NATO denies responsibility for planes disappearing from radar

19 June 2014

NATO said on Sunday it was not to blame for recent incidents in which dozens of aircraft temporarily vanished from air traffic control radar screens in Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, reported Reuters.

  eTurboNews, a global tourism website, said about 50 planes briefly disappeared from the radars.
 
According to the Slovak Air Traffic Services the brief disappearance of planes from radar screens on June 5 and 10 was connected to a military exercise whose goal was "the interruption of radio communication frequencies". While the Slovak air traffic controllers did not identify the military force organising the exercise, Austrian media claimed it was NATO.
 
In response to a request for comment, NATO said it did carry out some training that involved "localised and low-power jamming" in the skies over Hungary on June 2-6 and that it was conducting similar training in southern Italy from June 9-20. However, it said no jamming was conducted on June 5.
 
"Our assessment is that NATO did not cause any interference with civilian air traffic control frequencies. When NATO conducts such exercises, we coordinate our activities with relevant civilian authorities and only use frequencies provided to us by the host nation," a NATO military officer said.
 
Hungary's defence ministry also denied any NATO involvement, saying the technology used was weak and well below the altitude of the aircraft.
 
Investigations are being carried out by the European air navigation safety organisation EUROCONTROL and the European Air Safety Agency.  With NATO activities ruled out, another theory is that the air traffic controls may have been hacked.
 
"We will cooperate with these authorities in order to be absolutely sure that there is no connection between our exercises and the frequency interference issues that have been reported," the NATO officer said.