a radio signal. They form a network. WolfPack networks find other wolfPack networks and eventually find a path back to the command centre," claims Preston Marshall, DARPA's WolfPack program manager in an American Forces Press Service release.

Troops may also carry the devices with them, dubbed a "six-pack in a backpack" to assist in setting up defensive perimeters and monitoring areas.

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Julian Bajkowski

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