WASHINGTON – Germany is expected to receive its first GPS receivers that can use a new, safer military signal in 2021, according to the US Space Forces Space and Missile Systems Center.
In a November 23 press release, SMC announced that its GPS Foreign Military Sales Office had received its first order for military GPS user devices with M-code capability from Germany on September 30 – the first such order from an ally in the United States UNITED STATES.
M-Code is a highly anticipated anti-spoofing and anti-jamming GPS signal for military use. There are currently 23 GPS satellites in orbit that can send M code.
“It will improve interoperability with our defense partners’ equipment and operations while increasing the effectiveness of navigational warfare for Allied operations,” stated SMC in its statement. “Provide [Military GPS User Equipment] For our allies, this is yet another example of how SMC provides vital capabilities to the war fighter and the world. “
SMC noted that the order from Germany is only the first of many as the organization works to facilitate access to M-code enabled GPS user devices for 58 authorized countries.
While details of SMC’s German mandate were not disclosed, the center noted that additional foreign military sales are in development and it has a multilateral agreement to loan M-code-enabled ground-based receivers to approved partners for early integration and testing. In addition, SMC is working with multiple nations on prototype, demonstration and platform planning efforts for M-Code.
The order underscores the fact that after years of work and long delays, M-Code could soon be available. Despite the fact that there are nearly two dozen M-code enabled GPS satellites in orbit, the ground system required to activate the new signal is behind schedule. The $ 6.2 billion next-generation operational control system built by Raytheon Technologies is five years behind schedule, according to a 2019 report by the Government Accountability Office. The delivery of this system is now expected in June 2021.
To compensate for this delay, the US Air Force placed Lockheed Martin in an order in 2016 to build an M-code upgrade for the current GPS ground system. This upgrade allows M-Code Early Use, a limited version of the signal, until the new ground system is ready. M-Code Early Use was delivered in June 2019, entered a test phase in October and was approved for daily use in March 2020. The required hardware and software upgrades were completed on July 27th. An operational acceptance phase is planned for November.