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Wednesday
Mar092011

North Korea Disrupting Military Maneuvers by Jamming GPS

South Korean soldiers stand guard at a west sea checkpoint on Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea. Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- North Korea appears to be protesting the joint U.S. and South Korean military maneuvers by jamming Global Positioning Devices in the south, which is a nuisance for cell phone and computers users -- but is a hint of the looming menace for the military.

Since March 4, Pyongyang has been trying to disrupt GPS receivers critical to South Korean military communications apparently in protest of the ongoing joint military training exercises between South Korean and U.S. forces.  Strong jamming signals were sent intermittently every five to 10 minutes.

The scope of the damage has been minimal, putting some mobile phones and certain military equipment that use GPS signals on the fritz.

Large metropolitan areas including parts of Seoul, Incheon, and Paju have been affected by the jamming, but "the situation is getting wrapped up, no severe damage has been reported for the last two days," Kyoungwoo Lee, deputy director of Korea Communications Commission, said.

The jamming, however, has raised questions about whether the Korean peninsula is bracing for new electronic warfare.

The North is believed to be nearing completion of an electromagnetic pulse bomb that, if exploded 25 miles above ground would cause irreversible damage to electrical and electronic devices such as mobile phones, computers, radio, and radar, experts say.

"We assume they are at a considerably substantial level of development," Park Chang-kyu of the Agency for Defense Development said at a briefing to the parliament Monday.

Park confirmed that South Korea has also developed an advanced electronic device that can be deployed in times of war.

The current attempts to interfere with GPS transmissions are coming from atop a modified truck-mounted Russian device.  Pyongyang reportedly imported the GPS jamming system from Russia in early 2000 and has since developed two modified versions.

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