The Air Force seems to be on track to experiment with PNT satellites in geostationary orbit.

The idea for Navigation Technology Satellite 3 (NTS-3) has been around for a while and notionally scheduled for launch in 2023.

Recently the Air Force announced it would be part of its Vanguard science and technology program to quickly bring capabilities to the service. It is unclear whether or not this will merely ensure the 2023 launch takes place, or the program will be accelerated for an earlier launch.

NTS-3 will include:

  • Experimental antennas
  • Flexible and secure signals
  • Increased automation
  • Use of commercial assets
  • A new digital signal generator that can be reprogrammed on-orbit,
    enabling it to broadcast new signals
  • Digital signatures for detecting spoofing
    attacks
  • Steerable regional beams in multiple frequencies
    and signal codes
  • “Bounce-Back” capabilities for recovery from attack, solar and other disruptions

The NTS-3 effort will mark the first time in 40 years the service has launched such an effort.

The Department of Defense PNT Strategy calls for future military efforts and the results to be classified, making it unlikely that  NTS-3 experiments will benefit the majority of PNT users in the civil sector.

NTS-3 Fact Sheet from ARFL

Brad P

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