Face coverings at the MPF, CAC/DEERS, ID cards, Commissary, BX and Shopette are mandatory!  All Civilian, Active Duty members and dependents are reminded to avoid visiting the Commissary, Base Exchange, Bldg 3000 and the Pharmacy on Wednesdays. Retirees are also being seen on Wednesdays at the CAC/DEERS office by appointment only.  Please call 661-277-4281 option 3, to make an appointment. Retirees may also utilize base facilities on Sundays.
HomeNews

DT NAVFEST tests Air Force systems in GPS-denied environment

An MQ-9 Reaper is loaded with a GBU-12 laser-guided bomb on the left and a GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition on the right April 13, 2017, at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. The JDAM is a GPS guided munition which brings added capability to the warfighters, specifically by aircrews being able to employ weapons through inclement weather. The first two GBU-38s employed in training successfully hit their targets May 1, 2017, over the Nevada Test and Training Range. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

An MQ-9 Reaper is loaded with a GBU-12 laser-guided bomb on the left and a GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition on the right April 13, 2017, at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. The JDAM is a GPS guided munition which brings added capability to the warfighters, specifically by aircrews being able to employ weapons through inclement weather. The first two GBU-38s employed in training successfully hit their targets May 1, 2017, over the Nevada Test and Training Range. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

Global Positioning System, or GPS, has become a commonplace technology in today’s world since it first became fully operational in the mid-1990s. Its role as a force-enhancer have also made it a viable target in a contested cyber-space domain.

“Many technologies utilize the benefits of GPS and other Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). Though it is not the only source of navigation for USAF platforms, GPS is integrated in the avionics of a lot of aircraft,” said Marcea Ascencio, 775th Test Squadron. “The impact of GPS denial is not black and white for Air Force technologies, but can have varied impacts on the navigation system in addition to trickle-down impacts to the other subsystems; weapons, radar, sensor fusion, and communication systems.”

To help prepare for an event in which GPS is denied or degraded, the 412th Test Wing hosted its second Developmental Test Navigation Festival, at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in the Fall. DT NAVFEST 2019 allows engineers to gauge the effectiveness of various assets that rely on GPS when the system is down.

“The testing is important because for civilian and military safety; we need to know as much as possible about how to keep aircraft systems safe from the threat of electronic interference,” said David Sunga, 775th Test Squadron. Sunga served as a technical consultant during DT NAVFEST 2019.

Sunga explained how vulnerable GPS signals are due to the satellites’ distance to the surface of the Earth.

“The power of a satellite signal is much less than a quadrillionth of a watt; a quadrillion is 1 with 15 zeroes behind it,” Sunga said. “The small size of this signal makes it especially vulnerable to deliberate jamming.”

The first DT NAVFEST event was held in 2017 and DT NAVFEST 2019 was only its second iteration. Conducting the event is a logistical challenge due to the number of other outside agencies involved and costs. Due to the possibility of local communities being affected by a lack of GPS signal, prior coordination has to be conducted. The event was tied in with an Orange Flag exercise at the time to stress systems in a very real-world scenario, Ascencio said.

Prior to the event, the Federal Aviation Administration had to notify all aircraft relying on GPS that testing may result in an unreliable or unavailable GPS signal in the Southern California area and beyond. Local emergency services were also alerted.

“Performing this type of testing is costly and logistically challenging. By pulling together multiple participants, the cost can be split and the aircraft can participate at the same time, overall reducing the impact on the surrounding community,” Ascencio said. “Specific to this iteration of DT NAVFEST, the 412th Test Wing was interested in combining the Orange Flag with DT NAVFEST. These Orange Flag events have been critical to testing our interoperability capability with other air, land, and sea participants from the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Army.”

More than 20 aircraft participated in DT NAVFEST and included participants from other branches as well as universities such as Auburn, Stanford, University of California Irvine and University of Colorado Boulder. The testing was conducted at night to mitigate impact to emergency services, civilian aircraft and population. The 412th Test Wing worked with the 746th Test Squadron from Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, who provided the assets necessary to create a GPS jamming environment.

“Since jamming testing is often too expensive, difficult, and infrequent to do for a single customer, we provide an event where multiple customers can chip in and participate, making testing affordable for all,” Sunga said. “These customers may have various goals in mind: research, training, developmental test of new technology and so on.”

Following the event, participants then have to analyze the data they collected and see the impact of GPS jamming had on their system, the data then flows back to the respective program office, and then gets addressed with either a re-design of the system or an update to the tactics for the user, Ascencio explained.

“From this event, participants were able to verify expected performance of their systems in these types of environments, uncover deficiencies, complete unique testing requirements that they have been not been able to accomplish via other methods, save money for tight budget programs, and help provide data to accelerate the fielding recommendations for systems under test,” she said. “Overall, the 412th Test Wing will continue to hosts these events, growing from the programmatic and technical lessons learned to make these events more accessible, effective, and useful for the warfighter.”

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.