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Updated: Aviation Intel Brief for Syria,Lebanon and surrounding FIRs


 
 

Date: 24/10/2023

Where:

  • Lebanon, Beirut

  • Syria, Aleppo, Damascus

  • FIR Amman OJAC, Cairo HECC, Tel Aviv LLLL, Nicosia LCCC


Who’s involved:

  • Israeli government, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iranian government, Russian government

Syria

The Russian military has granted Iran permission to use the Russian Khmeimim Air Base in Syria according to the The Syrian opposition organization ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’.


An Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) A310 landed from Tehran at Khmeimim Air Base on Oct 19th and one on Oct 24th. The IRGC previously used Damascus International airport (OSDI) and Aleppo International airport (OSAP) for supplying the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah. Both airports were attacked by the IDF destroying the runways on Oct 12th and Oct 22nd.


Lebanon

Hezbollah possesses rockets and long-range missiles that reach deep inside Israel, an extensive air-defense system. Hezbollah has immensely expanded and upgraded its stockpile of rockets and various weapons systems, with the support of Iran. According to the latest public estimates, Hezbollah has around 150,000 rockets and missiles, most with a range of a few dozen kilometers. Various reports, however, say a substantial number can reach targets located hundreds of kilometers from Lebanon. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Hezbollah holds a large and diverse reserve of "dumb" rocket artillery alongside ballistic, anti-air, anti-tank, and anti-ship missiles.


Hezbollah has placed a large part of its arsenal deep inside Lebanon and parts of Syria, making these and the surrounding area and air bases potential targets for the Israeli Defense forces in the event of Hezbollah and the IDF engaging in a frontal war.


This is a major threat to the current civilian airline operation at Beirut International airport (OLBA) and surrounding airports like Hamat / Wujah Al Hajar Air Base in the event of NEO Operations during a clash between Hezbollah and the IDF.


Various airlines have postponed their operation to Beirut International airport. We stress again for all western corporations travel providers in the region, seriously consider evacuating your staff and their families and advise all travel parties and provide them options for curtailing their holiday trip. Like most countries the U.S. have issued a DO NOT TRAVEL advice for Lebanon (level 4) and the authorized departure of family members of U.S. government personnel and some non-emergency personnel on a case-by-case basis.


NEO (Noncombatant Evacuation Operations) out of Lebanon are being prepared and various countries have set up bases on Cyprus to support possible evacuations. The United States and United Kingdom have also prepared for a possible evacuation by sea like in 2006.


GPS Spoofing

A story that continues with new leads.


On September 22nd ‘the New Arab’ news outlet reported Russian electronic combat devices operating in Syria and the eastern Mediterranean capable of GPS Jamming and Spoofing targeting civilian aircraft landing at Ben Gurion International airport (LLBG) and other Israeli airports.


OPSGROUP alerted on September 24 and again on the 28th of a troubling new development in enroute airspace of multiple civilian aircraft being targeted with fake GPS signals, quickly leading to complete loss of navigational capability in multiple FIR’s over a period of 7 days Most crews reporting the nav failures in the vicinity of ORER/Erbil, ORSU/Sulaimaniyah, and ORBI/Baghdad on Airway UM688 over Iraq, close to the Iranian border. In the past couple of days no new incidents have been reported in this area.


OPSGROUP reported through their Ops Alert on the 24th of October of a variety of another new GPS spoofing scenario reported by OPSGROUP member crews, all have similar circumstances, where a false or spoofed GPS position is received by the aircraft, incorrectly showing the aircraft position as being over LLBG/Tel Aviv. The reported GPS Spoofing incidents occured in the following FIR’s Amman OJAC, Cairo HECC, Tel Aviv LLLL and Nicosia LCCC.


It’s important to highlight that this is not traditional GPS jamming which is often experienced in these areas. We regularly see GPS dropping out in this area. These recent reports are GPS spoofing – and even then, not like anything we’ve seen before.


Although GPS jamming can be performed relatively easily by anyone, GPS spoofing has traditionally been the domain of military operations. GPS spoofing refers to attacks where hackers transmit signals resembling GPS data, encoded in a manner that deceives receivers into perceiving a different location. In a spoofing attack, the perpetrator aims to deceive a GPS receiver by broadcasting misleading signals disguised as legitimate ones. Additionally, it is feasible to execute a spoofing attack by transmitting authentic signals with an incorrect timestamp or signals obtained from a different location. The spoofer then manipulates these signals to lead the receiver into believing its position is elsewhere, or that it is in the right place but at the wrong time.


Previously, INS (Inertial Navigation System) and IRS (Inertial Reference System) operated as independent units. However, advancements in flight deck technology have led to a much more seamless integration. Many contemporary IRS systems now incorporate GPS data to enhance the precision of the Inertial Reference Unit (IRU) as the flight progresses. Typically, the system is engineered to switch to the most recent Dead Reckoning (DR) solution in case of a signal loss or suspected integrity issue with the GPS-calculated position. Yet, if the system fails to detect a faulty position due to sophisticated spoofing, it may inadvertently update the IRS with inaccurate data.

FMS (Flight Management System) and IRS (Inertial Reference System) are primarily engineered to handle instances of GPS signal loss, not deliberate spoofing. The avionics systems of most airliners are equipped to recognize when a significant shift or gross error occurs, as updates from ground-based sources fail to yield the correct position. This typically triggers a navigation or position warning. Nevertheless, it's important to note that in such situations, all primary navigation systems may experience temporary corruption.


What you can do against jamming and spoofing

Before the flight

  • Check enroute FIR NOTAMs for any GPS spoofing/Jamming advice

  • Perform full IRS alignment if entering known area with GPS spoofing risk

  • Be aware of typical sensor hierarchy for FMS position: GPS, then IRS, DME/DME, VOR/DME, DR.

  • Consider de-selecting GPS sensor input if possible on your aircraft

  • Review differences between GPS Jamming and GPS Spoofing.

  • Perform time check and set correct time on personal device or watch..


When you think you are being targeted;

  • Check for large increase in EPU (eg. 1-2nm to 60nm)

  • Check if the aircraft clock changes – incorrect UTC time

  • Check for incorrect FMS position

  • Monitor for large shift in GPS position displayed, ND/PFD warnings about position error

  • Listen out on 121.5 for other aircraft reporting position errors in your area


When you have confirmed that you are the target of a spoofing attack

  • Revert to heading mode

  • De-select GPS inputs as soon as possible (IRS infection is not immediate)

  • Confirm IRS integrity

  • Consider using OFP/CFP computed track between waypoints as guidance

  • Report to ATC so other aircraft are aware, and check position.

  • Remain IRS only until clear of risk area

  • Request ATC for vectors


 
Aviation Intel Brief for Syria, Lebanon and surrounding airspace 24102023
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