The military scrambles to understand how the recent sale of 5G spectrum could increase risk of air crashes

Jan. 7, 2021
The Pentagon has yet to determine the effect on military aircraft and has not established a formal position on the sale.

WASHINGTON – As part of a broader move to boost the 5G industry in the United States, the Federal Communications Commission on Dec. 8 began auctioning a portion of C-band electromagnetic spectrum, a move the committee’s chairman, Ajit Pai, celebrated as “a big day for American consumers and U.S. leadership in 5G.” Defense News reports. Continue reading original article

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

7 Jan. 2021 -- But, in the weeks leading up to the auction, more than a dozen commercial aviation groups warned the sale could lead to catastrophic failures with the potential for multiple fatalities.

At the core of the concerns are radar altimeters -- a critical piece of aviation technology used by military, commercial, and civil aircraft of all types — including helicopters and unmanned aerial systems — to measure the distance between an aircraft and the ground.

The aviation groups worry that 5G operations on the spectrum sold by the FCC could cause interference that would provide inaccurate readings on altimeters or cause their failure outright, in essence leaving pilots unaware of how far they are from the ground and potentially leading to crashes over the United States.

Related: Future millimeter wave 5G wireless communications offer military new applications to transform operations

Related: Military researchers approach industry for 5G technologies for future deployable simulation and training

Related: Enabling technologies for airborne electronic warfare

John Keller, chief editor
Military & Aerospace Electronics

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