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How Iran or Russia Could Fight America in a War: Kill the GPS

Kris Osborn

Technology, Americas


It is the key to America's modern military.

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Key point: The military relies on GPS and it would likely be destroyed in a war. This is why backups to GPS are being worked on.

Since the days of the Gulf War debut of a host of new precision weaponry and communications technology, the US military has increasing developed GPS-dependent drones, satellites, force tracking systems and a wide range of weapons.

While such things, such as Air Force Joint Direct Attack Munitions for the Air Force, or the Army’s GPS-enabled Blue Force Tracking succeeded in ushering in a new generation of advanced combat operations – in more recent
years potential adversaries have become adept at closing the technical gap with the US. As part of this, the margin of US military technological superiority is challenged, matched and, in some cases, outdone.

Advanced jamming techniques, electronic warfare and sophisticated cyberattacks have radically altered the combat equation – making GPS signals vulnerable to enemy disruption.

Accordingly, there is a broad consensus among military developers and industry innovators that far too many necessary combat technologies are reliant upon GPS systems. Weapons targeting, ship navigation and even small handheld solider force-tracking systems all rely upon GPS signals to operate.

​As a result there is increased focus within the military community on combat technologies that can provide what the military calls precision, navigation and timing (PNT) for a wide range of systems.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is working with industry to test and refine an emerging radio frequency force-tracking technology able to identify ground forces’ location without needing to rely upon GPS.

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