The FAA has announced a series of GPS interference tests that will affect aircraft flying near China Lake, California. The tests are centered near the U.S. Navy’s largest weapons station in the Mojave Desert. The proximity of the GPS interference blackout zone to the Naval station has led many people to believe the U.S. government is testing a GPS jamming device.
The FAA has warned pilots that GPS signals may be unreliable on June 7, 9, 21, 23, 28, and 30th between 9:30am and 3:30pm pacific time. The GPS disruptions should not affect people walking on the ground and will only affect aircraft above 50 feet. The disruption zone will grow wider in radius as altitude increases.The GPS blackout zone is expected to spread out hundreds of miles in all directions from the epicenter near the Naval station in China lake. It is expected to reach as far as Oregon at 40,000 feet above sea level while only stretching out to mid-way through Nevada at 50 feet above sea level. The FAA has released an image that details the “disruption zone” of the GPS interference, which can be seen below.
Business jets are being told to avoid the area completely due to fears the test will interfere with the jet’s “aircraft flight stability controls.” The government has been tight-lipped on the GPS interference. When asked about the GPS interruptions a spokesperson from the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division told Gizmodo:
“I can’t go into the details of the testing, it’s general testing for our ranges.”
At this time the details of the tests are unclear. Several theories have emerged ranging from the military testing offensive capabilities of GPS jamming devices to preparing a defensive strategy for terrorist attacks that jam GPS signals for civilian and military use.