Conspiracy theorists and Area 51 fanatics are going to have a field day with this. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that GPS devices across a wide swathe of the West Coast could become unreliable on specific days this month. The reason? A top secret device is being tested at the Navy’s 1.1-million acre Naval Air Weapons Center in the Mojave Desert, in China Lake, California, reports Gizmodo.
The supposed GPS-interference device will apparently affect an area spanning from Oregon to northern Mexico, and possibly as far east as Colorado at high altitudes. The closer you are to the source of the disturbance in the Mojave Desert, the lower the altitude the disturbance could be encountered.
Dates when the device will be in use are listed as June 9, 21, 23, 28 and 30. If you're on the ground, you might not notice a difference, but it's something to keep in mind if your GPS is acting wonky on these days. The disturbance will mostly be felt at higher altitudes, which is why the FAA was notified. Precautions will take place on these days to ensure that air traffic is not severely disrupted, and aircraft will be advised to avoid some areas entirely. Even so, this news is sure to change the travel plans for some nervous fliers.
The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division has been predictably tight-lipped about the exact nature of the tests, though it's probably reasonable to speculate that the device has military applications, either for shutting down GPS in an area or for some sort of field test on how to defend against such attacks.
Given that China Lake is a stone's throw from the infamous Area 51, and because this device could create Bermuda Triangle-like navigational disturbances, the news is sure to rile up conspiracy theorists. UFO hunters might want to keep their eyes trained on the desert skies.
The truth is out there, though probably not where you think it is if you're tracking with GPS.