'MoD budget cuts' led to Russian 'GPS jamming' on Grant Shapps' RAF plane

An RAF plane carrying Defence Secretary Grant Shapps had its GPS signal jammed while flying near Russian territory, ITV News Political Correspondent Harry Horton reports

A Royal Air Force (RAF) plane which "experienced GPS jamming" as it was transporting Defence Secretary was susceptible to interference because the British military had cut funding for its protective systems, ITV News understands.

Downing Street confirmed that the RAF plane carrying Grant Shapps earlier this week had its signal interfered with for around 30 minutes while flying near the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad - a territory sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.

The aircraft was left vulnerable to such an attack after the government chose not to give new VIP jets protective systems, such as jam-proof communications, to save hundreds of millions of pounds - a decision made under Mr Shapps' predecessor, Ben Wallace.

Representatives for the defence secretary confirmed to ITV News that the government has recently decided to reverse that decision, issuing a tender notice to provide the jets with the requisite upgrades.

A Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson said: "As announced in 2022, the Envoy aircraft are being upgraded to full military and operational capability.

"It's not unusual for aircraft to experience GPS jamming near Kaliningrad and at no time was the safety of the aircraft threatened."

Mr Wallace defended the decision on Friday, telling The Times he could not justify "taking millions away from military programs to spend on a vanity project."

He said: "The planes are never going to fly to hostile areas and if ministers need to then they switch to military lift.

"There are many more military platforms that need protection than a VIP jet. This is completely the wrong priority."

Former defence secretary Ben Wallace. Credit: PA

The plane carrying Mr Shapps encountered signal issues as it passed near Kaliningrad on its return flight from Poland to the UK.

At no point was the aircraft in danger during the incident, Downing Street said, as other navigation systems were available to the pilots.

Mr Shapps was accompanied by several journalists and staff on the return flight from Poland, where he had been discussing support for Ukraine with his ministerial counterpart Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz.

His overseas visit also saw him visit British troops involved in the largest Nato military exercise to take place since the end of the Cold War.

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