Adding GNSS Resilience to Critical Systems Which are not Fighter Jets
Sure, we want to back up every GNSS-based system with a $100K Cesium clock with 1x10-14 stability, a $100K 12-element CRPA antenna with a SAASM or M-Code receiver and a high-end INS with 0.01deg accuracy. Sadly, we almost always can’t afford it.
Can’t afford it because our GNSS-based system is a $10K time server and we cannot spend 10X its value on its protection.
Can’t afford it because our GNSS-based system is a 5kg drone that can carry no more than 1kg and every extra gram shortens its mission time.
Can’t afford it because our GNSS-based system is a $100K military vehicle which we have 1,000’s of and we don’t have $100M to spare.
What do we do then? We can hope that no one will try to jam our systems. Or maybe we can accept that the systems will be down for periods of time when they are jammed. Or, we can deploy a proportional solution that makes our systems significantly more resilient, with minimal impact on the price, the mission time, and the payload.
One Ring to Rule Them All.
Like a common thread going through all different facets of our everyday life, GNSS connects the dots between almost all of our critical systems 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 security, national economic security, national 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 3 sectors are considered to be 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 accurate to less than 1 microsecond timestamping them? How can the Agriculture sector support autonomous tractors and irrigation systems without a centimetre-level accurate GNSS system guiding them? How can the Communication sector support 5G that requires all base stations 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 Whitehouse issued an executive order on strengthening national resilience through responsible use of PNT service, let’s face it, we have to take care of our own and our customers’ systems because nobody else will.
We should look at two types of attacks on our GNSS sources to be able to do that:
A nation-wide outage that could originate from a malfunction or attack from a foreign entity. This would be catastrophic but highly unlikely because this sort of sophisticated attack requires the resources of a nation state.
A localised attack that affects GNSS based systems from few 100s of meters away to a few kilometres away. This is a very easy to perform attack that could be carried out (intentionally or non-intentionally) by anyone who buys a simple jammer online for less than $100.
In this article, the latter is what we will try to solve as this is not a theoretical threat anymore. Hundreds of thousands of GPS jamming events occur every year and a recent EU task force called Strike3 proved just that by deploying sensors in 23 countries across the EU and finding over 59,000 cases of high powered GNSS jamming events.
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 this is, when the bad guys use a $100 GPS jammer they buy online to bring down a bank’s multi-million trading system. This is exactly what this is when a $100 GPS jammer is used locally near Israel’s borders disabling super high-end autonomous tractors. This is exactly what this is when a $100 GPS jammer is used to down a $50K construction drone or $100K reconnaissance drones on the border of Israel.
Asymmetric Warfare Calls for a New Approach
Traditionally, when trying to keep super-high-end, critical, military systems such as fighter jets up in the air or radars up and running, the DARPAs of the world 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 include very accurate INSs\IMUs and expensive, super-high-end atomic clocks. But, as we’ve established, for 97% of the critical GNSS-dependant applications, this is simply not relevant. Hence, a new approach is required: Proportional Defense.
While planning on adequate backup methods in case GNSS is not available (after all, even a private car drives in a tunnel from time to time), we must adopt minimal C-SWaP (Cost, Size, Weight and Power) solutions that simply toughen up our GNSS link to the world making it much more resilient to these attacks.
Such a solution is infiniDome’s GPSdome. Packaged in a tiny box or an even smaller board-level solution, the GPSdome adopts CRPA principles allowing it to attenuate a jamming signal, making any GNSS system it protects about 50 times 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 makes 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 maximal number of satellites supported
Using 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 of their traditional “ultimate defense or no defense at all” mantra, even the technological military entities are starting to adopt this approach of a Proportional Defense. Such is the case of the IDF which decided to toughen its drones in reconnaissance missions on its borders with infiniDome solutions much like a US-military entity which is working closely with infiniDome on bringing customized, proportional vehicular defense to its massive hummer fleet.