Part of an initiative to protectGPS technologies on small unmanned aerial vehicles(UAV), the Navy recently conducted tests to demonstrate how miniaturized GPS protection devices can prevent interruption of this mission-critical global positioning data.
From July 10 to 24, theCommunications and GPS Navigation Program Office (PMW/A 170), headquartered in San Diego, mounted a Small Antenna System (SAS) on an Aerostar unmanned aircraft, then placed the small UAV in a room lined with signal-absorbent material at the FARM (Facilities for Antenna and RCS Measurements), where it was subjected toGPS jammingsignals.
Equipped with model jammers, the FARM facility was used as a stage for the “enemy” to jam the GPS signal and try to knock the UAV off course, said Eric Stevens, the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Communications and Navigation lead for PMW/A-170, which supplied the antenna system. Knocked off course, the UAV would not be able to relay critical intelligence back to the ground control station — disrupting communications among U.S. and allied forces’ ships, aircraft and submarines. In a worst-case scenario, GPS jamming could even cause UAVs to crash.
“If an enemy is trying to jam, or interfere, with the GPS frequency, this antenna allows us to be able to track and acquire the true GPS satellites even in the midst of this jamming and interference,” Stevens said. “What we are doing is demonstrating and quantifying the value of this antenna on small UAVs.”
PMW/A-170, aligned under the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego partnered with Naval Test Wing Atlantic, which supplied the Aerostar, to conduct July’s testing. Personnel and teams from the Maritime Unmanned Development and Operations (MUDO); theNavy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Air Systems Program Office (PMA 263); and an engineering team from theNaval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division’sRadar and Antenna Systems Departmentalso supported the event.