The North Koreans are at again with their GPS jammers:
Jamming signals thought to be from North Korea have affected GPS navigation on at least 250 flights, South Korean officials say.
Nine South Korean and nine foreign airlines have been affected since Saturday, the Transport Ministry said.
The flights had to rely on alternative navigation systems but were in no danger, the ministry added.
The South has accused the North – with which it remains technically at war – of similar incidents in the past.
“We’ve confirmed the GPS [global positioning system] jamming signals have been stemming from the North,” Lee Kyung-woo, deputy director at Seoul’s Korea Communications Commission, was quoted by Agence-France Presse news agency as saying.
The transport ministry has not set out who was to blame. But director Kim Choon-oh told the agency the GPS disruption was noticeable at Incheon international airport.
He said there was “no serious threat to the safety of flights because planes are using other navigation devices”.
South Korea has accused Pyongyang of jamming before, in August 2010 and March 2011. [BBC]
This is nothing new with reports about the North Korean GPS jammers going back to 2008 and them using them to cause trouble as recently as this past September. The North Koreans are probably just looking for a simple way to make some headlines while at the same time marketing their GPS jamming technology that they have reportedly been interested in trying to export in the past.
I am really not concerned about the GPS jammers posing a safety threat to aircraft landing at Incheon International Airport, but something I have been concerned about is possibly North Korea launching some kind of provocation against the airport in order to disrupt airline traffic into Korea thus damaging the South’s economy. The most extreme provocation would be them attempting to shoot down an airliner with the excuse that it flew over their airspace near the disputed West Sea border. However, imagine what would happen if they launched an artillery attack against the airport?
Google Earth measurements show that the airport is roughly about 38 kilometers which makes it a long shot for conventional artillery but well within the range of the rocket artillery that North Korea has. Even if such an attack did little damage and didn’t even kill anyone it would probably be many weeks before the airlines get air traffic back to normal at Incheon. I doubt the North Koreans would do something as provocative as this without manufacturing an excuse why they did it. So such a provocation would likely only happen after some kind of border incident that they created and then can use to say they launched the airport attack in response to some sort of aggression from South Korea.
I would think that something as strategically important as Incheon International Airport being attacked that South Korea would have no choice but to respond strongly against the provocation with some kind of limited military response. So what does everyone else think, should the ROK be concerned about a North Korean provocation directed towards the airport? If so how should they respond?