A recent report released by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) earlier this week has underscored the critical importance of reassessing the US military’s global positioning system (GPS) modernization effort to meet its need for accuracy.

GPS, as we know it, is the backbone of navigation and timing information for both military and civilian applications. It plays a pivotal role in the operational effectiveness of armed forces, not just in the US but worldwide. From precise targeting and navigation in combat operations to logistics management and synchronization of military assets, GPS is undoubtedly an indispensable tool for modern warfare.

The Underutilization of GPS

The GAO’s investigation services for the US Congress revealed alarming findings, including the underutilization of the first US Air Force GPS satellite and disruptions caused by in-ground and user equipment segment delays. To address these challenges and ensure optimal operational capabilities, the agency recommends reassessing the requirements for satellites and handheld devices, aiming for a comprehensive modernization effort that aligns with the military’s evolving needs.

It noted that in order to counter such challenges, which usually affect the operation of the military’s jam-resistant signal broadcaster, the Department of Defense (DoD) has to consider adding three more satellites to the existing 24-satellite constellation. But this upgrade will come with a price, in terms of funding and maintenance, to ensure the consistent availability of all 27-satellite constellations over the next decade—a no-easy challenge for the US military.