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Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Report examines Defense Department’s GPS modernization efforts

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A Government Accountability Office (GAO) analysis has determined Department of Defense (DOD) efforts to develop a jam-resistant GPS capability for the military called M-code has been delayed, causing ripple effects.

Per the GAO, modernized satellites are in space, but receiver equipment needed for weapons systems use the signal is delayed, in some cases by years. The DOD is no longer planning to use the technology in some new aircraft.

The GAO noted the M-code card development delays have impacted GPS receiver modernization efforts and the weapon systems slated to use them. For example, an Air Force receiver modernization effort depending on the new technology will likely breach its schedule and incur additional costs because of the delay.

While DOD planned to incorporate the receiver into its F/A-18 fighter aircraft, AV-8B strike aircraft, and the MH-53E helicopter, the agency no longer plans to do so because of the delay.

The GAO’s work is in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 that included a provision the Air Force provides quarterly reports to GAO on next-generation GPS acquisition programs and GAO brief congressional defense committees.

The GAO reviewed schedules and cost estimates for the Air Force’s Military GPS User Equipment (MGUE) programs, military service and DOD M-code implementation data, and test and integration plans for aircraft, ships, and ground vehicles.

The GAO also reviewed strategies for continued access to microelectronics and interviewed officials from the MGUE programs, military services, DOD, and representatives from microelectronics developers.