The US Space Force has been upgrading its existing Global Positioning System (GPS) Ground Operational Control System (OCS) to fully-enable the ultra-secure, jam-resistant Military Code (M-Code).
According to Lockheed Martin, the final steps to fully-enable the M-Code signal on the GPS are now underway.
The Space Force’s M-Code Early Use (MCEU) upgrade, will allow the OCS to task, upload and monitor M-Code within the GPS constellation. It will also enable testing of modernized user equipment, prior to the completion of the next-gen ground control systems.
M-Code signals are currently available on all the US on-orbit GPS IIR-M, IIF and III space vehicles.
Work is expected begin in the coming months to install the components needed to command and monitor the M-Code encrypted GPS signal. The aims is to enhance the GPS anti-jamming capability and protection from spoofing, as well as increases secure access for US forces, into the GPS OCS.
Lockheed Martin is currently tasked to build up to 32 GPS III/GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) satellites to help modernize the US Space Force GPS constellation.
“Our warfighters depend on GPS signals every day for many critical missions, so anything we can do to make these signals more resistant to jamming and spoofing is extremely important – and available today,” said Johnathon Caldwell, Lockheed Martin VP of Navigation Systems. “The more powerful GPS III/IIIF satellites coupled with Lockheed Martin’s upgrades to the GPS ground system are making that possible.”
Is GPS is vulnerable?
GPS and global navigation satellite system (GNSS) are essential to military navigation. As GPS-dependent positioning, navigation, and timing synchronization procedures have a critical impact on the defence system, such system increasingly becomes an attractive target for illicit exploitation by terrorists and hackers.
A US government assessment team recently evaluated cyber defences across the upgraded GPS system. Lockheed Martin delivered the Red Dragon Cybersecurity Suite (RDCSS) Phase III upgrade improving Defensive Cyber Operations (DCO) visibility into GPS network traffic.
“GPS is an attractive target for our adversaries, so it was critical we bring our best cybersecurity defenses to the table,” said Stacy Kubicek, Vice President of Mission Solutions Defense and Security. “Since we began sustaining the Ground OCS in 2013, we have systematically upgraded and replaced software and hardware – it’s now a very secure system.”