We Need a Backup for GPS. Actually, We Need Several of Them
The key is incentivizing adoption of position-navigation-timing alternatives.
By Robert Cardillo, Distinguished Fellow, CSET | December 1, 2020 | Defense One
“Creating a backup to the GPS constellation has been federal policy since 2004, when President George W. Bush’s National Security Policy Directive-39 ordered the Pentagon to redouble efforts to counter jamming and other interferences and to ensure uninterrupted access to the positioning, timing, and navigation signals that undergird so many of our society’s vital functions. But although much progress has been made since then, the GPS constellation remains vulnerable to jamming and spoofing — and even the kind of physical attacks foreshadowed by China’s 2007 anti-satellite test and Russia’s 2020 suspected deployment of an on-orbit weapon. There is, as yet, no backup worthy of the name.
Fortunately, the private sector has stepped up. There are a number of promising businesses developing and fielding alternative-PNT solutions that can satisfy the diverse requirements of our transportation, energy, telecommunications, and financial sectors. A recent DHS report evaluated several of these systems and the test results are encouraging. The report also highlights what was not necessarily appreciated in 2004: no one system can sufficiently mitigate all of the threat vectors and simultaneously meet the unique demands of our 16 critical infrastructure sectors. The government does not need a single backup; that would simply establish another single-point-of-failure risk. The enduring solution will require several systems…”