Latest updates[?]: Raytheon announced that the US Air Force used the company’s GPS Next-Generation Operational Control System, known as GPS OCX, to support the launch of its second GPS III satellite into space. The ground system will spend 10 days maneuvering the satellite into its final orbit, demonstrating GPS OCX's ability to simultaneously support multiple GPS III spacecraft on-orbit throughout the checkout and calibration process. GPS III SV02 is the newest generation of GPS satellites designed and built to deliver positioning, navigation and timing information apparently with three times better accuracy, and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capability than its predecessor. Prime contractor is Lockheed Martin. The GPS III satellite, also called Magellan, was launched on August 22 after years of delays. United Launch Alliance used a Delta IV rocket to launch the second Global Positioning System III (GPS III) satellite for the US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.
GPS IIIA concept
GPS-III satellites, in conjunction with their companion OCX ground control, system are the Global Positioning System (GPS) future. They offer big advantages over existing GPS-II satellites and GCS, but most of all, they have to work. Disruption or decay of the critical capabilities provided by the USA’s Navstar satellites would cripple both the US military, and many aspects of the global economy.
The time-based GPS service is the most-used application of Einstein’s Theories of Relativity. GPS has become part of civilian life in ways that go go far beyond those handy driving maps, including crop planting, timing services for stock trades, and a key role in credit card processing. At the same time, military class (M-code) GPS guidance can now be found in everything from cruise missiles and various precision-guided bombs, to battlefield rockets and even artillery shells. Combat search and rescue radios rely on this line of communication, and so does a broadening array of individual soldier equipment.
This DII FOCUS article looks at the existing constellation, GPS-III improvements, the program’s structure, its progress through contracts and key milestones, and extensive PTN (Positioning, Timing & Navigation)/ GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) research links.
In January 2001, a commission headed by then US Defense Secretary-designate Donald Rumsfeld warned about a possible “space Pearl Harbor” in which a potential enemy would launch a surprise attack against US-based military space assets, disabling them. These assets include communications satellites and the GPS system, which is crucial for precision attack missiles and a host of military systems.
“The US is more dependent on space than any other nation. Yet the threat to the US and its allies in and from space does not command the attention it merits,” the commission warned.
One of the systems that grew out of the commission’s report was the Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) project, which is developing a constellation of satellites to provide the US military with space situational awareness using visible sensors. After a slow start, SBSS Block 10 reached a significant milestone in August 2012 with its Initial Operational Capability, followed by full operational capability less than a year later. But lack of funding casts as shadow on whether this capability will be maintained beyond 2017. By 2014/15 the Air Force worked on a stopgap project as well as an effort to obtain proper funding for follow on satellites to be launched at the start of next decade.
The Egyptian government wants to buy another 24 F-16C/D Block 50/52 aircraft, associated parts, weapons, and equipment to modernize its air force. The October 2009 request, made through the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) to Congress, could be worth as much as $3.2 billion to Lockheed Martin and the other contractors involved. The formal request came a few months after the Obama administration conveyed its support for Egypt’s long-standing request to buy the Block 50/52 aircraft, but the request has been a long-standing source of controversy. Eventually, events in Egypt stalled the contract.
The Egyptian Air Force is the 4th largest F-16 operator in the world, mustering about 195 F-16s of 220 ordered. Their overall fighter fleet is a mix of high-end F-16s and Mirage 2000s, low-end Chinese F-7s (MiG-21 copy) bought from the Chinese, a few F-4 Phantom II jets, and upgraded but very aged Soviet MiG-21s and French Mirage 5s.
The USA’s Global Positioning System service remains free, but the European Union is spending billions to create an alternative under their own control. In addition to civilian GPS (the Open Service), services to be offered include a Safety of Life Service (SoL) for civil aviation and search and rescue, a paid Commercial Service with accuracy greater than 1 meter, plus a Public Regulated Service (PRS) for use by security authorities and governments. PRS/SoL aims to offer Open Service quality, with added robustness against jamming and the reliable detection of problems within 10 seconds.
