Russian Officials Puzzled About US GPS Stations in Russia

MOSCOW, November 28 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian government does not have information about ground infrastructure for the United States’ GPS navigation system in Russia, a deputy prime minister said.

Dmitry Rogozin said Russian federal officials only “threw up their hands” when asked about “GPS signal calibration stations” in the country.

Rogozin ordered a report Monday into the origins and ownership of GPS ground-based equipment, to be presented by February.

His words were a reaction to the US’s reluctance to allow monitor stations for Glonass, Russia’s GPS rival, to be placed on American soil. Russia has asked the US for permission to place eight Glonass stations there. The request has elicited alarm among the CIA and some lawmakers, and the US has delayed making a decision on the issue.

The CIA and the Pentagon believe the stations would improve the accuracy of Russian ballistic missiles, the New York Times reported earlier this month.

Then-deputy head of Russia’s Federal Space Agency, Vitaly Davydov, said last year that Russia hosts 19 “GPS monitoring stations,” but did not elaborate on their nature. Nor did any Russian official specify what type of GPS ground-based equipment the report commissioned by Rogozin would cover.

GPS has 16 monitor stations throughout the world that transmit data back to satellites to improve location accuracy, but none are located in Russia.

However, Russia has hosted nine GPS-based ground stations since 1995 that transmit geodesic data back to global data centers, theoretically making it possible to improve positioning data.

But the stations do not provide real-time data and are only used to measure annual continental drift, a spokesman for the Geophysical Service of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which runs the stations, said Thursday.

Another more widespread type of GPS ground equipment is base stations, or simple receivers that improve positioning in a given area.

But base stations, which are routinely set up by local operators such as geodesic services or oil exploration expeditions, do not report back to satellites or global data networks.

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