Global Positioning System Military-Code installs complete at operational sites
(7 August 2020 - Space and Missile Systems Center) The United States Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center took a major step towards Operational Acceptance of the long awaited Global Positioning System (GPS) Military-Code (M-Code) with the completion of the major M-Code Early Use (MCEU) hardware and software upgrade to the GPS Operational Control System (OCS) on July 27.
The encrypted M-Code signal enhances anti-jamming and anti-spoofing capabilities for the warfighter. M-Code signals are currently available on all 22 GPS Block IIR-M, IIF and III space vehicles currently on orbit. The installs were completed at the Master Control Station at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado and Alternate Master Control Stations at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
The MCEU upgrade allows the OCS Architecture Evolution Plan to task, upload and monitor M-Code within the GPS constellation, as well as support testing and fielding of modernized user equipment. MCEU will be in a trial period prior to Operational Acceptance in November 2020. Once Operational Acceptance is granted, upcoming Military Ground User Equipment (MGUE) will be able to leverage the M-Code signal-in-space to provide more secure position, navigation and timing (PNT) to warfighters.
“Working closely with Lockheed Martin and our other mission partners – with the common national goal of providing enhanced PNT signal security and safety always in sharp focus – means we’re able to deliver the right mission capability faster to our warfighters,” said Lt. Col. Steven A. Nielson, program manager of the MCEU project.
MCEU serves as a gap filler for M-Code operations prior to the entire GPS constellation’s operational transition to the Next Generation Operational Control System Block 1, which is now in development.
A key to enabling M-Code is a new software-defined receiver currently being installed at all six Space Force Monitoring Sites. The M-Code Monitor Station Technology Improvement and Capability receiver, as it is called, uses a commercial, off-the-shelf hardware to cost effectively receive and process M-Code signals, enabling OCS operators to monitor the M-Code signals.
GPS continues to rapidly evolve and adapt to the ever-changing global environment and PNT user needs.