First GPS three satellite tv for pc on monitor for launch in 2018. However there are long-term challenges similar to software program integration into person gear.
WASHINGTON — As 2017 winds down, the GPS three constellation lastly has a string of victories for the Air Drive to have a good time. The primary satellite tv for pc is on monitor for a 2018 launch. The digital navigation payload has been fastened after earlier setbacks, and items are in manufacturing. And the ground-control software program is beginning to get well from years of schedule delays.
To prime it off, the Authorities Accountability Workplace this month gave the brand new constellation some schedule respiratory room. It projected that the present constellation of 31 GPS 2 satellites will stay operational till 2021 — two years longer than beforehand estimated. The Air Drive is on a path to begin working the GPS three constellation by June 2021 as there are seven satellites deliberate to be launched by then.
However there’s additionally dangerous information. Authorities auditors have warned that the GPS three program more and more is turning into tougher to handle due to the complexity and scope of the upgrades required to navy weapon techniques to obtain the encrypted alerts. The satellites may be up and operating by 2021 however it might take many extra years to get the bottom infrastructure and gear terminals in synch with the brand new satellites.
Issues started to get extra difficult on account of a five-year delay within the operational management system software program, generally known as OCX. To fill the hole, the Air Drive began two new applications in 2015 to change the present floor techniques so they might management GPS three satellites and supply an encrypted broadcast. In consequence, there are 5 applications below GPS modernization: the satellites, OCX, navy person gear, contingency operations and navy code (M-code) early use.
Whereas the satellite tv for pc constellation is transferring ahead on a predictable schedule, the M-code software program and the receivers wanted to accumulate that sign might take much more money and time to check and set up in main U.S. weapon techniques than the Pentagon anticipated.
The watchdog company labeled the M-code early use a “excessive danger” effort. “Further improvement is critical to make M-code work with over 700 weapon techniques that require it,” mentioned GAO analyst Christina Chaplain. The Protection Division has began the transition for some weapon techniques, “however extra stays to be executed to grasp the associated fee and schedule wanted to transition to M-code receivers.”
If the Air Drive fails to efficiently synchronize the a number of components of the GPS three techniques — a few of that are funded and managed exterior the Air Drive — the navy is liable to deploying a model new satellite tv for pc constellation years earlier than the terminals and person software program are in place.
Chaplain mentioned the transition from present GPS receiver playing cards to M-code receiver playing cards is more likely to take greater than a decade. “In consequence, DoD anticipates that battle fighters should function with a mixture of older and newer receiver playing cards.”
In December 2016, the Pentagon procurement workplace requested the navy companies, the Missile Protection Company and U.S. Particular Operations Command for particular M-code implementation plans, projected prices and schedules. That data was submitted in February 2017. They recognized 716 varieties of weapon techniques that require nearly 1,000,000 M-code receiver playing cards.
GAO estimated it’s going to price greater than $2.5 billion to combine and procure M-code receiver playing cards on solely a small variety of weapon techniques out of the a whole lot of varieties that want M-code receiver playing cards. “The complete price can be a lot bigger — probably many billions of .”
The Military and Marine Corps fleet of sunshine tactical vehicles alone will ultimately want nearly 25,000 receiver playing cards. Of the 716 varieties of weapon techniques that can want M-code receiver playing cards, solely 28 — or lower than four % — are funded by means of fiscal yr 2021.
Even of larger concern for DoD is that these estimates don’t embody funding past fiscal yr 2021 that can be wanted for additional improvement, integration, and procurement. Because of this DoD and Congress nonetheless don’t understand how a lot extra funding might be wanted for the remaining 96 % of all weapon techniques that want M-code receivers.
GPS three is one in all dozens of main protection acquisition applications which can be not centrally managed from the Pentagon and have been transitioned to the navy companies. The GAO prompt the secretary of protection ought to regulate the M-code receiver card acquisition planning, and “assign a corporation with accountability for systematically accumulating integration take a look at knowledge, classes discovered, and design options and making them out there to all applications anticipated to combine M-code receiver playing cards.”
In keeping with the Air Drive, GPS three could have thrice higher accuracy and as much as eight occasions improved anti-jamming capabilities in comparison with the present satellites. A brand new L1C civil sign will make it the primary GPS satellite tv for pc to be interoperable with different worldwide international navigation satellite tv for pc techniques like Galileo.
Satellite tv for pc producer Lockheed Martin introduced this month that the primary GPS three efficiently “talked” with the OCX system on the bottom. That is the primary of 10 satellites Lockheed will construct for the Air Drive. Raytheon is the prime contractor for OCX.
The primary GPS three satellite tv for pc was declared “out there for launch” in September, and it’s anticipated to enter orbit in March 2018.
Navigation payload producer Harris Corp. introduced final week it delivered the fourth of 10 items. It expects to ship 4 extra in 2018. Harris is below contract to Lockheed Martin. On the coronary heart of the digital navigation payload is a “mission knowledge unit” that hyperlinks atomic clocks, radiation-hardened computer systems and highly effective transmitters — enabling alerts thrice extra correct than these on present GPS satellites.