Microwave Journal

News From Washington

April 1, 1999

News From Washington

$400 M GPS Signal Enhancement Program Announced
As reported in Global Positioning and Navigation News, a new six-year, $400 M initiative has been included in President Clinton's budget to modernize the Global Positioning System (GPS) and add two new civil signals to future GPS satellites. The second civil signal will be located at 1227.60 MHz together with the current military signal and will be available for nonsafety applications. The budget supports inclusion of this signal on satellites scheduled for launch beginning in 2003. The third civil signal will be located at 1176.45 MHz within the portion of the spectrum allocated for international aeronautical radio navigation services. This signal will be included with a Boeing Block IIF (follow on) GPS satellite that is scheduled for launch in 2005.

The signals' scheduled launch dates, operational capabilities and inclusion on an adequate number of orbiting satellites will determine when they will have practical value. When combined with the current civil signal at 1575.42 MHz, the signals are expected to improve the robustness and reliability of GPS for civil users and encourage new applications for GPS, which will expand the system's worldwide market.

Air Force Awards Two Major GPS Receiver Contracts
Raytheon Co. has received an award with a potential value of $167 M from the GPS Joint Program Office, US Air Force Space and Missile Command, for the qualification and production of the Miniature Airborne Global Positioning Receiver 2000 (MAGR 2000). The initial $8.7 M contract covers the qualification and production of both RF and IF receiver configurations.

The firm fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/quantity contract provides for as many as 4000 MAGR 2000 purchases over a six-year period. Raytheon Systems Co. will operate a depot for the MAGR 2000 throughout the total 18-year contract period (until 2017). MAGR 2000 will provide precision GPS navigation for most military airborne platforms, including the B-1B, F/A-18, AH-64, AV-8B and F-117. Raytheon's effort may also include foreign military sales to Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany, France and Saudi Arabia. The work will be performed by Raytheon System Co.'s Sensors and Electronic Systems segment in El Segundo, CA.

In related news, the US Air Force's Air Logistics Command has awarded a contract to Rockwell Collins calling for 1313 Precision Lightweight GPS Receivers (PLGR). This contract has increased the total order for PLGRs by the US Department of Defense (DoD) and international customers to more than 150,000 units. (More than 100,000 units have been ordered by the DoD alone.)

The PLGR, the standard hand-held navigation system for the US Armed Forces, provides precision GPS data for navigation and supports other applications such as laser-targeting, gun-laying and antijam systems. Integration kits permit the system to operate with any vehicle or communications system. Since its introduction in 1993, a number of changes have been implemented in the PLGR, including a reduction in power requirements, an improvement in accuracy and the addition of a number of navigational features while maintaining the DoD's cost objectives. The third-generation model, PLGR-II, is approximately one-third smaller and lighter than the original version, is waterproof to a depth of 20 m (66 ft) and has demonstrated up to 16 hours of operation on eight AA batteries.

Pentagon Announces Top FY '98 Defense Contractors
As reported in Defense Daily, Lockheed Martin and Boeing have retained their positions as first- and second-ranked defense contractors in FY 1998 according to the Pentagon's most recent estimate. Lockheed Martin's $12.3 B contract total was boosted by F-22 fighter and Theater High Altitude Air Defense system awards, enabling the company to retain its first-place position for more than three years. Boeing's FY 1998 awards totaled $10.6 B.

Spurred by its role as prime contractor for the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System and Advanced Medium Range Air-to-air Missile, Raytheon rose from fifth position in FY 1997 to third in FY 1998 with awards of $5.7 B. General Dynamics remained in fourth place in FY 1998 with awards totaling $3.7 B and Northrop Grumman dropped from third to fifth with awards of $2.7 B. The remaining five ranked companies include United Technologies ($2 B), Textron ($1.8 B), Litton ($1.6 B), Newport News Shipbuilding ($1.5 B) and TRW (1.3 B).

Oceanic Data Link Commissioned into Operation
Following several months of system testing, operational shakedown and controller training, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has commissioned the Multisector Oceanic Data Link at the Oakland, CA Oceanic Air Traffic Control Center. The equipment, which was designed by Raytheon Co., provides controller-pilot data link communications to suitably equipped aircraft flying over all seven sectors of the Pacific Oceanic Airspace -- an area encompassing 18.7 million square miles.

Study Supports FAA Effort to Establish GPS as Its Sole Navigation System
An independent risk assessment of GPS conducted for the FAA and others has determined that, with some improvements, augmented GPS could become the sole navigation system installed in aircraft and provided by the FAA. The planned augmentations include the FAA-developed wide and local area augmentation systems, which use geostationary satellites and a network of ground stations to improve the accuracy, integrity and availability of GPS satellite navigation signals.

One of the primary purposes of the study was to assess the risk to the augmented GPS signal from intentional interference, jamming and unintentional interference such as heightened solar activity or certain commercial television and VHF broadcast signals. The study found that a combination of procedural and technical measures to mitigate both types of interference are achievable and must be implemented as part of the future augmented GPS system to ensure acceptable performance.

The six-month assessment was conducted by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and cosponsored by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the Air Transport Association. In response to the results of the study, FAA Administrator Jane F. Garvey advised that a significant amount of cooperative effort with the aviation community, including the DoD, will also be required.

Fourth-generation Agile Beam Radar Completes First Flight Test
Northrop Grumman's Electronic Sensors and Systems Sector has announced that the first flight of a fourth-generation active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system designed to suit a wide range of new military tactical and surveillance aircraft needs has been completed successfully. During its initial flight, the system successfully detected airborne targets of opportunity in its so-called all-aspect mode, which included both look-up and look-down scenarios.

The system features a fully populated AESA antenna, radar receiver/exciter and commercial off-the-shelf processor. In addition, the system is significantly lighter and less expensive than earlier versions.