Below is a rather interesting article to read in the spare time.
A good reasonably unbiased summary of some difficult issues.
While not having a single point of command for the overall system can be labeled (correctly) as an issue, and most likely a cause of many problems, as noted, going to a single point of command also introduces other problems, mostly political, but problems which are difficult to ignore.
While talk of modernization and enhanced capabilities are the traditional approach to selling the system, current capabilities must be maintained as well.
Given that block IIF is a bit late, why would anyone believe predictions that block III birds will be faster, better, cheaper? (I've always been taught to pick two -- and then hedge your bets.)
But the sky isn't falling -- yet. It is looking a bit gloomy out. Lifetime of some birds can be extended by shutting off (mumble mumble mumble) for a while, which they're doing. They're also keeping some old birds as hot spares, cycling them through active status to stretch out the life of the overall system. You can look at this as another aspect of that lack of unified command -- but in this case, the left hand knows that the right hand isn't likely to deliver new birds, and is planning accordingly.
I'm looking forward to reading the full report, which is only 15 pages (8 pages of fairly dense material).
But like with so many other things in past (like end of the world promised at end of 1999) it probably will not happen. But I'm sure that their advice will be: just throw bunch of money and problem will disappear. Isn't it just standard advice given on occasions like this? And it is more likely a some way to get extra funds from Congress, as DoD had it's budget reduced recently.
My original aviation GPS (Trimble) was purchased when there were only 12 GPS satellites in the sky. Worked great in the open, but wasn't to good on the ground with tree cover. I believe that the accuracy was something in the neighborhood of +/-25 ft. Today's GPS receivers can receive weaker signals and can receive twelve or more satellites at a time. Prior to the Trimble I used a portable aircraft Loran.
It's a safe bet the government won't let the GPS go down.
I find it odd that this could even be possible... with as many shuttles as we launch you think a new satellite could hitch a ride ...
Now appearing on Slashdot (a techie site), with links to more artcles, and the longer GAO report.
Longer GAO report (from April 2009):
Given the way the US relies on GPS guided munitions? Ain't gonna happen.
The military, national defense, and the list can go on as to what and who relies on this network.
And this potential decrease in reliability is coming just before a major period of solar activity that's supposed to cause problems for GPS signals (among other things).
And I don't care who the President is, we have fought two major wars from the air and continue to use gps guided cruise type munitions and bombs that are dropped from miles away. Troops on the ground are moved via GPS.
No way the Government will let the system peter out, now switch it off for civilian use, well thats for another node.
Since its use during the first Gulf crisis, GPS has been adopted by armed forces to assist in navigation, command and control and weapon targeting. Even hand- held receivers have had an effect on the tempo of operations, allowing commanders to maneuverer their forces more accurately. Reliance on the constellation is becoming absolute. Allied forces have already experienced attempts to jam GPS-guided munitions. Failure to protect the network could spell catastrophe for the conduct of operations, and so enormous efforts will be devoted towards expanding the military use of the network while improving anti-jam techniques.
The U.S. government, however, retains the right to switch off the civilian system to avoid its use by enemies.
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Last Updated 4-6-09
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