UAV Crash in Korea Linked To GPS Jamming

AIN Defense Perspective » June 1, 2012
Jamming of its GPS receiver may have contributed to the crash of a Schiebel S-100 Camcopter UAV in Korea. (Photo: Schiebel)
June 1, 2012, 2:05 PM

Jamming of GPS signals by North Korea may have contributed to the fatal crash of a Schiebel S-100 Camcopter UAV near Incheon, South Korea, on May 10. The small helicopter crashed into its ground control van, killing a Schiebel engineer and injuring the two remote pilots, both Koreans. The jamming started on April 28 and disrupted passenger flights into Seoul’s two airports, Kimpo and Incheon. South Korean government officials told local media that the jamming originated from the border town of Kaesong.

Schiebel said that an incorrect response by the operators after the Camcopter lost its GPS signal led to the crash, some minutes later. The UAV is equipped with multiple inertial measurement units (IMUs) for backup, the company noted. The recorders on board the UAV and in the ground station were burned during the crash, and could not provide any explanatory data.

The crashed UAV had been operating in South Korea since October 2008, apparently on demonstrations for government agencies. Schiebel has not identified most of its customers for the S-100. Schiebel lifted a five-day precautionary grounding of the S-100 fleet on May 15.

In an early April briefing attended by AIN, Raytheon UK claimed to be the world leader in GPS anti-jam technology. The company noted that North Korea has been jamming from land vehicles, and that unprotected platforms can be affected at ranges up to 10 miles.

Raytheon UK said it has supplied more than 7,000 jam-resistant antennas to the U.S. and some 20 other countries for aircraft, helicopters, weapons and land vehicles. These include digital versions of the technology that protects platforms over a larger area than the company’s earlier, analog system.

Under a Pentagon contract, Raytheon UK has also developed a smaller version suitable for UAVs and light helicopters.

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