While Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) gets increasingly complicated and contested by potential adversaries, the military increasingly relies on having that information as they carry out their operations.
It is such a priority for the military that, in fact, one of the Army’s eight Cross-Functional Teams, spearheading its force modernization efforts, is dedicated to implementing new and innovative solutions to this quandary.
One step that the military is taking to provide Assured PNT – regardless of efforts to jam or spoof it – is deploying the next generation of GPS signal, M-Code. Unlike its predecessor, the Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM), M-code signal is stronger, and has a number of built-in advantages that make it more ready to face the challenges of a modern battlefield.
In order to get an update on M-Code’s current state of play and how its integration into military systems is progressing, we spoke with Mike Shepherd of Collins Aerospace, who is in the midst of preparing to discuss the subject at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting this week.
The Modern Battlespace (TMB) Editors: How does M-Code differ from legacy PNT signals?
Mike Shepherd: M-Code provides significant operational benefits for the warfighter over legacy signals. Not only does it grant increased satellite signal power, which means more real-time updates on where friendly forces are, but it also provides spoofing resistance and ten times the anti-jamming capabilities for direct GPS signal acquisition. That means that it provides better PNT, but also that it helps answer the military’s call for Assured PNT, even in contested signals environments.
TMB Editors: Why, in light of current strategic needs, is having this capability so important to the warfighter in-theater?
Shepherd: Jamming and Spoofing threats increasing worldwide, and they’re only going to become more numerous with time. In fact, there are some places that the world where legacy SAASM signals are already being affected, so it’s really crucial that we field M-Code because it will address many of those threats.
TMB Editors: How is Collins Aerospace currently supporting those efforts?
Shepherd: Our latest-generation Miniature PLGR Engine – M-Code (MPE-M) GPS receiver has a lot to offer our military partners. According to independent testing, our M-Code receivers provide best-in-class anti-jamming capabilities within the lowest power solution available, and the MPE-M (Type II form factor) specifically is ideal for replacing the MPE-S (Type II form factor) in mounted and dismounted applications.
In May, our M-Code Common GPS Module (GCM) received the Global Positioning Systems Directorate (GPS-D) security certification from the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (USAF SMC), which means that our GCM’s hardware and software meets the security specifications it needs to for military GPS users, so with these now-certified products in hand, we stand ready and willing to help the military expand its operational deployment of M-Code.
TMB Editors: Expand a little more on what this certification means. Now that your GCM has this certification, what is Collins Aerospace looking to do with it in the future?
Shepherd: The security certification achieved serves as the foundation for more than 10 M-Code products that are currently in prototype or full development status for ground, weapons, and airborne mission applications.
The same security-certified CGM, re-used on all of these products, will help expedite the integration of M-Code into more platforms in the future.
The security certification also allows Collins Aerospace’s CGM-based M-Code receivers to be eligible for export to U.S. allies through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.
TMB Editors: What are NavHub™-100 and DIGAR-100 and how do they help assure GPS capability?
Shepherd: NavHub-100 offers all the needed interfaces for an integrated navigational solution based on our modernized GPS product lines and can be upgraded throughout the life of the vehicle. It provides everything the warfighter needs to provide assured PNT in GPS-challenged and -denied environments in a small, lightweight, and rugged chassis.
DIGAR-100 comprises the best ground GPS anti-jam antenna electronics available with an integrated 7-element CRPA antenna. It supports 24 simultaneous steered beams to provide superior jamming immunity in the most severe GPS-challenged environments.
The antenna electronics are built upon field-proven GPS anti-jam weapons technology and state-of-the-art signal processing techniques.
As the premier military GPS and anti-jam provider for weapons such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), Excalibur and others, Collins now offers this superior digital beamforming anti-jam capability.
TMB Editors: Is there applicability to other service branches beyond the Army’s needs?
Shepherd: Absolutely. The threats are the same for all services and the need for Assured PNT – unfettered access to a trusted signal – is needed by all Warfighters.
Want to learn more about Collins Aerospace efforts to support Assured PNT? Learn more about its latest efforts with the U.S. Army here.