The Federal Aviation Administration has released an advisory for expected GPS interference in several days this month, with the outages to be caused by testing to be done by the United States military.
The expected GPS outages will be on June 7, 9, 21, 23, 28 and 30, all from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Pacific time.
The testing would result to "unreliable or unavailable" GPS signals, with the duration of the tests possibly lasting the entire six-hour periods, according to the FAA.
The mysterious part of the news, however, is that there is no indication on what kind of device will the military be testing that would lead to such GPS outages in the southwestern United States.
The tests, which were announced by the FAA and not by the military, are centered near the largest installation of the United States Navy in the Mojave Desert, specifically on the 1.1-million-acre Naval Air Weapons Center in China Lake, California.
The testing will disrupt GPS signals hundreds of miles in all directions, with different types of GPS to be affected. GPS systems of aircraft flying higher than 50 feet will be affected, which is what probably prompted the FAA to send out the advisory.
The GPS disruption will reach the furthest at the higher altitudes, such as in the border of California and Oregon, which is 505 nautical miles from the center of testing and is at 40,000 feet above sea level.
The disruptions will affect the flight controls of the Embraer Phenom 300 aircraft, which is a business jet, but commercial airliners will likely not be affected, according to experts. Pilots who would encounter GPS disruptions could simply navigate around the area as if they would be escaping bad weather.
A phone call initiated by Gizmodo to Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division public affairs specialist Deidre Patin confirmed that the military was aware of the advisory that the FAA sent out. Patin, however, could not provide any more details regarding the testing, only stating that it will be "general testing" for the military's ranges.
With the FAA and the Navy both keeping their mouths shut on the experiments that will be carried out, it is difficult to ascertain what kind of testing will happen. There are GPS jammers out in the market right now that can be purchased for below $200, but it seems that the military will be testing more potent systems that are able to disrupt the GPS of unmanned and manned aircraft.
The military recently awarded SpaceX with an $82.7 million contract to launch into orbit a GPS satellite, which will meet the needs of both military and civilian users.