System of Systems: M-code contract awarded

October 9, 2017  - By

Air Force awards M-code early use contract

The Military Code (M-Code) Early Use (MCEU) contract will accelerate deployment of command and control of M-code capability to GPS IIR-M and GPS IIF satellites currently on orbit, as well as future GPS III satellites (like GPS III SV02 above). (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

The U.S. Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a $45.5 million contract to provide military code (M-code) early use (MCEU) capability to GPS.

MCEU will provide command and control of M-code capability to eight GPS IIR-M and 12 GPS IIF satellites on orbit, as well as future GPS III satellites, which the Air Force expects will begin launching in 2018.

MCEU is envisioned as a way to accelerate M-code’s deployment to support testing and fielding of modernized user equipment in support of the warfighter.

The U.S. Air Force’s MCEU contract directs Lockheed Martin to upgrade the existing Architecture Evolution Plan (AEP) Operational Control System (OCS), allowing it to task, upload and monitor M-code within the GPS constellation. The contract includes new software and hardware development that will be deployed in 2019 to worldwide ground facilities that support the Air Force’s GPS.

The AEP OCS — maintained by Lockheed Martin under the GPS Control Segment (GCS) Sustainment Contract — controls the 12 GPS IIR, 8 IIR-M and 12 IIF satellites in orbit today. The company has successfully implemented several recent projects to modernize and sustain the system for the Air Force.

Read more here.

Performance under GPS Denial at NAVFEST

By Christopher Ball

U.S. Department of Defense units and university researchers gathered at Edwards Air Force Base, in California, to evaluate various aerial platforms in a degraded GPS environment. The week-long test event called Developmental Test Navigation Festival (DT NAVFEST) was the first large-scale program of its kind, according to James Cook, KC-46A project manager with the 418th Flight Test Squadron.

“DT NAVFEST was established to provide a locally more realistic GPS jamming environment in which aircraft platforms and unmanned aerial vehicles could evaluate their performance under a degraded GPS signal,” Cook said. “Other locations around the U.S. provide such environments, but having it locally allowed for direct program input and cost savings to customers by not having to deal with the logistics costs of deploying to those locations.”

Units that tested assets at Edwards included the Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force, the 411th, 416th, 419th and 461st Flight Test Squadrons, Stanford University, the University of Illinois, and the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Command. The GPS jammers and support came from the 746th Test Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

“Live GPS jamming data is extremely difficult for academic labs to obtain due to the complexity of working with the Federal Aviation Administration and regional first responders,” said Wei Lee, test safety engineer with the 412th Test Wing. “It is crucial that the Department of Defense support basic research and development that is ongoing in our nation’s top academic institutions. Many of the low-technology readiness-level projects will eventually migrate from academic labs to defense industry and military applications. Allowing the labs to participate on a non-interference basis is a win-win situation.”

The GPS jammers employed had a vertical reach of upwards of 30,000 feet.

The 746th Test Squadron from Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, provided an array of GPS jamming equipment and support for DT NAVFEST at Edwards Air Force Base. The jammers provided a degraded GPS environment for testing multiple aerial platforms throughout the week. Testing was done from 1 to 6 a.m. each day to minimize impact on the community and civilian air traffic. (Photo: U.S. Air Force/Cole Johnson)

IRNSS launch unsuccessful

A launch of a new Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) satellite failed when the protective fairing did not separate. The 1425-kg satellite was expected to expand the existing seven satellites of the NavIC constellation. The launch vehicle PSLV-C39 lifted the satellite on Aug. 31.

The three phases of the launch went smoothly, but the heat shield that was supposed to be separated in the fourth stage could not be detached. IRNSS-1H was planned as a replacement satellite for IRNSS-1A.

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About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

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.