Future GPS: The USA’s GPS-III Programs
February 9/16: The final block of the USAF’s Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF satellite has been launched , finally paving the way for the start of the next generation’s long overdue GPS III. The GPS IIF-12 satellite will join dozens of other satellites launched over the last 27 years as part of the GPS Block II program. News of the launch follows days after Lockheed Martin was awarded a $94 million contract modification, providing contingency operations for GPS III satellites, ahead of the USAF’s Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX) program being put in place. With no announced schedule to have GPS III satellites launched in the near future, air force officials have said the GPS IIF-12 is expected to bridge gaps and improve on existing capabilities. Back in December , Air Force Space Commander Gen. John Hyten called the OCX program “a disaster” after reports of cyber-security concerns, ballooning costs and constant delays.
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.
GPS: The Existing Array
The GPS III Program
OCX & MGUE: New Ground Control & Receivers
GPS-III: Contracts and Key Events
FY 2014 – 2016
FY 2012 – 2013
FY 2010 – 2011
FY 2004 – 2009
GPS-III Program Background
Other GNSS Systems – and Alternatives
News and Views
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