DOD to step up defense of GPS signals

The Defense Department plans to add a new set of military antijam frequencies to the next series of military Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites to protect its users in what a top DOD official called 'navwar,' or navigation warfare. New generations of precision munitions as well as U.S. att

The Defense Department plans to add a new set of military anti-jam frequencies to the next series of military Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites to protect its users in what a top DOD official called "navwar," or navigation warfare.

New generations of precision munitions as well as U.S. attack aircraft can tap into highly precise military signals broadcast by the existing GPS constellation, but the Pentagon has serious concerns about the vulnerability of those signals to jamming by enemies who view such efforts as an inexpensive way to render U.S. "smart" weapons less smart.

Mike Shaw, assistant for GPS, positioning and navigation in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, said that if the current GPS constellation of 24 satellites, which can provide DOD users with positioning information accurate within meters, has "one weakness, it is [its] anti-jam capabilities."

Two years ago the Russians introduced a low-cost GPS jammer at the Paris Air Show for sale on world markets. Shaw, speaking last week at the Coast Guard-sponsored Civil GPS Service Interface Committee meeting in Alexandria, Va., said "it would not surprise me" if potential U.S. adversaries possessed GPS jamming systems.

Shaw declined to say whether one of the adversaries DOD is worried about includes Iraq, where the United States has conducted since last December its most sustained air operations since the Vietnam War.

Navwar concerns will dictate the design of the new GPS satellites, Shaw said, with DOD designating "protection, prevention and preservation" as its top priorities.

Air Force Col. Neil McCasland, chief engineer for the DOD GPS Joint Program Office, said that he believes there are "a number of deficiencies in the military signals" on the existing GPS satellites that can be corrected in the next generation. The new satellites will incorporate technologies that "optimize [them] for high anti-jam capabilities," including "spot beams" that can be used to boost GPS signals in a specific region.

McCasland said the current GPS satellites are susceptible to jamming because of a relatively low power output, and DOD plans to provide higher power on the spot beams and install new antennas on the spacecraft to further boost power.

But, McCasland added, this will require "significant changes to the spacecraft," and DOD does not have much time to make the design changes. "In order to have constellation sustainment, we need to order [the redesigned GPS satellites] in [2000]."

DOD's efforts to test the vulnerability of the existing system could have an impact on other users of the GPS system. However, these users, including Transportation Department administrations, do not want to interfere.

DOT, which along with DOD jointly manages the DOD constellation on behalf of both civil and military users, continues to endorse DOD testing of the GPS constellation for anti-jam capabilities and does not plan to arbitrarily deny permission to conduct such tests.

The Coast Guard operates a nationwide enhanced GPS system for marine navigation that provides position information accurate to within 10 meters. Another DOT agency, the Federal Aviation Administration, plans to start operating its own enhanced GPS system next year that is designed to replace all ground-based navigation systems.

Joe Canny, DOT assistant secretary for transportation policy, said DOT does not want DOD "jamming in areas that would effect maritime or aviation safety.... We certainly don't want them testing while an airplane is on a final approach to O'Hare [Airport]." But Canny added that the DOT understands the Pentagon's need to test the vulnerabilities of the system.

"Both civil and military users have to be accommodated," Canny said, "and we can't do that by drawing lines.... DOD will have to continue to test the system, and the civil user community will have to work with that. Accommodations will have to be managed from both sides."

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.