NIWC Atlantic assists in Space Force certification of new GPS technology

Charleston County News

200208-N-GB257-001 White Sands, N.M. (February 08, 2020) White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico provided ideal range conditions for Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic engineers to validate Military Code, or M-Code, on JLTV test platforms, resulting in the Marine Corps obtaining U.S. Space Force certification for next-generation GPS technology that will ultimately deliver a more powerful, jam-resistant and highly accurate GPS signal to Marines. The Marine Corps is the first service to receive certification. (U.S. Navy photo by Joe Bullinger/Released)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Engineers from the Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic, headquartered in Charleston, recently assisted the Marine Corps in obtaining US Space Force certification for cutting-edge GPS technology.

Members of NIWC Atlantic’s Land Systems Integration (LSI) Division traveled to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico to work on “validating ‘Military Code’ (M-Code) on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV).”

M-Code was developed by the Department of Defense (DoD) “to modernize the nation’s GPS capabilities.” It uses “a new constellation of satellites to reach Earth” and provides “powerful, jam-resistant, and highly accurate GPS signal.” Additionally, M-Code has ‘blue force’ jamming capability, and can “detect and reject false signals, thus degrading an adversary’s spoofing capabilities.”

LSI team members were tasked with “[validating] M-Code signal receptivity and disposition in a GPS-denied environment.” Jake Witmer, NIWC Atlantic’s project lead, explained:

“In the New Mexico desert, we needed to validate that the new M-Code was strong enough to operate closer to signal jammers than legacy GPS without degradation. So, we constructed a realistic war setting, turned on the jammers and tested wave after wave of electromagnetic input to verify that capability.”

They also worked to integrate M-Code aboard the JLTV. LSI Division lead, Pete Ward, said “validating that the JLTV can receive M-Code not only enhances Marine Corps offensive capabilities but also prevents adversaries from exploiting our information.”

After many weeks of work, “Air Force Program Executive Office (PEO) for Space Production, which is part of the USSF Space and Missile Systems Center, certified the Military GPS User Equipment (MGUE) Increment 1 program’s M-Code receiver as ready for operational testing on the JLTV lead platform.”

Thanks to the help of the NIWC Atlantic team, “the Marine Corps is the first service to achieve the certification milestone under the MGUE Increment 1 program.”

Ward said that NIWC Atlantic and the LSI Division are proud to have contributed to the project, and that “Marines operating under M-Code will not only propel them to the cutting edge of the information war but also keep them safe, keep them connected and keep them dominant.”

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