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A Russian GPS Using U.S. Soil Stirs Spy Fears

electronic monitoring

Pedro Ladeira/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images A technician from Russia’s space agency at a monitor station that opened in Brazil.

WASHINGTON — In the view of America’s spy services, the next potential threat from Russia may not come from a nefarious cyberweapon or secrets gleaned from the files of Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor now in Moscow.

Instead, this menace may come in the form of a seemingly innocuous dome-topped antenna perched atop an electronics-packed building surrounded by a security fence somewhere in the United States.

In recent months, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon have been quietly waging a campaign to stop the State Department from allowing Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, to build about half a dozen of these structures, known as monitor stations, on United States soil, several American officials said.

They fear that these structures could help Russia spy on the United States and improve the precision of Russian weaponry, the officials said. These monitor stations, the Russians contend, would significantly improve the accuracy and reliability of Moscow’s version of the Global Positioning System, the American satellite network that steers guided missiles to their targets and thirsty smartphone users to the nearest Starbucks.

“They don’t want to be reliant on the American system and believe that their systems, like GPS, will spawn other industries and applications,” said a former senior official in the State Department’s Office of Space and Advanced Technology. “They feel as though they are losing a technological edge to us in an important market. Look at everything GPS has done on things like your phone and the movement of planes and ships.”

The Russian effort is part of a larger global race by several countries — including China and European Union nations — to perfect their own global positioning systems and challenge the dominance of the American GPS.

For the State Department, permitting Russia to build the stations would help mend the Obama administration’s relationship with the government of President Vladimir V. Putin, now at a nadir because of Moscow’s granting asylum to Mr. Snowden and its backing of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

But the C.I.A. and other American spy agencies, as well as the Pentagon, suspect that the monitor stations would give the Russians a foothold on American territory that would sharpen the accuracy of Moscow’s satellite-steered weapons. The stations, they believe, could also give the Russians an opening to snoop on the United States within its borders.

The squabble is serious enough that administration officials have delayed a final decision until the Russians provide more information and until the American agencies sort out their differences, State Department and White House officials said.

Russia’s efforts have also stirred concerns on Capitol Hill, where members of the intelligence and armed services committees view Moscow’s global positioning network — known as Glonass, for Global Navigation Satellite System — with deep suspicion and are demanding answers from the administration.

“I would like to understand why the United States would be interested in enabling a GPS competitor, like Russian Glonass, when the world’s reliance on GPS is a clear advantage to the United States on multiple levels,” said Representative Mike D. Rogers, Republican of Alabama, the chairman of a House Armed Services subcommittee.

Mr. Rogers last week asked the Pentagon to provide an assessment of the proposal’s impact on national security. The request was made in a letter sent to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr.

The monitor stations have been a high priority of Mr. Putin for several years as a means to improve Glonass not only to benefit the Russian military and civilian sectors but also to compete globally with GPS.

Earlier this year, Russia positioned a station in Brazil, and agreements with Spain, Indonesia and Australia are expected soon, according to Russian news reports. The United States has stations around the world, but none in Russia.

Russian and American negotiators last met on April 25 to weigh “general requirements for possible Glonass monitoring stations in U.S. territory and the scope of planned future discussions,” said a State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, who said no final decision had been made.

Ms. Harf and other administration officials declined to provide additional information. The C.I.A. declined to comment.

The Russian government offered few details about the program. In a statement, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington, Yevgeniy Khorishko, said that the stations were deployed “only to ensure calibration and precision of signals for the Glonass system.” Mr. Khorishko referred all questions to Roscosmos, which did not respond to a request for comment last week.

Although the Cold War is long over, the Russians do not want to rely on the American GPS infrastructure because they remain suspicious of the United States’ military capabilities, security analysts say. That is why they have insisted on pressing ahead with their own system despite the high costs.

Accepting the dominance of GPS, Russians fear, would give the United States some serious strategic advantages militarily. In Russians’ worst fears, analysts said, Americans could potentially manipulate signals and send erroneous information to Russian armed forces.

Monitor stations are essential to maintaining the accuracy of a global positioning system, according to Bradford W. Parkinson, a professor emeritus of aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford University, who was the original chief architect of GPS. As a satellite’s orbit slowly diverges from its earlier prediction, these small deviations are measured by the reference stations on the ground and sent to a central control station for updating, he said. That prediction is sent to the satellite every 12 hours for subsequent broadcast to users. Having monitor stations all around the earth yields improved accuracy over having them only in one hemisphere.

Washington and Moscow have been discussing for nearly a decade how and when to cooperate on civilian satellite-based navigation signals, particularly to ensure that the systems do not interfere with each other. Indeed, many smartphones and other consumer navigation systems sold in the United States today use data from both countries’ satellites.

In May 2012, Moscow requested that the United States allow the ground-monitoring stations on American soil. American technical and diplomatic officials have met several times to discuss the issue and have asked Russian officials for more information, said Ms. Harf, the State Department spokeswoman.

