Blog Editor’s Note: RNT Foundation President Dana A. Goward moderated the Defense Strategies Institute Assured PNT Summit at National Harbor this week. Here are his opening remarks.

Defense Strategies Institute Assured PNT Summit

Moderator Dana A. Goward

Opening Comments, 14 April 2021


Good morning!  So good to see everyone and be here on behalf of the RNT Foundation. We are a scientific and educational charity. As such we endorse no products or services but are pleased to be cooperating with DSI on this effort and appreciate the program’s commercial sponsors.  Thanks to all.

This event is closed to the media and there will be no recordings. All comments are not for attribution, the “Chatham House Rules.” We are looking for a free and open exchange of ideas from everyone.

One exception I will make is that you are free, and encouraged, to quote and attribute anything I say. All we do at the RNT Foundation is open source and publicly releasable as part of our educational efforts.

Assured PNT

  • Air Force U-2 pilots purchase Garmin watches and navigate using Glonass and BeiDou to conduct their surveillance missions because the GPS jamming is so bad.
  • Thousands of ships well offshore in the Black Sea report they are moored in the middle of inland Russian airports.
  • Hundreds of ships and fitness users in China and Iran report they are far from their true location and traveling in counterclockwise circles.
  • Civil drones lose GPS signals and crash into houses.
  • A commercial airliner nearly impacts a mountain because of GPS interference.
  • NATO Exercises in Norway and elsewhere are jammed by transmitters in the Russian homeland.
  • Criminals routinely use jamming and spoofing to steal cargo and evade police.
  • And the sun is always lurking in the background with the threat of a major event that could keep GPS signals from getting through for days, or even a Carrington event that will immediately destroy half the satellites, then others as they come into view.

Assured PNT – everybody wants it, nobody has it. At least in the U.S.

  • In 2016 Iran announced they had created a terrestrial navigation and timing system that makes them independent from space.
  • Saudi Arabia has a similar system.
  • South Korea has gone one step further modernizing their terrestrial system and integrating it in a system-of-systems approach with GNSS and maritime R-mode VDES.
  • Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States republished their radio-navigation plan last year saying they are retaining and upgrading their terrestrial Chayka system so as to not be dependent upon space-based navigation and timing. There is also an indication that Russia may have an expeditionary version of this system for its forces to take into battle.
  • China has the most resilient Assured PNT structure and plan, though. At 2019’s Stanford PNT symposium they announced their plan for “comprehensive” PNT. One involving satellites at GEO, MEO, and LEO, expanding their Loran system to cover the entire country, upgrading it to eLoran, developing WiFi and 5G based timing and navigation, and expanding research on interials and clocks. Everything we have seen since then leads us to believe they are executing this plan. China seems to believe in and be dedicated to the idea of Assured PNT.

While we talk a lot about assured PNT in the United States and the west, we have done little. And so, we have lost the global PNT conflict in all three phases of war, tactical, operational, and strategic.

Our tactical disadvantages are made clear every day, especially in the middle east and other conflict and operating areas. Just last week, for example, Russia or its proxies restarted jamming operations in eastern Ukraine as a part of the Russian troop buildup on the border. As a result, the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe has been unable to use its long-range UAVs to monitor compliance with the Minsk Protocols.

The US and the west have been hampered at the operational level of war as well. Our adversaries have shaped the battle spaces around the world with jamming and spoofing forcing us to accommodate to the conditions they have created. We should be shaping it to our advantage and making them adapt.

And we are certainly at a strategic disadvantage when our adversaries can directly or through a proxy strike a devastating blow to our homeland by interfering with GPS, while a similar action on our part would have much less effect on them.

We are dangerously behind where we need to be. This has not been lost on Congress which has mandated improvements in Assured PNT for both military and civil applications, though despite deadlines, those improvements have yet to come about.

I hope that today and tomorrow we will find out about how America is going to catchup and perhaps even regain the lead in the undeclared global PNT war.

We have a very impressive list of topics and speakers for you today and tomorrow. This is a unique opportunity for you to interact with them, so we want to encourage a free & open exchange under our Chatham House rules. Please ask questions, engage the speakers and take advantage of this opportunity.

As you listen to their presentations, you might want to think about how they are addressing the holistic approach to assured PNT that my colleagues and I at the National PNT Advisory Board have adopted – Protect, Toughen, and Augment.

Protect the satellites and signals, Toughen users and their equipment, and Augment GPS/GNSS signals with alternative PNT sources.