Positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) capabilities enable hundreds of military platforms and are primarily dependent on Global Positioning Systems (GPS) signals—which face ever-increasing threats from multiple adversaries. As a result, some Department of Defense (DoD) program offices are preparing for the possibility of operating in a degraded GPS environment, while others are busily modernizing or augmenting their systems.
But as threats to our PNT capabilities continue to evolve, so too must our PNT-dependent systems and platforms in response. That means embracing adaptability as a basic precept for how we develop, procure, and sustain weapons systems to be effective and resilient over their lifecycles.
The challenge is many GPS-enabled systems in use today typically operate within closed, proprietary environments that were designed and integrated by their original equipment manufacturers (OEM). In other words, OEMs are responsible for deciding all aspects of how a system will be designed and built—and they often retain the control, active oversight, and in-depth technical knowledge of the programs. In this scenario, DoD program offices can no longer perform independent technical analysis or validate defense contractor technical decisions and conclusions. As a result, these systems are not easily upgraded or interconnected with other systems, making the task of incorporating greater PNT resilience more time-consuming, technically challenging, and expensive.