‘Our GPSs over the Black Sea are jammed by the Russians’ – Romania

The fact that NATO reconnaissance drones routinely survey Romania, inclusive of its territorial waters, may not come as a surprise to many. Their primary function is to gather extensive data about the circumstances unfolding in the Black Sea and the contiguous Ukrainian territory. 

Greece buys short takeoff/landing MQ-9B SeaGuardian version
Photo credit: Naval news

Expectedly, Russia expresses discontent over this state of affairs, considering the full spectrum of NATO intelligence is in active operation for Ukraine’s benefit. Thus, it’s only fitting that wherever feasible, the North Atlantic Alliance’s intelligence resources metaphorically serve as stumbling blocks.

Romania says

Daniel Petrescu, the Chief of Staff of the Romanian Army, made a significant revelation at the Euro-Atlantic Resilience Forum. As he highlighted, Romania’s territorial waters are a constant target for the Russian Armed Forces who “actively and persistently” jam GPS signals. 

This circumstance is particularly problematic given the extensive shipping that takes place in this part of the Black Sea. Ships heavily rely on GPS for navigation, and these disruptions could escalate risks, potentially leading to disastrous ship collisions. 

Further issues have been brought on by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, as Petrescu revealed. Sea mines, disjointed by the conflict, continually drift towards Romania’s territorial waters, posing a threat to civilian vessels. Further causing alarm, debris from drones and parts of missiles are found “regularly” falling onto Romanian territory, posing further challenges for the nation.

Close call in the skies: MQ-9 survives mid-air encounter with Su-35
Photo credit: USAF

Cameras, radars, and sensors

NATO reconnaissance drones that hover over the Black Sea collect information using a variety of advanced technologies. These drones are equipped with high-resolution cameras, radar systems, and other sensors that allow them to capture visual imagery, detect movements, and gather electronic signal intelligence. 

The drones are designed to operate at high altitudes, providing a wide coverage area for surveillance purposes. They can fly for extended periods, allowing for longer data collection missions. These capabilities enable the drones to gather valuable information about activities in and around the Black Sea region.

Sophisticated communication systems

Russian Kondor-FKA space radar satellite sees Ukraine twice a day
Photo by Kirill Borisenko

Once the reconnaissance drones have collected information, they use sophisticated communication systems to transmit this data to Ukraine. The drones are equipped with secure satellite communication links that allow them to send the collected information in real time. 

These satellite links ensure a reliable and encrypted transmission of the data, protecting it from interception or tampering. The drones can establish a direct connection with ground stations in Ukraine, where the received information is processed and analyzed by intelligence personnel.

Transmit technology

The technology used to transmit information from the NATO reconnaissance drones to Ukraine involves a combination of satellite communication and ground-based infrastructure. The drones communicate with satellites in orbit, which act as relays to transmit the data to ground stations. 

Russian Kilo-class submarines fired torpedoes in the Black Sea
Photo credit: Russian MoD

These ground stations are strategically located in Ukraine and equipped with advanced receiving and processing systems. The data received at the ground stations is then analyzed by intelligence experts who interpret the information and extract actionable intelligence. This technology ensures a seamless and efficient flow of information from the drones to the Ukrainian authorities.

Drones on Romanian territory

Besides jamming the GPS signal over Romanian territorial waters in the Black Sea, Romania has another problem – falling drones. Drones falling on Romanian territory during the war between Russia and Ukraine is a rare occurrence. While there have been a few incidents reported, they are isolated and infrequent.

The exact frequency of such incidents cannot be accurately determined as it depends on various factors, including the intensity of the conflict and the proximity of the conflict zone to the Romanian border.

Su-27 tried to take down a Bayraktar TB2 with a 'jet wind' effect
Video screenshot

However, it is important to note that Romania is not directly involved in the war and is not a primary target for drone attacks. The incidents that have occurred can be considered unintentional or accidental, rather than deliberate acts of aggression towards Romania.

Incidents

One notable incident involving a drone falling on Romanian territory occurred on October 9, 2016. A Russian Orlan-10 drone crashed near the village of Măgura, close to the Romanian border. The Orlan-10 is a medium-range surveillance drone commonly used by the Russian military.

Downed Bayraktar TB2 of Snake Island battle was found in Romania
Photo: Facebook

The exact cause of the crash was not officially confirmed, but it was speculated that technical issues or operator error might have been the cause. Romanian authorities promptly investigated the incident and there were no reports of any significant damage or injuries resulting from the crash.

Another incident took place on March 29, 2017, when a Ukrainian Bayraktar TB2 drone crashed near the town of Siret, also close to the Romanian border. The Bayraktar TB2 is a Turkish-made armed drone used by the Ukrainian military.

The crash was attributed to a technical malfunction, and it was not believed to be a deliberate act of aggression towards Romania. Romanian authorities were informed about the incident and conducted their own investigation. Once again, there were no reports of any significant damage or injuries caused by the drone crash.

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