US officials are reporting that attack drones operating in the skies over Syria are facing GPS jamming efforts by the Russian military. The jamming is giving the drones incorrect location data, and officials say it is “seriously affecting” them.
The Pentagon has declined specific comment on how badly impacted the drones are, though successful GPS jamming could theoretically cause some of them to crash. UN surveillance drones used for monitoring are also being impacted.
US officials say they believe Russia is concerned that the US is about to attack the Syrian government, and that this is an effort to blunt the ability of US drones to participate in such an attack. They claim the jamming has been ongoing for several weeks.
The Trump Administration has very much been positioning themselves as about to attack the Syrian government, of course, but only in the past several days. Weeks of jamming may suggest Russia was concerned about US attacks even before the Saturday chemical weapon allegations.
This isn’t unreasonable, either, with the US making much of killing “hundreds” of Russian military contractors earlier this year, and Defense Secretary James Mattis revealing that the US almost attacked another group of contractors before Russia’s army chief of staff warned them away.