U.S. Army to equip light armored vehicles with new GPS anti-jam units

June 7, 2019  - By
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The U.S. Army will send prototype anti-jamming systems to its 2nd Cavalry Regiment, stationed in Europe, in September to aid forces under GPS jamming or spoofing conditions. The first generation of Mounted Assured PNT Systems (MAPS) and anti-jam antennas are nearly ready for integration aboard armored Stryker vehicles, and the Army is already evaluating proposals for an upgraded version incorporating an inertial navigation system (INS) for further resilience.

The shipment comes in response to widespread Russian jamming of GPS signals from the sub-Arctic to the Middle East, and in tacit, likely tardy acknowledgment of Russian superiority in electronic warfare.

An Interim Armored Vehicle "Stryker" and AH-64 Apache helicopters with Battle Group Poland move to secure an area during a lethality demonstration as part of Saber Strike 18 in June 2018. (Photo: U.S. Army/Spc. Hubert D. Delany III, 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

An Interim Armored Vehicle “Stryker” and AH-64 Apache helicopters with Battle Group Poland move to secure an area during a lethality demonstration as part of Saber Strike 18 in June 2018. (Photo: U.S. Army/Spc. Hubert D. Delany III, 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Col. Nickolas Kioutas, Army project manager for positioning, navigation and timing (PNT), announced the move at the annual C4ISRnet conference in Arlington, Virginia. C4ISR stands for Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, or more broadly, electronic and other systems, procedures and techniques used to collect and disseminate information.

Three vendors are providing prototypes for the IMU-equipped second-generation MAPS, or MAPS-2, with testing to begin in September. A MAPS-3 capability, drawing on lessons learned in 1 and 2, may get underway soon. GPS Source, now a subsidiary of General Dynamics Mission Systems, made MAPS-1 and is now competing for MAPS-2.

The initiative reflects a new approach by the Army of “doing much smaller, iterative programs,” according to Col Kioutas. Traditionally, U.S. armed forces have taken years (and sometimes more years) to develop large, complex weaponry and supporting systems, and then even longer to deploy them. By the time they arrive in the operational theater, they are obsolete.

Rapid deployment of smaller, quickly designed and manufactured batches creates the opportunity for rapid feedback on what works and what doesn’t, with equally rapid return to the design board and re-manufacture. In other words, “shoot, aim, ready.”

Kioutas and crew are also flouting another U.S. military tenet, that in which previously “[we] asked for exactly what we wanted and industry built exactly to that. We don’t know exactly what we want. Tell us how we should do this the best, and then we’ll test that.” The PNT program has left requirements broad and open to change, knowing how quickly technology develops — and is shown to be vulnerable.

The Stryker is an eight-wheeled armored fighting vehicle, basically a lightly armored tank or heavily-armored troop carrier that is more road-friendly, that is, faster, than a tank.  It has several variants of armament, armor and troop-carrying capacity. It saw extensive use in the Iraq counter-insurgency campaign.

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Alan Cameron is editor-at-large of GPS World magazine, where he has worked since 2000.

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