4 décembre 2020 | International, Aérospatial

Fourth GPS III satellite receives operational acceptance in record time

WASHINGTON — The fourth GPS III satellite has achieved operational acceptance from the U.S. Space Force at record speeds using an expedited process that was 10 days faster than previous efforts.

“[The fourth GPS III satellite] sets a new standard for handover from the contractor launch team to operational acceptance, setting the satellite healthy to the global user community approximately 30 days post launch. Moving forward with future GPS III launches, the timeline between launch and the satellite being set healthy will be at a minimum,” said 2 Space Operations Squadron Flight Commander Capt. Collin Dart in a statement.

The satellite was launched Nov. 5 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The addition of SV04 to the GPS constellation marks another step toward making M-Code — a more robust GPS signal for military use — available to the war fighter. M-Code provides a more accurate GPS signal with anti-jamming and anti-spoofing capabilities, making it harder for adversaries to block or degrade.

Lockheed Martin is the primary contractor for the 10 GPS III satellites and the 22 GPS III Follow-On satellites in development. The Space Force granted GPS IIIF Milestone C in July, clearing the way for production to begin.

“M-Code signals are more-secure, harder-to-jam and spoof, and are critical to helping our war fighters complete their missions, especially in contested environments,” Tonya Ladwig, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for navigation systems, said in a statement. “GPS III is a war fighting system and we are proud to be helping bring this critical capability to the men and women protecting our nation.”

“The highly encrypted M-Code to protect GPS signals from jamming and spoofing is currently enabled on 22 GPS satellites of various generations; 24 are needed to bring the M-Code to the next level of operational capability,” Dart said. “SV04 brings the constellation to 23 M-Code capable vehicles.”

The 24th M-Code-enabled GPS satellite, which will be the fifth GPS III satellite, is currently ready for launch. However, the launch is not expected until July 2021 at the earliest.

Upgrades to the GPS ground systems and distribution of M-Code-enabled receivers to the field are also needed to get the advanced signal into the hands of war fighters.

In addition to moving the constellation closer to M-Code availability, the addition of another GPS satellite to the constellation will provide greater access to the improved L2C and L5 signals to civilian users.

“For our billions of civil users, it brings the count up to 23 L2C spacecraft and 16 L5 spacecraft,” said Col. Ryan Colburn, director of the Space and Missile Systems Center Portfolio Architect office’s Spectrum Warfare Division. “For professional users with existing dual-frequency operations, L2C enables faster signal acquisition, enhanced reliability, and greater operating range. L5 is broadcast in a radio band reserved exclusively for aviation safety services. It features higher power, greater bandwidth, and an advanced signal design.”

And according to Lockheed Martin, the GPS III satellites also include the new L1C signal, which provides improved civilian user connectivity.


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  • Tightening Chest and Tingling Fingers: Why Are the Military’s Fighter Pilots Getting Sick?

    5 juillet 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Tightening Chest and Tingling Fingers: Why Are the Military’s Fighter Pilots Getting Sick?

