US Military Needs to Review GPS Modernization: GAO Report

The US military needs to reassess its global positioning system (GPS) modernization drive to meet its need for accuracy, a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report has claimed.

The office, which provides investigative services for the US Congress, said it drew up the report after discovering that the first US Air Force GPS satellite is not being fully utilized.

It also revealed that several delays experienced in ground and user equipment segments are affecting the operations of the jam-resistant signal broadcaster.

According to the GAO, adding three more to the current constellation of 24 satellites would address the military’s operational needs.

But increasing the number of satellites to 27 would require the US Department of Defense (DoD) to make all of them available consistently over the next decade.

The DoD needs to assess its operational need for satellites and establish a firm requirement for a 27-satellite constellation, according to the report.

M-Code Issues

The US military has mainly relied on GPS for positioning, navigation, and timing information.

The US DoD has reportedly worked for over 20 years to modernize the system with a military-specific signal known as M-code.

A ground control segment, a space segment, and user equipment are needed to provide the M-Code, but delays have pushed delivery to at least December 2023.

The GAO claimed that the US Space Force has yet to finalize a new schedule and admitted that additional delays are imminent due to other risks.


To address issues with GPS modernization, GAO recommends further assessment regarding the number of satellites necessary to meet the military’s operational needs.

It also suggested making a sound business case for the M-code to identify which services need to receive chips and cards.

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