Many analysts are concluding that a Request for Information (RFI) for Assured PNT (A-PNT) recently published by the Army is the next step in the administration’s process to procure an eLoran network to complement and backup the Global Positioning System (GPS).
The RFI says the service is interested in an A-PNT system that includes “pseduolites,” short for “pseudo-satellites.” Such devices provide services similar to satellites, in this case positioning, navigation and timing signals, but are ground-based. In the RFI eLoran transmitters are classified as pseudolites.
In addition to asking about transmitters, the RFI also asks about procurement of mounted and dismounted receivers and anti-jam antennae.
One of the reasons analysts see the RFI as preparing for a purchase is that it also asks for recommendations concerning acquisition strategy, whether some or all of the acquisition could or should be set aside for small business, incentives that could be offered, and lessons that have been learned from other acquisitions.
The request also says that it is part of a process “…critical to providing an effective and evolvable end-product for A-PNT operators and information consumers” (emphasis added).
In December, the Deputy Secretaries of Defense and Transportation told members of Congress that they would establish an eLoran timing system as a complement and backup system for GPS while preparing detailed requirements for a larger positioning, navigation and timing network. Their letter was the most recent policy document in a process to provide a complementary and backup capability for GPS that has been on-going since 2004.
Deployable eLoran networks are available from commercial providers. They were developed from the deployable Loran-D system used by the U.S. Air Force in the 1970s. Combined with fixed eLoran networks in the U.S. and other countries, deployable transmitting networks would give the U.S. military the ability to use the system world-wide.
The Army is the lead service within the Department of Defense for Assured PNT and has a Program Executive Office at the Proving Ground in Aberdeen, Maryland.
Responses to the RFI must be received by 1700 EST on the 13th of May.