    BY LARA SELIGMAN On June 28, a young U.S. Navy officer flying in a two-seater electronic warfare jet in the skies over Washington State suddenly felt a tightness in his chest and tingling in his extremities. He instantly recognized his symptoms as signs of hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation. The jet, an EA-18G Growler from a training squadron out of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, diverted to a local airport, and made an “uneventful” landing, according to Navy spokesman Cmdr. Scot Cregan. The crew member, an electronic warfare officer in training, was transported to a hospital for medical treatment. Both the pilot and the trainee officer survived, but the incident, the latest in an alarming string of similar episodes, could have been deadly. Across the U.S. military fleets, pilots and aircrew are experiencing a dramatic surge in so-called physiological episodes, which leave aviators disoriented and shaken. At worst, these unexplained incidents can be fatal — the Navy has linked four F/A-18 fighter pilot deaths over a span of 10 years to the events. The continuing mystery over the pilots’ sickness is part of a deeper concern about the military’s aviation readiness, as the rate of fatal aircraft crashes recently reached a six-year high. It also raises larger questions over the ability of the world’s largest and best-funded military to resolve a basic problem that appears primarily limited to the United States. The Navy considers the physiological episode problem its “number one aviation safety priority.” From 2009 to 2016, the rate of such events increased almost eightfold in the F/A-18 and EA-18G — a version of the two-seater F/A-18 — fleets, from 16 to 125 incidents. In the Navy’s T-45 training fleet, the spike is even more significant: In 2009, the Navy reported just one such incident, but in 2016, the number was 38. Most recently, two aviators endured a harrowing landing after the temperature inside their Growler cockpit suddenly plunged to as low as -30 degrees. A mist formed in the cockpit, covering the instruments and windows with ice and rendering the pilots almost completely blind. The aircrew had to turn on the emergency oxygen supply. The crew and ground-based controllers managed to work to land the aircraft safely. But both the pilot and the electronic warfare officer suffered “severe blistering and burns on hands” due to frostbite. The Navy believes the incident was caused by a failure of the environmental control system, a series of pipes and valves that regulates airflow to the air conditioning and oxygen systems. The Air Force has a similar oxygen problem. In 2010, Capt. Jeff Haney died when an engine bleed-air malfunction caused the control system on his F-22 stealth fighter to shut off oxygen flow to his mask. Since then, the episodes have continued in almost every aircraft type, including the A-10 attack jet, the T-6 trainer, and the new F-35 fighter. The most recent incidents have not yet been directly linked to fatalities. But in a sign that the military recognizes the severity of the problem, in the past year both the Navy and Air Force have grounded fleets in response to these events: the Navy’s T-45s in April 2017, the Air Force F-35s at Luke Air Force Base in June 2017, part of the Air Force’s A-10 fleet in November 2017, and the T-6s in November 2017 and again this February. Neither service has identified a single point of failure or a solution to these episodes despite years of investment — a fact that has not gone unnoticed by prominent lawmakers. “What’s occurring in the Navy is absolutely unacceptable,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, in 2017. “This is absolutely critical for our pilots.” “I have no doubt the Navy is taking that issue seriously,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, during an event in Washington in 2017. But, “I don’t understand why we can’t figure out what’s causing the oxygen problem.” In May, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), introduced legislation to create an independent National Commission on Military Aviation Safety in response to the surge in deadly crashes over the last year. Some, but not all, of these incidents were related to hypoxia. Meanwhile, NASA has waded into the fray. After completing a congressionally mandated review of the Navy’s investigation into the F/A-18 and EA-18G incidents, which faulted both the Navy and manufacturer Boeing, the agency is embarking on a new study of how pilots breathe while flying high-performance aircraft. The services continue making incremental changes to the aircraft design, flight gear, and maintenance procedures in an effort to mitigate the risk to aircrew. In the T-45, at least, these modifications have reduced the number of incidents, according to Rear Adm. Sara Joyner, who until recently led the Navy’s physiological episode investigation. Rear Adm.-select Fredrick Luchtman currently leads the effort. But other Navy and Air Force fleets continue to see physiological episodes at alarming rates. “More work remains to be done, and this will remain our top safety priority until we fully understand, and have mitigated, all possible PE [physiological episode] causal factors,” said Rear Adm. Roy Kelley, commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, in congressional testimony June 21. https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/07/03/tightening-chest-and-tingling-fingers-why-are-the-militarys-fighter-pilots-getting-sick/

  • India to ban imports of 101 defence products

    11 août 2020 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité

    India to ban imports of 101 defence products

    by Jon Grevatt   India, one of the world’s biggest defence importers, has announced a ban on procuring more than 100 military products from foreign suppliers. The new policy – announced on 9 August – is line with a government campaign to achieve self-reliance and is intended to “apprise India’s defence industry about anticipated requirements … so that they are better prepared to realise the goal of indigenisation”, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said. The new ‘import embargo list’ features 101 defence products, with emphasis mainly on land and sea-based equipment including artillery, armoured vehicles, destroyers, submarines, and a range of related components. However, although the list includes some air platforms – such as light combat aircraft and light combat helicopters – that are currently being produced by Indian defence firm Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, it also features some advanced technologies – including electronic warfare systems and air-to-air missiles – that would be integrated on to these platforms. The MoD said the banned list will be “progressively implemented” over the next few years. Accordingly, the list names items that will be barred for import from December 2020 (69 products), December 2021 (11 products), and December 2022 (21 products). The MoD added that the embargo list would be expanded progressively. “This is a big step towards self-reliance in defence,” said the MoD. “It offers a great opportunity to the Indian defence industry to rise to the occasion to manufacture the items … by using their own design and development capabilities or adopting technologies designed and developed by [state-owned] Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).” https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/india-to-ban-imports-of-101-defence-products

  • Global partners invest $314 million in Patriot Integrated Air and Missile Defense System

    26 février 2020 | International, Aérospatial

    Global partners invest $314 million in Patriot Integrated Air and Missile Defense System

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