Proportional Defense

How to Add GNSS Resilience to Critical Systems That Are Not Fighter Jets

Military operations around the world would surely like to back up every GNSS-based system with a $100,000 Cesium clock that has 1x10-14  stability, a $100,000 12-element CRPA antenna with a SAASM or M-Code receiver and a high-end INS with 0.01deg accuracy. Sadly, this is usually not a practical approach. Consider the following scenarios:

  • The GNSS-based system is a $10,000 time server that doesn’t warrant spending 10x its value to protect it.
  • The GNSS-based system is a 5kg drone that can carry no more than 1kg and every extra gram shortens its mission time.
  • The GNSS-based system is a $100,000 military vehicle in a fleet of thousands, each requiring its own GNSS resilience.

What do defense forces do then? They can hope that no one will try to jam their systems. They can accept that their systems will be down for periods of time when they are jammed. Or, they can deploy a proportional solution that makes their positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) systems significantly more resilient, with minimal impact on cost, mission time and payload.

One Ring to Rule Them All

Like a common thread going through all the different facets of our daily life, GNSS connects the dots between many of the critical systems that we depend on every day. 

According to the Department of Homeland Security, there are 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on national security, economic security, public health or safety, or any combination thereof. DHS considers 13 of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors to be critically dependent on PNT. The other three sectors are considered somewhat dependent. 

In sectors like Defense and Transportation, the dependency is obvious. But how can the Finance sector make thousands of transactions per second without a clock that is accurate to less than 1 microsecond to timestamp them? How can the Agriculture sector support autonomous tractors and irrigation systems without a centimeter-level accurate GNSS system to guide them? How can the Communication sector support a 5G network that requires all base stations to be coherent to less than 400 nanoseconds? 

Ladies and Gentlemen, What We Have Here Is …

the definition of a single point of failure. 

Despite the fact that the U.S. federal government issued an Executive Order on strengthening national resilience through responsible use of PNT services …we have an obligation to take care of our own corporate and customer systems -- because infiniDome is in a position to offer viable and proven solutions today that help create Resilient PNT. 

To accomplish this, we should look at two different types of attacks on our GNSS sources: 

  • A nationwide outage that could originate from a malfunction or attack from a foreign entity. This would be catastrophic but unlikely because this type of sophisticated attack requires the resources of a nation state. 
  • A localized attack that affects GNSS-based systems from a few hundred meters away to a few kilometers away. This is an easy-to-perform attack that could be carried out (intentionally or unintentionally) by anyone who buys a simple jammer online for under $100. 

The latter example is what we are working to solve at infiniDome because it is no longer a theoretical threat. Hundreds of thousands of GPS jamming events occur every year. A recent EU task force called Strike3 proved just that by deploying sensors in 23 countries across the EU, and found over 59,000 cases of high-powered GNSS jamming events.

Asymmetric Warfare

According to Merriam-Webster, Asymmetric Warfare is “warfare that is between opposing forces which differ greatly in military power and that typically involves the use of unconventional weapons and tactics (such as those associated with guerrilla warfare and terrorist attacks).” This is exactly what is happening when the bad guys use a $100 GPS jammer to bring down a bank’s multi-million dollar trading system, to disable super high-end autonomous tractors, to down a $50,000 construction drone, or disable $100,000 reconnaissance drones.

Asymmetric Warfare Calls for a New Approach

Traditionally, when trying to keep critical military systems like fighter jets airborne or radars up and running, the DARPAs of the world have mandated either super-high-end GNSS protection solutions like a 12-element CRPA GNSS system, or a super-high-end alternative\backup to GNSS which includes very accurate INSs\IMUs and expensive, super-high-end atomic clocks. But, as we’ve established, for 97 percent of the critical GNSS-dependant applications, this is simply not relevant. Hence, a new approach is required: Proportional Defense.

When planning for adequate GNSS backup methods (after all, even a private car drives in a tunnel from time to time), we must adopt minimal SWaP-C (Size, Weight, Power and Cost) solutions that simply toughen up our GNSS links to the world, making it much more resilient to these attacks.

Such a solution is infiniDome’s GPSdome anti-jammer. Packaged in a tiny box or an even smaller board-level solution, the GPSdome adopts CRPA principles, allowing it to attenuate a jamming signal to make any GNSS system that it protects about 50x more resilient to a jamming attack. Its main advantages are:

  • At 50g to 150g it is at least 10x lighter and smaller than any other solution
  • Drawing less than 0.8W creates little strain on any system it protects
  • It protects GPS L1 by creating a single null, attenuating any incoming jamming signal
  • Passing through GLONASS G1 and GPS L2 allows for a maximum number of satellites to be supported
  • The use of off-the-shelf GNSS antennas deployed almost anywhere allows for maximum flexibility for installation on a building roof, on a vehicle’s side-mirrors or even on a small quadcopter’s frame
  • Introducing a fixed 100ns latency allows for perfect support of timing systems
  • Working with almost ANY GNSS receiver makes it a perfect “brown-field” upgrade, allowing customers to use existing systems and infrastructure

Even the DARPAs Out There Are Coming Around

Despite their traditional “ultimate defense or no defense at all” mantra, even the technological military entities are starting to adopt this approach of Proportional Defense. Such is the case with the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces), which decided to toughen its drones in reconnaissance missions along its borders with infiniDome solutions. A US military entity is also working closely with infiniDome to bring customized, proportional vehicular defense to its massive Hummer fleet.

The total dependence of military forces on GPS requires Resilient PNT to counter GNSS interference and eliminate a single point of failure for mission success. New solutions offering Proportional Defense are giving defense agencies more options than ever to protect systems at every level from jamming and spoofing threats. GPSdome is one example of how it is possible to achieve this protection affordably and efficiently. For more information contact sales@orolia.com or request a quote.

infiniDome is an Orolia partner.

About Omer Sharar

Omer Sharar is co-founder and CEO of infiniDome. Leveraging his deep knowledge and experience in the GPS timing and synchronization world, Omer co-founded infiniDome in 2016 with a goal of protecting wireless communications of autonomous vehicles, drones, fleets and critical infrastructure from jamming and spoofing attacks.

Omer was head of the synchronization division at Focus Telecom designing GPS and atomic clocks-based solutions for customers in Israel and out of it. Before that, he was a control system architect at Utilight Solar Printing Systems, and head of SW & control R&D team at HP Scitex.

Omer holds a BSc. in Mathematics and Computer Science from the Ben Gurion University, and an MBA in International Business (the GMBA program) from the IDC Herzliya.

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