Ukraine

OSCE SMM Spot Report 13/2021: Emergency landing of long-range unmanned aerial vehicle due to dual GPS signal interference

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On 6 May, the SMM was conducting an announced SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flight. The UAV had taken off from its base in government-controlled Stepanivka (54km north of Donetsk) at 12:30 and had immediately experienced dual GPS signal interference, assessed as caused by jamming, which then had occurred at intervals during the flight. At 16:01, while flying over areas near Kolosky (non-government-controlled, 46km south-east of Donetsk), the UAV had again experienced dual GPS signal interference, assessed as caused by jamming, which continued uninterrupted for the remainder of the flight.

Between 18:35 and 19:05, due to the risk of a loss of spatial control, the SMM had attempted three landings of the UAV at its base in its Emergency Control Mode, the first two of which had failed due to continuing dual GPS signal interference. On its third attempt, while dual GPS signal interference persisted, the aircraft completed an emergency landing in a field about 600m north of its designated landing spot. The SMM retrieved the UAV and an initial assessment did not reveal visible damage.

The Mission again highlights that since 21 March 2021 the SMM’s long-range UAVs have been experiencing increased levels of GPS signal interference on take-off and landing, affecting both of their GPS receivers, in areas near their base in Stepanivka (See SMM Spot Reports of 7 April 2021, 9 April 2021 and 24 April 2021). The Mission notes that, in each case, the source of GPS signal interference could have originated from anywhere within the radius of tens of kilometres from the UAVs’ positions.

The SMM yet again notes that OSCE Permanent Council Decision No. 1117 specifies that the SMM shall have safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. Unrestricted and unconditional access to all areas is essential to ensure effective monitoring and reporting of the security situation, the ceasefire, the withdrawal of weapons, demining, as well as disengagement. The mandate also tasks the Mission to report on any restrictions of its freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate.

These incidents hinder the Mission’s ability to conduct effective monitoring and reporting of the security situation in line with its mandate. Long-range UAVs are an essential part of SMM operations, especially at night and in areas where the Mission’s monitoring and freedom of movement are restricted. While the SMM cannot identify the precise source of jamming, it has observed the presence of jamming equipment on both sides of the contact line.

Contacts

Dragana Nikolic-Solomon
Chief of Press and Public Information Unit
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
26 Turhenievska Street
01054 Kyiv
Ukraine
Office: +380 44 392 08 55
Mobile: +380 95 291 99 18
Dragana.Nikolic-Solomon@osce.org
SMM-PRESS@osce.org

Iryna Korobko
National Media Officer
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
26 Turhenievska Street
01054 Kyiv
Ukraine
Office: +380 44 392 09 84
Mobile: +380 67 235 38 16
iryna.korobko@osce.org
smm-press@osce.org