Achieving Robust and Resilient Navigation and Timing for Defense Applications

Our military capabilities rely on accurate navigation and timing, often from GPS. No known technology can widely replace GPS; maturing and fielding something new will take decades. Meanwhile, here’s how to provide navigation and timing for military needs.

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This document summarizes the results of a MITRE initiative to define a national strategy for navigation and timing. The Global Positioning System (GPS) currently provides the foundation for our nation’s navigation and timing. GPS's many attributes ensure that it will remain the foundation for decades to come. Yet reliance on GPS is excessive, especially since GPS and its uses are currently fragile, and threats continue to emerge and grow. In response, various alternative sources of position, velocity, and time (PVT) are being advocated, often without adequate assessment or planning for how they can cost-effectively meet future needs and address future threats.

A national strategy is needed to efficiently and effectively focus scarce resources, defining a consistent, long-term way ahead. This document describes such a strategy. It is founded on five integrated tenets that, when adopted and implemented, enable a transition from the current situation toward robust and resilient navigation and timing that meet future needs. Due to the absence of viable near-term alternatives for key applications, as well as what is needed to mature and field other technologies, immediate actions are needed to provide selected enhancements to GPS and other satnav infrastructure.

Improved use of GPS and other satnav systems is also needed, exploiting the massive investments that have been made in signals, satellites, and ground segments. In parallel, other sources of PVT should be adopted and added for diversification, increasing robustness and resilience. Complementary steps are needed to recognize and remove threats.

The combination of these actions, properly executed and enabled by non-materiel steps, promises to provide the U.S. and its partners with the robust and resilient navigation and timing needed for future military, applications.