In the meantime, C.I.A. analysts reviewed the proposal and concluded in a classified report this fall that allowing the Russian monitor stations here would raise counterintelligence and other security issues.

The State Department does not think that is a strong argument, said an administration official. “It doesn’t see them as a threat.”

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David M. Herszenhorn and Andrew E. Kramer contributed reporting from Moscow. Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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Source: www.abc.net

Your one stop for gps tracking needs, contact an experienced GPS Monitoring Specialist to assist you with any GPS situation.

GPS INDUSTRY REMINDS CAPITOL HILL WHY GPS MODERNIZATION PROGRAMS ARE CRUCIAL

Could we live without GPS on a daily basis? Probably not. It has become a staple in our daily lives, whether we are traveling with our families or for business, keeping track of our property, or even assuring our food arrives safely and fresh to the grocery store. The big names in the GPS industry know that people love GPS for a host of reasons, but are aware that at some point, Congress may decide to slash key programs for GPS modernization.

 

To address this concern,Lockheed Martin, ITT Exelis, Raytheon, Honeywell, and General Dynamics – all big names in the GPS industry – hosted Global Positioning System Modernization Day on the Hill on May 31 at the Rayburn House Office Building Foyer. GPS suppliers, like all defense contractors, are concerned the state of our economy may bring about budget cuts, especially to the new GPS III program. “Across the board, every program is being scrutinized,” according to Michael Friedman, spokesman for Lockheed Martin. He said this event is “an opportunity to show the importance of GPS and the great progress that we’re making.”

 

As we’ve reported in the past, Lockheed was named the contractor and manufacturer of GPS III satellites back in 2008. The first two of the 32 proposed satellites will be launched in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The goal is to replace each and every satellite in the current constellation with new GPS III satellites. Those in the GPS industry say it isn’t just replacing the old satellites because they are aging, but also because these new GPS III satellites are far more secure, protecting against jamming.

 

Friedman states that interference is increasingly becoming a problem with the current GPS II satellites, especially seeing as jamming devices are cheap and easy to procure. As an example, a Newark, NJ trucker was recently caught using one of these jamming devices so his employer could not pinpoint his location. Consequently, the use of this device led to the crash of the GPS landing system at Newark International Airport. These GPS jammers scramble or block signals from the GPS satellites, and a GPS spoofer deceives GPS receivers. The new GPS III satellites, according to those in the GPS industry, are much harder to mess with.

 

Raytheon spokesman Jared B. Adams agrees that the GPS constellation “is an expensive program but also a very worthwhile program for military and commercial interests. We want to harden assets so spoofing and jamming don’t take place in the future.” Raytheon was awarded the GPS III ground control equipment contract in 2010, worth about $2.5 billion.

Author: Khristen Foss

Source: www.rmtracking.com

Your one stop for gps monitoring needs, contact an experienced GPS Monitoring Specialist to assist you with any GPS situtation.

Keeping Track of What Matters with GPS

With changes in the pricing policies of steamship lines in the United States, trading companies have had to reevaluate the costs of the chassis needed to transport shipping containers. Once included in the cost of shipping, chassis now have to be leased separately through the shipping line or purchased outright. Frontier Logistics in Houston, Texas, chose to obtain its own chassis. The question became how to keep track of them once the containers left port, and the obvious answer became GPS tracking.

When Frontier Logistics decided not to lease chassis for its shipping containers, it chose to implement global positioning system technology to protect its investment. Because chassis are expensive, not to mention almost identical to those leased, Frontier Logistics wanted to be sure it could keep track of its assets. They also wanted a long battery life and a GPS device that could withstand the harsh weather conditions often experienced on the open seas since most tracking units are placed on the outside of a container or chassis. They chose Tracking What Matters, noting, “If we lose and recover just one of these chassis, the technology will easily pay for itself.”

Tracking What Matters is a GPS-based services company located in Texas that specializes in customized tracking solutions for businesses. They combine the latest GPS technology with web-based software that provides companies with 24/7 tracking using Google Maps. Their battery options range from 2 to 7 years, and they even provide Geofence options for companies that want to safeguard their goods within a certain location. Tracking What Matters covers business fleets, shipping containers, trailers, and equipment along with general assets. Used by many Fortune 500 companies, Tracking What Matters helps businesses increase their bottom line by reducing wasteful spending and increasing productivity through better time management and fuel efficiency.

With services available in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, Tracking What Matters offers a wide range of GPS tracking solutions to businesses worldwide. From a single box to a shipload of containers, companies can track their assets to a precise location, whether they are mistakenly shipped to another country or simply overlooked in the back of a warehouse. Companies can also better strategize in all aspects of operations. GPS technology goes well beyond the simple navigation tool it was first known for.

Climbing Mt. Everest with GPS

The height of Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, is under heated debate. Though standing more than 200 m above the next tallest rival, China and Nepal have been arguing the exact height of Everest for many years. Now, Nepal is seeking the expertise of scientists and GPS technology to settle the question once and for all.

