The Office of Government Accounting (GAO) released a 51-page report examining the challenges facing the Department of Defense in the development and implementation of new positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) technologies. to supplement, augment or replace the GPS when it is not available. He found that the DOD was not doing enough in this regard.
“Officials from across DOD and experts told GAO that alternative PNT solutions are not a priority within DOD. For example, there is no central program office responsible for developing the variety of alternative PNT technologies through DOD. DOD’s continued reliance on GPS, despite the known vulnerabilities of GPS to disturbance, presents a challenge in gaining sufficient support to develop viable alternatives. “
the GAO Report seems by chance close to that of the European Accounting Office which called the Galileo program for not working hard enough to develop downstream markets. It looks like the bean counters have satnav operators squarely in their sights and are in the process of firing.
“Experts and DOD officials said the vulnerabilities associated with the use of GPS are well known, but DOD’s response may not be sufficient to deal with the threat. GPS remains the main source of PNT for the foreseeable future in DOD. The experts present at the meeting we called questioned the resilience of the use of GPS as a central element of the military PNT solution. For example, an expert told us that DOD uses GPS even when it’s not needed, and given the threats to GPS, this over-reliance introduces vulnerabilities. “
The report indicates that the incentives to actively participate in this process are limited and that the commercial market is outstripping advocacy efforts to develop alternatives.
“According to experts, another challenge for the development of PNT solutions is the lack of incentive for the industry. One expert said that the proposed DOD PNT solution, made up of an array of several different PNT technologies, divides an already small market, creating less incentive for businesses. A DOD maintainer had the same 43GPS performance including many attributes such as accuracy, availability, and update frequency. However, a DOD official noted that ships may have other combat-related missions with more stringent PNT requirements. concern, stating that having multiple parallel PNT solutions could lead to a fractured industrial base.
“According to an expert, the DOD market for alternative PNT technology is not large enough to achieve economies of scale like those seen with GPS. Another expert said there is a lot of money in commercial R&D – especially shipping – and the commercial market has the potential to outpace DOD, unless DOD finds a way to pull it off. profit from the commercial sector. This expert said that a modular open system architecture (MOSA) could provide DOD with an easy way to implement new technologies. A DOD official said the department relies on the military to keep abreast of developments in the commercial sector.
GAO has developed six policy options to help DOD address these challenges and perceived gaps.
Experts from outside the DOD who were consulted for the report were:
John W. Betz
The MITER company
United States Naval Observatory
Alison K. Brown
President and CEO
Executive Director and Chairman of the Board of Directors
Quantum Economic Development Consortium
Senior Advisor for the Quantum Air Force Research Laboratory
Booz Allen Hamilton
Chief; Time and frequency division
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Professor; Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
University of Minnesota
Director, Minnesota Space Grant Consortium
Dana A. Goward
Resilient navigation and synchronization base