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Blog Editor’s Note: We have espoused similar opinions often. It is good to see others taking up the call.

The author advocates for establishment of an eLoran system. The National PNT Advisory Board has recommended this multiple times, and the US government has twice announced it would do so. 

We understand that there are some in the federal bureaucracy who are opposed to eLoran, though they have never shown any faults with the multi-agency studies that resulted in the two announcements. They may be embarrassed that their failure to support the President’s 2004 directive to backup GPS, and forcing Loran to be disestablished in this country, has made us far more vulnerable to PNT disruptions than China and Russia.  Denial and fear that you have made a terrible mistake can often be more powerful than reason in forming peoples’ opinions and directing their actions. 

Others have suggested that the huge costs of space programs, like GPS III, have caused opposition to a terrestrial backup system among powerful interests in industry and government. Suggesting space-based assets are not the be-all and end-all threatens their rice bowl. 

 

Opinion

Deploying a backup to GPS will protect the US and spur innovation

The Global Positioning System underpins almost every aspect of modern life. This invisible utility, beamed to us by a constellation of 32 satellites zipping around Earth 12,550 miles overhead, does much more than give us directions to the nearest pizza place. GPS also allows sectors like transportation, telecoms, emergency services, finance and more to function with breathtaking speed and efficiency.

But this space-age marvel has a low-tech Achilles’ heel that makes it vulnerable to natural and human-directed disruptions that could cripple key industries and businesses, threaten lives, and cost billions of dollars. The signal from a GPS satellite is unimaginably faint. Detecting it is like being in New York and seeing a 50-watt lightbulb in Perth, Australia. That makes GPS susceptible to many kinds of interference, including tall buildings, solar activity and use of adjacent electromagnetic spectrums, as has been proposed under the rollout of 5G telecommunications services.

GPS can also be easily jammed and spoofed. Such incidents are dramatically on the rise in recent years and are sometimes carried out by our geopolitical rivals. For instance, Russian and Chinese forces have disrupted U.S. military and commercial tanker operations in the Black Sea, South China Sea and elsewhere. What’s more, on July 23, U.S. Space Command revealed that it has evidence that Russia conducted a test of a new anti-satellite weapon. Should satellites be damaged or degraded, recovery would involve building and launching new ones — you can’t just walk up to them and make repairs.

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Brad P

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