The House Armed Services Committee’s Strategic Forces panel wants DoD to provide quarterly updates on the fielding of GPS military code (M-code) receivers until the latter achieve full operational capability under the Military GPS User Equipment (MGUE) program.

“Not later than February 1, 15, 2024, and quarterly thereafter,  the co-Chairs of the Council on Oversight of the Department of Defense Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Enterprise, shall provide to the congressional defense committees a briefing on the status of the implementation of M-code compliant GPS receivers through the Military GPS User Equipment program, including the status of Increments 1 and 2 of such program and details regarding expected dates of M-Code compliance for all sea-, air, and land-based terminals across the platforms of each of the armed forces,” according to the HASC Strategic Forces’ draft of the subcommittee’s section of the fiscal 2024 national defense authorization bill.

The subcommittee’s draft language referenced a Government Accountability Office (GAO) finding that “significant issues with data completeness and accuracy remain…Poor data hinder the congressional defense committees’ ability to track the progress of M-code and support DoD decision-making. User equipment delays have also had ripple effects on DoD’s ability to plan for and develop M-code-capable receivers. These delays have limited the military services’ ability to fully develop plans for operationally testing the M-code capability.”

The Department of the Air Force said it plans to re-examine its requirement for the 24 M-code capable Lockheed Martin [LMT] GPS satellites on orbit and whether DoD needs at least three more to meet accuracy mandates (Defense Daily, June 8).

MGUE Increment 1 includes application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chips by GlobalFoundries to execute M-code functions, the cards that have such chips, and receivers. L3Harris [LHX], Raytheon Technologies [RTX] and BAE Systems have received funding under MGUE Increment 1.

That effort has included developing a Raytheon ASIC aviation/maritime card for the Northrop Grumman [NOC] B-2 stealth bomber and the Arleigh Burke-class (DDG-51) destroyers and a ground card–the L3Harris ASIC card–for the U.S. Army’s Stryker and the Marine Corps’ Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

In fiscal 2024, U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC) plans for MGUE Increment 1 testing of the aviation/maritime card using a Raytheon Miniature Airborne GPS Receiver 2000 – Modernized (MAGR-2K-M) on a B-2, while the MGUE Increment 1 testing of the aviation/maritime card using a Raytheon GPS-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Service (GPNTS) Receiver on an Arleigh Burke destroyer is expected in fiscal 2025.

GAO, in its just released Annual Weapons System Assessment, said that the Air Force program office for the Boeing [BA] Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II) has said that the program has bought 85,000 Raytheon M-code ASIC chips to comply with the fiscal 2011 National Defense Act. Those chips are to field first in Lot 11 deliveries of SDB II in fiscal 2027.

Unlike MGUE Increment 1, MGUE Increment 2 is to include handheld receivers. In addition, the MGUE Increment 2 development is to aim for incorporation on precision guided munitions as a first step before the development of the handheld receiver.

MGUE Increment 2 cards are to have a smaller, more power efficient ASIC that will have enough commercial demand to avoid the shortages seen in GlobalFoundries’ production of ASICs for Increment 1.

The MGUE Increment 2 effort to develop the Next Generation ASIC and the smaller M-code card is expected to cost $1.4 billion, and Raytheon, BAE Systems and L3Harris are developing MGUE Increment 2 cards, which are to have their critical design reviews by SSC by Sept. 30.

Since the late 1990s, the Pentagon has been developing the M-code to have a stronger signal and more advanced encryption than standard GPS to counter signal jamming, but initial M-code operational capability may be years away.

The GPS M-code ground segment, the Raytheon GPS Next-Generation Operational Control System (GPS OCX), has had delays in its expected delivery by April this year, due to schedule slips in incorporating new hardware and software, in part due to COVID-19 (Defense Daily, June 27, 2022).