Krishna Raj, the director-general of the Himalayan Survey Department, reports that they have measured from sea level to base camp, but from base camp to the top remains unmeasured by accurate and scientific means. Therefore, Nepal has appealed to the international community for the funding and technologically advanced equipment needed to obtain a measurement that is globally accepted as the definitive height of this prestigious peak.

The first published height of Mt. Everest was in 1856 by the Great Trigonometric Survey of British India. Using the science of math, the peak was calculated to be 8840 m above sea level. Today’s accepted height is not far from that figure; India’s 1954 survey of 8848 m above sea level is still Nepal’s claim to fame. However, in 2005 a Chinese survey put the height at 8844.43 m. The Chinese claim that their figure is far more accurate since they used modern technology and took the measurement to the tip of the actual rock surface rather than include the ice cap and snow. Interestingly, China did measure the ice cap and snow, though fluctuant, to be at 3.5 m, the difference between the two countries’ disputed claims.

Raj believes that Sherpas trained in the science of GPS technology could settle the debate, though he warns that the equipment would need to withstand temperatures of -70 degrees Celsius. In 1999, the United States did complete a survey of Everest using the scientific data collected from a global positioning system. Their measurement was 8850 m above sea level; another discrepancy. However, this can be accounted for by the newness of the technology and the lack of knowledge of Mt. Everest and its surroundings, which is why Nepal hopes to draw on the advances of scientists around the world to get to the bottom of all this, or rather the top of it.

Although it may take two years to determine a final measurement based on GPS data, Nepal is hopeful that the findings will put an end to the dispute with China.

Climbing Mt. Everest with GPS

The height of Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, is under heated debate. Though standing more than 200 m above the next tallest rival, China and Nepal have been arguing the exact height of Everest for many years. Now, Nepal is seeking the expertise of scientists and GPS technology to settle the question once and for all.

Krishna Raj, the director-general of the Himalayan Survey Department, reports that they have measured from sea level to base camp, but from base camp to the top remains unmeasured by accurate and scientific means. Therefore, Nepal has appealed to the international community for the funding and technologically advanced equipment needed to obtain a measurement that is globally accepted as the definitive height of this prestigious peak.

The first published height of Mt. Everest was in 1856 by the Great Trigonometric Survey of British India. Using the science of math, the peak was calculated to be 8840 m above sea level. Today’s accepted height is not far from that figure; India’s 1954 survey of 8848 m above sea level is still Nepal’s claim to fame. However, in 2005 a Chinese survey put the height at 8844.43 m. The Chinese claim that their figure is far more accurate since they used modern technology and took the measurement to the tip of the actual rock surface rather than include the ice cap and snow. Interestingly, China did measure the ice cap and snow, though fluctuant, to be at 3.5 m, the difference between the two countries’ disputed claims.

Raj believes that Sherpas trained in the science of GPS technology could settle the debate, though he warns that the equipment would need to withstand temperatures of -70 degrees Celsius. In 1999, the United States did complete a survey of Everest using the scientific data collected from a global positioning system. Their measurement was 8850 m above sea level; another discrepancy. However, this can be accounted for by the newness of the technology and the lack of knowledge of Mt. Everest and its surroundings, which is why Nepal hopes to draw on the advances of scientists around the world to get to the bottom of all this, or rather the top of it.

Although it may take two years to determine a final measurement based on GPS data, Nepal is hopeful that the findings will put an end to the dispute with China.

GPS Technology: 40 Years of Innovation

There is no doubting the impact GPS technology has had on our modern society. To many citizens, GPS may seem relatively new, showing up in high-tech vehicles a few years ago. However, the technology has been making huge waves in the scientific and military industries for years. The technology was originally developed by the U.S. military services and Defense Mapping Agency for the purposes of creating a space-based navigational system with unmatched accuracy. The program was called a Global Positioning System (GPS), and in 1973, when it first began, there was no way to foresee all the various uses available today.

Years before most lay people even heard of GPS technology, it received significant attention from the scientific community. In 1998, GPS was one of two technologies inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame, as displayed on the Space Foundation’s website: spacetechhalloffame.org. Although the technology is used worldwide, the entire 24-satellite constellation is managed by the NAVSTAR GPS Joint Program Office at the Space and Missile Systems Center near Los Angeles.

One of the aspects of GPS technology that makes it so unique, is the incredibly diverse functions. The program was originally designed for military use, but as it developed over almost 40 years, many new possibilities were discovered. Now, the  Global Positioning System is considered a dual use technology for military and civil consumption. While the U.S. Air Force Space Command, the Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation ultimately control and maintain the satellite system, more and more commercial uses for the technology are being developed for everyday use.

GPS technology was first introduced to the public on a massive scale with navigational systems, attached to or built-in to their vehicles. Now, just about any smartphone comes equipped with GPS, which caused a boom of mobile applications designed with the GPS capabilities in mind. WIth such versatile technology, there is no end in sight for new innovations.