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Editorial Advisory Board Q&A: The fate of the SAASM P(Y) code

October 28, 2021  - By

Photo: Editorial Advisory Board

The U.S. military is transitioning to M-code. When the transition is complete, what will become of the SAASM P(Y) code? What should be done with it? Should the U.S. government use it as a public authenticated service?


Jules McNeff

Jules McNeff

“In my opinion (not speaking on behalf of the Defense Department), eventual use of the P(Y) code as a public authenticated service is not feasible based on both time and accessibility. Even with the transition to M-code, the legacy P(Y) code will continue to be used by the U.S. military and by U.S. allies and partner nations as long as there are military requirements for it. More importantly, public access to the encrypted P(Y) code would require general distribution of classified cryptographic keys and associated hardware/software by the DOD. That will not happen, even if the P(Y) code use is discontinued.”
Jules McNeff
Overlook Systems Technologies


Bernard Gruber

Bernard Gruber

“Broadly speaking, GPS user equipment security architectures transition every 10 years (such as PPS-SM/AOCs to SAASM to Modernized CGM/MSI.) It can be argued that implementation of these security measures generally takes 10 years or longer to implement. SAASM P(Y) receivers will be around for a long time, implementation can be expensive, backwards compatibility is critical. Personally, I would like to see SAASM architectures evolve to support critical services within other U.S. government departments first, and then determine a path that supports a public service as threats, unfortunately, move forward.”
Bernard Gruber
Northrop Grumman


Photo: Orolia

John Fischer

“Why not? Authentication protects against spoofing. I don’t know all the obstacles involved, but even if an internet connection is required to overcome the one-way limitation of GPS, that isn’t a problem for most applications. Our credit card transactions are secured this way, why not our PNT information? Decades ago, the U.S. Air Force gave the world a gift with the open GPS signal; they could do it again with a secure signal. The world would be a better place.”
John Fischer
Orolia


F. Michael Swiek

F. Michael Swiek

“It’s premature to forecast when military operations will transition from P(Y) code even after M-code operations achieve Initial and Final Operating Capability (IOC and FOC). SAASM P(Y) code will continue to support military operations for an extended period since all MGUE receivers (both increments 1 and 2) are YMCA capable, meaning they support P(Y) code, M-code and C/A code operations. As a military-encrypted signal with military utility, military leaders must carefully weigh any potential P(Y) code transition and its impact on military operations.”
Michael Swiek
GPS Alliance


Ellen Hall

Ellen Hall

“If P(Y) code is offered as a new service to the public, it will have to be maintained. This carries a great cost. This is a legacy product that had a specific military need, which has been replaced and improved upon by M-code. In today’s uncertain times, we need to be wise with our tax dollars. The cost to continue both SAASM and M-code is greater than the benefit to the public, in my opinion.”
Ellen Hall
Spirent Federal Systems

 


Feature photo: U.S. Marine Corps/Capt. Joshua Hays

About the Author:


Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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