WASHINGTON — BAE Systems will deliver the first batch of new military GPS user equipment to Germany, after being awarded a Foreign Military Sales contract by the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Space Production Corps.
SMC noted in November that Germany was the first state to order new military GPS user equipment (MGUE) which will be able to access M-Code, a new anti-spoofing, anti-jamming GPS signal designated for military use.
“When your life depends on GPS, you want to make sure you receive the signal and that it’s real,” Greg Wild, BAE Systems’ Director of Navigation and Sensor Systems, said in a statement. “With adversaries trying to jam and spoof signals to disrupt forces and make precision munitions miss their marks, there’s a growing need for trusted GPS, which M-Code delivers.”
BAE Systems declined to reveal the value of the contract or the number of units included in the deal, but noted it was the first of many Foreign Military Sales (FMS) expected to come.
“The initial contract value for the FMS sale of M-Code GPS receivers to Germany is relatively small, but the contract is a ‘pathfinder’ for other FMS sales,” Wild told C4ISRNET. “M-Code technology is available now, and becoming increasingly important to our international customers looking for next generation GPS receivers with improved capabilities and security.”
While Germany will be the first U.S. ally to receive new M-Code ready receivers, SMC noted in November that additional foreign sales were in the works. At the time, SMC said it is authorized to facilitate the delivery of receivers to 58 pre-approved nations. And in March, the center announced a three-year agreement to loan M-Code ready MGUE to allies for laboratory and field testing
There are now 24 GPS satellites on orbit capable of broadcasting M-Code -- the number needed for full operational capability of the space segment. Delays with the ground and user segments, however, means that the full M-Code capability is still unavailable.
A 2019 Government Accountability Office report noted that the $6.2 billion Next Generation Operational Control System being built by Raytheon Technologies to control GPS III satellites and M-Code was five years behind schedule. In March 2020, it was announced that the Space Force would pay $378 million to replace the system’s computer hardware because the vendor had been sold to a Chinese company. Delivery of OCX Blocks 1 and 2 is expected in 2022.
In response to the delay, the Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a contract in 2017 to upgrade the current GPS ground system with M-Code Early Use, a limited version of the signal that can operate in the interim. MCEU upgrades were completed in July 2020 and the Space Force declared operational acceptance in November.
Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.