Organizational issues and shortfalls in expected progress pushed the “Galileo” project back from its originally intended operational date of 2007 to 2014/15. After a public-private partnership model failed, the EU gained initial-stage approval for its plan to finance the program with tax dollars instead of the expected private investments. Political issues were overcome in 2007 by raiding other EU accounts for the billions required, but by 2011, it became clear that requests for billions more in public funds were on the way. Meanwhile, doubts persist in several quarters about Galileo’s touted economic model. Security concerns regarding China’s early involvement, and its potential Beidou-2/Compass projects, have been equally persistent, and there is good reason to expect that the constellation has a military purpose. On a European political and contractual level, however, Galileo is now irreversible.
This article offers background, players, developments, contracts, and in-depth research links for Galileo, as well as linked EU programs like GIOVE and EGNOS.
Out in the field, one of the most important questions is also one of the simplest: where am I? Map-reading and orienteering remain critical soldiering skills, but the explosive growth of the GPS receiver market offers modern-day soldiers – and their opponents – new options. GPS has a military channel as well, of course, offering greater precision. These military-grade GPS receivers are becoming common among American units and their allies, often operating alongside civilian units from firms like Garmin that can include in-country roadmaps for front-line zones. Then again, you probably wouldn’t want to offer nearby airstrike coordinates based on a civilian unit if there was any choice in the matter.
Defense Advanced GPS Receivers (DAGRs) will serve as a smaller, lighter, replacement for the Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver (PLGR). Their electronics can be integrated into tanks, UAV drones, etc., or serve as standalone handheld systems for both advanced and basic military GPS users. Authorized Department of Defense (DoD) and foreign military sales (FMS) customers receive a hand-held Precise Positioning System (PPS) with a dual-frequency (L1/L2) receiver that weighs less than a pound, and incorporates the next generation, tamper-resistant GPS “SAASM” (Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module) anti-jamming and security module.
A couple of years ago, it looked like the Land Warrior program was dead due to soldiers’ concerns that the equipment was too heavy and complex. However, after trimming down the system from 17 pounds to 7.2 pounds, the Army is moving ahead with the program.
While those efforts are underway, the US Army still owns more than 900 Land Warrior ensembles, 300 vehicle-integration kits, and related equipment as of October 2009. Now, a new set of contracts enables General Dynamics’ field service engineers to deploy with all Land Warrior-equipped units and provide support for housing, repairing and shipping spare and replacement Land Warrior gear worldwide.
Northrop Grumman’s Sperry Marine business unit in Charlottesville, VA received a $10.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N65540-06-D-0009) for engineering and technical services and equipment in support of Sperry Marine-manufactured integrated bridge systems and steering/ ship control systems installed on US Navy vessels and at land-based test facilities.
The work will involve analysis, repair, alteration, maintenance, and production improvement on existing integrated bridge systems and steering/ ship control systems…
Harris Technical Services in Colorado Springs, CO received a $10 million contract modification for operations, maintenance, and logistics support to the US Air Force Space Command’s 50th Space Wing. At this time the entire amount has been obligated. 50 CONS/LGCZW at Schriever Air Force Base in California manages the contract (FA2550-08-C-8011, P00032).
The 50th Space Wing is responsible for the operations and support of more than 170 US military satellites…
BAE Systems National Security Solutions in Burlington, MA received a $7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide support to the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Urban Reasoning and Geospatial Exploitation Technology (URGENT) Phase II Program. The purpose of the URGENT program is to improve the quality and timeliness of geospatial intelligence about threats in urban environments to assist US troops in conducting urban warfare.
BAE will perform the work in Burlington, MA (93%) and Los Angeles, CA (7%) with an estimated completion date of May 15/11. Bids were solicited on the Web with 1 bid received by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, VA (HR0011-09-C-0101).
Under the contract, BAE is developing a design concept that promises to speed the collection and processing of geospatial data about urban environments and deliver them to US troops on the ground for mission planning, navigation, and targeting. BAE will do this by fusing different intel systems…
Wyle Information Systems in McLean, VA received a $13.9 million indefinite delivery/ indefinite quantity contract modification to provide technical services and space operations support to the Space Innovation and Development Center located at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado.
The contract is directed toward examining, assessing, and developing the means to integrate national system and US DoD space systems support to enhance combat and research and development capabilities within the US Air Force. This includes integrating existing and advanced-technology weapons, platforms and special test facilities as well as the technical expertise such as knowledge of emerging space-based technologies and systems.
Space Innovation and Development Center at Schriever Air Force Base manages the contract (FA2550-01-D-0003, P00026). The center’s mission is to advance warfare through rapid innovation, integration, training testing, and experimentation…