U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command has finished the first of three critical design reviews for the planned Military GPS User Equipment (MGUE) Increment 2.

L3Harris [LHX], Raytheon Technologies [RTX] and BAE Systems have received funding under MGUE Increment 1 and are developing cards for MGUE Increment 2.

“Space System Command’s Military GPS User Equipment Increment 2 program successfully held the BAE Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) Critical Design Review (CDR), May 23-25, with no significant liens recorded,” SSC said on June 20 in an email response to questions. “This is the first of three planned ASIC CDR events and is a critical precursor to the upcoming Miniature Serial Interface (MSI) CDR, planned for later in 2023.”

“All three vendors are projecting to hold MSI CDRs in 2023,” SSC said.

MGUE Increment 2 development is to aim for incorporation on precision guided munitions as a first step before the development of a 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.

MGUE Increment 1 includes GlobalFoundries’ ASIC chips to execute GPS military code (M-code) functions, the cards that have such chips, and receivers.

That MGUE Increment 1 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, 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.

Since the late 1990s, the Pentagon has been developing the GPS M-code to have a stronger signal and more advanced encryption to counter jamming and spoofing, but GPS M-code initial 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).

The Department of the Air Force has said it plans to reexamine 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.