Over-the-Air Testing: Advancing PNT Resilience

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The Importance of Jamming

Ensuring the resiliency of positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) systems has never been more critical. The number and frequency of threats – to both civil and defense operations – is at an all-time high, and ignoring this threat is no longer an option.

To help safeguard critical infrastructure, transportation systems, and military operations reliant on accurate PNT data, the Norwegian Communications Authority (NKOM) established an annual event called Jammertest in Bleik, Norway.

Jammertest served as a collaborative laboratory where various companies, predominantly researchers and engineers, assessed their timing/navigation systems and collected real transmission data. It also serves as a platform for experts to discuss advancements in PNT technology and countermeasures against signal jamming and interference. Participants engage in informative sessions, share research, and showcase innovative solutions.

Photo: David Jensen @jensenmedia

By addressing the evolving challenges of signal jamming, Jammertest bolsters PNT resilience and ensures the uninterrupted functioning of essential services, making it an indispensable gathering for the PNT community.

And uniquely, it is held 100% outdoors.

Out in the Open

Testing jamming and interference in an open-air environment is vital for several reasons.

  • Real-world conditions, like terrain and atmospheric factors, can significantly affect the performance of PNT systems.
  • Open-air testing allows for more accurate assessment of system vulnerabilities, providing insights that lab testing may overlook.
  • It also helps researchers and engineers validate IDM solutions and the effectiveness of countermeasures in order to develop robust, reliable PNT solutions that can withstand diverse environmental challenges.
Photo: David Jensen @jensenmedia

By replicating genuine interference scenarios, open-air testing ensures the PNT community creates resilient technology that can excel in the face of unpredictable, dynamic conditions.

The Jammertest Plan for 2023

The official test plan for Jammertest 2023 comprised test cases and their technical details. Attendees received predefined test cases with objectives, setup suggestions, and information about the RF environment. The plan used a unique numbering system to identify test groups, preconditions, and individual tests. Three separate test locations were used over five days to transmit:

  • High-power stationary jamming
  • Meaconing
  • Stationary spoofing (position, navigation, and timing)
  • Multi-jammer scenarios
  • Motorcade + low-power jammers
  • Mobile spoofing
  • Coherent and incoherent spoofing
  • Jamming attacks on ships
SAFRAN Image Norway Jamming Map

The event had three testing locations, including a base camp, where high-power jammers and sophisticated spoofing attacks were conducted. Participants had the freedom to conduct experiments both within and outside the base camp, with some even conducting flight tests using drones.

How it Went

Jammertest 2023 marked Safran’s inaugural participation in this over-the-air jamming and spoofing tests event, and Skydel software, operated by the Norwegian Metrology service, played a pivotal role.

The organization was led by Norwegian public institutions, with the Skydel software used for spoofing scenarios. The event’s primary focus was to generate over-the-air jamming/spoofing GNSS signals and attendees were tasked with data recording and analysis.

Safran was also on hand to help customers and Skydel users, test IDM solutions, as well as record signals for future analysis.

The event provided a unique opportunity for technical discussions and sharing of experiments and results. For Safran, Jammertest 2023 was significant as Skydel facilitated the testing, simulation, and analysis of jamming and spoofing scenarios. Its advantage was its ability to create controlled, reproducible, and highly customizable RF (Radio Frequency) environments, enabling rigorous testing and evaluation of GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) equipment and systems.

Skydel @ Jammertest 2023

Skydel software played a crucial role at Jammertest in 2023. Here’s how Skydel was used and why it was important:

  1. Spoofing Scenario Generation: Skydel was used to generate spoofing scenarios/attacks for the event. Spoofing involves sending fake GNSS signals to deceive or mislead GNSS receivers. Skydel allowed the organizers to create various spoofing scenarios to challenge and assess the resilience of GNSS systems under different conditions.
  2. Controlled Testing: Skydel provided a controlled testing environment where precise conditions and parameters could be set and adjusted. This allowed for the systematic evaluation of GNSS receivers and their responses to different types and intensities of spoofing and jamming attacks.
  3. Realistic Testing: Skydel’s ability to simulate realistic GNSS signals was vital. It enabled the testing of GNSS equipment under conditions that closely resembled real-world scenarios, making the results more meaningful and applicable.
  4. Data Collection: Skydel facilitated the collection of data during the tests. This data included information about the spoofer’s trajectory, power levels, and other relevant parameters. This data was valuable for post-test analysis and for recreating scenarios.
  5. Scenario Validation: Researchers and engineers at the event used Skydel to validate the spoofing scenarios by comparing them with real-world data collected during the tests. This step ensured that the simulated scenarios accurately represented the test conditions.
  6. Comparison with Real-World Data: Skydel allowed for the comparison of GNSS receiver behavior during the tests with simulated scenarios. This comparison helped assess how well GNSS receivers performed under spoofing and jamming conditions, thus offering insights into their resilience and vulnerabilities.
  7. Learning and Development: Skydel’s use at the event not only allowed for testing but also contributed to knowledge sharing and the exchange of ideas among participants. The software served as a valuable tool for researchers to gain a deeper understanding of GNSS system behavior under jamming and spoofing conditions.

Looking forward to 2024

Despite the blustery weather, Jammertest 2023 was a successful event, offering a unique platform for testing over-the-air jamming and spoofing.

Safran would like to thank the all the Jammertest partners: Norwegian Communications Authority, Norwegian Public Roads Administration, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, Norwegian Metrology Service, and the Norwegian Space Agency for organizing this unique and rewarding event that benefits the entire PNT community.

Skydel played an important role as it provided the means to create, execute, and analyze complex jamming and spoofing scenarios. It allowed organizers to generate a controlled and realistic testing environment, enabling precise evaluation of GNSS equipment and systems and facilitating knowledge exchange among industry professionals.

Jammertest 2023 showcased the importance of using sophisticated simulation tools for rigorous testing and development in the field of GNSS technology.

Jammertest: Advancing PNT Resilience through Over-the-Air Testing

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Andre Demers
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andre Demers

Andre Demers is the Technical Product Marketing Manager for GNSS products and solutions at Safran. Andre leverages his decades of experience in the simulation software industry to craft stories and articles that resonate with the GNSS community. Previously at Autodesk, CM Labs, Ultra Electronics, and CAE, Andre’s approach to marketing technology is both user-focused and pragmatic. Based in Montreal, Canada, Andre is a full-stack marketer that has managed marketing teams, planned global events, published e-books, and produced an award-winning documentary. With Safran since August 2022, Andre holds a BA in English form Concordia University and has been certified with Pragmatic Marketing and HubSpot.