USS Wasp first carrier to use GPS-based JPALS on deployment

July 17, 2018  - By
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F-35Bs can use JPALS for precision landings in zero visibility conditions.

Early in 2018, U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II fighters deployed to the Pacific aboard the USS Wasp amphibious assault ship, and used Raytheon Company’s  Intelligence, Information and Services business’ Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) to guide them onto the ship’s deck.

An F-35B Lightning II prepares to land on the flight deck of the USS Wasp while underway in the Philippine Sea, March 23, 2018. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Amy Phan)

An F-35B Lightning II prepares to land on the flight deck of the USS Wasp while underway in the Philippine Sea, March 23, 2018. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Amy Phan)

JPALS is a differential, GPS-based precision landing system that guides aircraft onto carriers and amphibious assault ships in all weather and surface conditions, including rough waters.

It uses an encrypted, jam-proof datalink, connecting to software and receiver hardware on the aircraft and an array of GPS sensors, mast-mounted antennas and shipboard equipment, the company said.

“We’re asking our pilots to land in some of the most difficult conditions on Earth,” said U.S. Navy Captain B. Joseph Hornbuckle III, program manager, Naval Air Traffic Management Systems Program Office. “JPALS goes a long way toward ensuring the safety of our aircrews and the success of our missions.”

JPAL’s precision navigation is equally effective ashore. A land-based version of the system can be small enough to be either dropped into an austere environment via parachute or driven in on a trailer.

“Deploying with the F-35 is a good start, but it’s just the beginning,” said Matt Gilligan, Raytheon vice president of Navigation, Weather and Services. “There are many fixed and rotary wing aircraft around the world and across the services that deploy to harsh, low-visibility environments where JPALS would be extremely valuable.”

The system is slated to go into production in 2019 and will be outfitted on the U.S. Navy’s newest fighter — the F-35 Lightning II — allowing pilots to land with accuracy.

About the Author:


Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006, and also is editor of GPS World’s 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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