US Military Moving Away From GPS – Where does that leave the rest of us?

October 19, 2015

The US Secretary of Defense has announced he wants to “unplug the military from GPS.” The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) website says that “Military use of GPS has evolved from a strategic advantage… to a vulnerability.”

Taking this to heart, the US military seems to be moving out smartly.

A recent series of three recent articles, two by Rutrell Yasin and one by Barry Rosenberg, on C4isr.com highlighted these efforts:

After GPS: The future of navigation

Beyond GPS: The Navy’s plan for assured positioning, navigation and time

Army Explores the Future of Navigation

In a more dramatic gesture, the US Naval Academy has started teaching celestial navigation again after a 20 year hiatus.

At the same time, there seems to be a real uptick in concern among civilian navigation and timing technologists about GPS vulnerabilities, that so many things depend upon it, and there are so few affordable and adequate backup systems.

There was a lot of talk at the recent ION GNSS+ event in Tampa about GPS vulnerabilities and backup systems. Both New York University, and The Association of Old Crows have recently sponsored on-line events addressing the problem. A link to a recording of the Old Crows’ event can be found here.

The upcoming ITFS annual event and this week’s IAIN’s quadrennial Word Congress both have significant time devoted time to problems with jamming and spoofing.

But 99% of GPS users are not in the military. Nor are they navigation or timing technologists. Few of them are aware of how critically dependent they are on GPS, and that the guardians of the system are rapidly finding ways to do without it if they must.

Perhaps it’s time for the 99% to take note and start asking some questions.