Ukraine

Spot Report 6/2021: SMM long-range UAV unable to take off due to dual GPS signal interference

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On the evening of 6 April, an SMM long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was unable to take off from its base in government-controlled Stepanivka (54km north of Donetsk) to conduct regular monitoring of areas on both sides of the contact line, due to dual GPS signal interference assessed as caused by jamming. This is the first time such interference has prevented a take-off since the Mission launched long-range UAV operations in October 2014.

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, located approximately 25km west-north-west of the contact line.

During pre-flight trials of the long-range UAV on the evening of 7 April, jamming at ground level persisted, impairing safe operation.

High levels of GPS signal interference with either or both GPS receivers have also been encountered during the UAVs’ regular flights. Over the last two months, 62.5 per cent of SMM long-range UAV flights encountered GPS signal interference, and on 75 per cent of the affected flights, it occurred more than once.

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 UAV’s position.

Any GPS signal interference hinders 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.

The Mission underlines that OSCE Permanent Council Decision No. 1117 specifies that the SMM shall have safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. The mandate also tasks the Mission to report on any restrictions of its freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate.

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