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​Tobol System in russian Kaliningrad Jams GPS Over Europe, and It Does Cause Problems

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Visible part of the 14Ts227 Tobol satellite communication suppression system / Open source illustrative photo
Visible part of the 14Ts227 Tobol satellite communication suppression system / Open source illustrative photo

The 14Ts227 Tobol satcom suppression system is deployed in the Kaliningrad enclave in the Baltic, and it is effectively used to hinder GPS signals

From time to time, russia tries to obstruct satellite navigation in Europe, and these attempts have become more frequent in the past few weeks. Problems with GPS were observed in Poland and the Baltic states in late December and on January 16–18.

The GPSjam, a public online service collecting and processing data on satellite navigation, vividly illustrates the scale of the problem. The lack of reliable GPS connection mostly creates troubles for civilian infrastructure and civil services, hinders maritime navigation.

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Map, data credit: GPSjam
Red marks the areas with high GPS interference / Map, data credit: GPSjam

The source of these issues is located in Kaliningrad, Erik Markus Kannike, Estonian specialist at intelligence gathering and CSO at SensusQ data software company, is assured. Specifically, he notes one of the russian secretive Tobol systems is deployed in Kaliningrad, in the epicenter of the GPS problems, and actively causing them.

Screenshot of the relevant post by Erik Markus Kannike is provided due to Twitter embedding issues
The screenshot of the relevant post by Erik Markus Kannike is provided due to Twitter embedding issues. Click to view the original

The existence of the Tobol system, designated 14Ts227, has been known for a while now. Information about ongoing construction of similar systems dates back to 2020: in the Moscow Oblast near Shchyolkovo and Krasnoznamensk (not confirmed), a bit farther from Moscow in Maloyaroslavets (not confirmed), near Ulan-Ude closer to the Mongolian border, near Ussuriysk in the Far East, near Yeniseysk in Siberia, near Armavir in the Caucasus, and in Kaliningrad.

Basically, a Tobol is a stationary and bulky electronic warfare system specifically for obstructing satellite communications. The exact principles are not disclosed but it is believed to affect the satellites themselves.

Although an important aspect here is that thanks to the massive leak of secret info from the russian Special Technology Center LLC, Ukraine and its allies are probably already familiar with the real capabilities of Tobol, as this russian enterprise takes a major part in production of this jammer.

14Ts227 Tobol antenna at Special Technology Center LLC, russia
14Ts227 Tobol antenna at Special Technology Center LLC, russia / Open source photo

That said, Tobol is not the only way russia can suppress satellite navigation. Apart from this unmovable system, the interference can be generated by mobile systems like Pole-21 or Zhitel.

In general, there are many EW systems deployed all over the russian territory, as we can see on the monitors of GPSjam showing consistently "red" regions where serious problems with satellite navigation have been observed.

Map, data credit: GPSjam
Map, data credit: GPSjam
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